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Stablemaster


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AT: The Captain A: Pietro Aretino Pf: 1527, Mantua Pb: 1533 Tr: 1978 G: Commedia erudita in 5 acts; Italian prose S: A square in Mantua, early 16th c. C: 15m, 5fThe town of Mantua is buzzing with news that the Duke is that very evening making his (unnamed) Stablemaster marry a beautiful young bride. Since it rapidly becomes clear that the Stablemaster's sexual proclivities lie in another direction, he resists the order to marry. The Nurse describes marriage as paradise on earth, and the Pedant warns him that he will be punished by God if he has no offspring. Despite further urgings by various courtiers, the Stablemaster remains adamant in his refusal to marry, supported by Ambrogio, an old man who regards marriage as living hell. Only when the Count threatens him with a dagger, does the Stablemaster yield to the Duke's will. When the ceremony is concluded, the Stablemaster discovers that the Duke has given him a handsome pageboy as a bride. The Stablemaster is delighted, everyone enjoys the joke, and they all go off to celebrate the nuptials.

AT: The Captain A: Pietro Aretino Pf: 1527, Mantua Pb: 1533 Tr: 1978 G: Commedia erudita in 5 acts; Italian prose S: A square in Mantua, early 16th c. C: 15m, 5f

Aretino, author of one tragedy and five comedies, based this play on an actual incident at the Court of Mantua. It is notable as the first overtly gay drama in European theatre. The plot is very simple, focusing solely on the forthcoming marriage, and characters are fairly stereotypical. The pleasure of the piece lies mainly in the passages of monologue and dialogue, which, in the words of the Italian Scholar Richard Andrews, are ‘moralistic, satirical, sarcastic, celebratory, or just verbally fanciful’.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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