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Faithful Shepherd


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A: Giovanni Battista Guarini Pf: 1595, Crema Pb: 1589 Tr: 1602 G: Pastoral in 5 acts; Italian verse S: A timeless pastoral landscape in Arcadia C: 15m, 3f, chorus (m and f)Silvio so loves hunting that he has little interest in Amarilli, to whom he is engaged, nor in Dorinda, who loves him passionately. Amarilli loves and is loved by Mirtillo, but he is pursued by the rapacious Corisca. Learning of Amarilli's love for Mirtillo, Corisca betrays the pair, and Amarilli is condemned to death for her faithlessness. Mirtillo, ‘the faithful shepherd’, offers to take her place in death, but tragedy is averted for both, when it is revealed that Amarilli is engaged to the shepherd Silvio (in fact Mirtillo) and not to the hunter Silvio. Meanwhile Silvio the hunter has wounded Dorinda, mistaking her for a wolf, and repents by offering to marry her. The chorus prepares to celebrate the weddings.

A: Giovanni Battista Guarini Pf: 1595, Crema Pb: 1589 Tr: 1602 G: Pastoral in 5 acts; Italian verse S: A timeless pastoral landscape in Arcadia C: 15m, 3f, chorus (m and f)

Guarini's play stands alongside Tasso's Aminta as one of the best-known and most frequently translated pastoral plays. Though not as highly regarded as Aminta, it contains a much more complex plot, comedy and sensuality, and its integration of a musical chorus anticipates the development of Italian opera towards the end of the century. The main importance of The Faithful Shepherd is that it may be accounted the first tragicomedy, a play which is on the verge of a tragic outcome, but which ends happily. John Fletcher's The Faithful Shepherdess (1609) is indebted to Guarini.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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