Home > 18th Century, Classics, Goldoni Carlo, Italian Literature, Theatre > La Locandiera by Carlo Goldoni

La Locandiera by Carlo Goldoni

La Locandiera by Carlo Goldoni 1753 English title: The Mistress of the Inn. Directed by Marc Paquien.

Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793) is an Italian playwright who wrote 159 plays and 83 operas. I still wonder why I’d never heard of him before watching La Locandiera last month.

goldoni_locandieraLa Locandiera is a comedy with a rather simple plot. Mirandolina is the mistress of an inn. She’s a pretty coquette and enjoys being wooed by men. She currently has two suitors, the Marquis of Forlipopoli and the Count of Albafiorita. The first comes from impoverished nobility. He tries to put forward his nobility and his title to seduce Mirandolina. The second is of minor nobility but he’s very wealthy and tries to ravish her with expensive gifts. They fight for her, each of them convinced that his assets give him the best chance to win her heart. Both men are guests at Mirandolina’s inn and have stayed there before. Mirandolina doesn’t fancy any of them; she’s just a flirt and she enjoys the attention. As a single woman running a business, the society expects her to get married to rely on a husband. She’s not so eager to give up her freedom for marriage and for a man so she keeps them at arm’s length.

This time, a third man stays at the inn, the Knight of Ripafratta. He’s a confirmed bachelor who loathes women. He thinks they are useless creatures, too high maintenance for him and that he’s better off without a wife. In other words, he enjoys his freedom and openly makes fun of the Marquis of Forlipopoli and the Count of Albafiorita for being smitten with Mirandolina. He mocks their attitude, their devotion and their petty fight over her.

On her side, Mirandolina resents Ripafratta’s attitude and decides to seduce him, just to defend her sex. Instead of being coy, flirtatious or fulfilling his expectations of the female behaviour, she acts exactly the opposite. She offers sensible conversation, makes blunt comments and lets him understand she’s not on the market for a husband. He starts thinking she’s different. He seeks her company and quickly falls for her.

Goldoni admired Molière a lot and his master is present in this comedy. Mirandolina uses her charms to get something from men, like Béline in The Imaginary Invalid. Ripafratta is as grouchy and disenchanted with women as Alceste in The Misanthropist. His illogical distaste of women sounds like Arnolphe in The School For Wives. Like Arnolphe, he shapes his life around a misconception of women and a hasty generalization of their nature.

Goldoni’s characters are caricatures, something Molière excelled at painting. A conceited marquis thinks that nobility can forgive miserliness and justifies looking down on people. A rich count behaves like a nouveau riche and is firmly convinced that money can buy him love. All these elements link Goldoni to Molière and the tradition of the comedia dell arte.

LA LOCANDIERA (Marc PAQUIEN) 2013But Goldoni doesn’t belong to the 17thC. In Molière, characters don’t toy with other people’s feelings. They lie, they use their charm, they play on seduction to have power or marry a rich man or go around a father’s choice of a husband. They don’t play with emotions to prove a point, they play tricks to get something for themselves but not to harm someone else. The tricks are mostly to serve a cause that the spectator supports. It’s Scapin helping with a marriage between two young people in love and preventing the girl’s father from marrying her to an older man. It’s not cruel. Moreover, Molière always strives to point out the trials of his contemporaries. I don’t think Goldoni has this intention in his play.

In La Locandiera, Mirandolina is a little cruel and doesn’t mind hurting Ripafratta for the sake of her argument. This is where Goldoni joins his century and sounds like Marivaux in The Game of Love and Chance or Laclos in The Dangerous Liaisons. In Marivaux, characters play dangerous games where feelings are involved and people can get hurt.

Goldoni is a mix of Molière and Marivaux and since I love both playwrights, I had a great time watching La Locandiera. It was directed by Marc Paquien who has also directed Happy Days by Samuel Beckett and The Learned Ladies by Molière which I found very good too. I enjoyed what he’s done with the play. He respected traditional clothes, but the text could have been transposed in today’s world. Dominique Blanc played Mirandolina and it was a pleasure to see her on stage. She’s as excellent as you could imagine. André Marcon was a wonderful Ripafratta, frowing at the right places and genuinely at loss when his heart betrays him and goes to Mirandolina.

Have you ever watched or studied Goldoni?

  1. May 30, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Goldoni was a big hit in London just within the last couple of years. If you can see or read a version of that play, usually titled The Servant of Two Masters, do not hesitate.

    The recent version, the one in the article, may be a little slang and dialect heavy for you. Also for me. It is really British.

    I don’t know the one you saw, unfortunately. Wonderful stuff, it seems.

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    • May 30, 2013 at 10:05 pm

      Thanks Tom. The French title of his play is Arlequin valet de deux maîtres. It sounds a lot like Molière. I am not surprised that it has been transposed in modern England.
      As I mentioned in my billet, the same thing could have been done for this one. I even wonder if the show wouldn’t have been better. (just as Tis Pity She’s a Whore was enchanting transposed in our world)

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  2. May 30, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    Much fun – I saw a Goldoni play at the Comédie Italienne in Paris several years ago. It’s a wonderful, intimate little theatre, and if you get a chance to go, you’ll probably see something by Goldoni. They seem to put his stuff on all the time.

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    • May 31, 2013 at 9:40 pm

      Thanks for the tip, I’ll have a look at it next time I have a chance to go to the theatre in Paris.

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  3. May 31, 2013 at 3:10 am

    I’d heard of Goldini, but I haven’t seen any of the plays. My loss

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    • May 31, 2013 at 9:47 pm

      who knows what’s in your future? 🙂

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  4. June 1, 2013 at 10:06 am

    I was thinking of Laclos while reading your review. I love Marivaux and Molière, so I would like this
    It sounds like a really good play. I’ll have to investigate the programme of the Comédie Italienne as well. It’s been quite a while since I went to the theater in Paris.

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  5. June 1, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    I’d never heard of Goldoni before reading this, but thanks to Tom I realise that indeed he was big in London. The posters for One Man, Two Guvnors were EVERYWHERE! Never realised it was an updating of an 18th century comedy.

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    • June 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      Have you seen the play in London?

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