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Don Gil of the Green Breeches


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A: Tirso de Molina Pf:c.1614–15, Madrid Pb: 1635 Tr: 1991 G: Com. in 3 acts; Spanish verse S: Madrid, late 16th c. C: 14m, 3f, musiciansDon Martin abandons Donna Juana to go to Madrid, assumes the identity of Don Gil, and begins to woo the rich Ines. Juana follows him, dressed as a man wearing green breeches. When she discovers where the faithless Martin intends to court Ines, Juana appears early at their tryst claiming to be Don Gil and charms Ines so much that she falls in love with ‘him’. When Ines's father and Martin arrive, Ines wishes to have nothing to do with this new Don Gil and desires only the one in green breeches.

A: Tirso de Molina Pf:c.1614–15, Madrid Pb: 1635 Tr: 1991 G: Com. in 3 acts; Spanish verse S: Madrid, late 16th c. C: 14m, 3f, musicians

Martin cannot imagine who his rival might be, especially as he is fed the false information that Juana has gone into a convent to bear their baby and died soon after. Plagued by his guilty conscience, Martin fears that the rival Don Gil may be an avenging spirit. By now Ines's friend, Donna Clara, has also fallen in love with Don Gil of the green breeches, and one of her admirers, Don Juan, is consumed by jealousy. Eventually four Don Gils in green breeches appear under Ines's balcony, Juana, Martin, Clara, and Don Juan, and it takes some time for the resulting complications to be resolved. Finally, Don Gil's green breeches are laid to rest with holy candles.

This ‘cloak and dagger’ comedy is one of the best crafted of Molina's many plays, predictably offering excellent operatic material, as in Walter Braunfels's version of 1924. It is written in a punchy unrhymed verse, with short lines of between seven and nine syllables. This infuses the piece with a driving energy, which sweeps the audience along, helping them to ignore the outrageous improbabilities of the plot.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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