Green Bird squareThere’s been a lot of traffic to this post, What’s different in Hillary DePiano’s adaptation of The Green Bird vs Carlo Gozzi’s commedia dell’arte original?, so I figured I’d do you one better and share the full synopsis. I had to write up a summary of the entire play anyway for theatre submissions and whatnot so it’s not any trouble to share that recap here. But would be student cheaters, be warned! Events don’t happen in the same order in the actual play and some things have been, well, oversimplified so I could fit everything onto a single page.

This is a summary of the entire play, ending included, so consider this a big fat spoiler warning. If you don’t want to know what happens in the play until after you see or read it, you’re not going to want to read what’s below. 

Carlo Gozzi’s The Green Bird
as Adapted by Hillary DePiano

It’s been years since King Tartaglia went on a quest for three magical oranges and found his Queen Ninetta. But when war breaks out with a neighboring kingdom and Tartaglia’s lost on the battlefield, Smeraldina, seizes the throne in the guise of his long dead mother, Queen Tartagliona. Bent on revenge, she orders Ninetta buried alive in the sewers beneath the castle and the infant heirs killed.

But quick thinking by the King’s advisor, Pantalone, saves the royal twins. For eighteen years, Prince Renzo and Princess Barbarina grow up as peasants, raised by Truffaldino and Franceschina, poor clowns they believe to be their real parents. Once they learn the truth, they flee the only home they’ve ever known to figure out where they really belong and encounter Calmon, the King of statues, who grants them a single wish. They use the wish to grant themselves unimaginable wealth, eager to make their own destiny.

Meanwhile, the imposter Queen and her sycophant, Brighella, have made themselves comfortable on their ill gotten thrones when King Tartaglia, long presumed dead, returns. He’s furious at the woman he thinks is his mother for what she did to his wife and children but it will have to wait because he’s returned with the enemy on his heels. Bolstered with weapons and supplies stolen from the Kingdom of Hearts, the army of Terrandombra is less than a day’s time away and the kingdom will be destroyed unless they can hold them off.

Before Pantalone can warn the King of Smeraldina’s plot against him, she casts a spell that causes Tartaglia to fall in love with Barbarina. Pantalone tries desperately to prevent the King from wooing the woman no one but he knows is secretly his daughter but cannot stop father and children from nearly killing each other in a duel. At last, in a desperate bid to save all their lives, he curses the twins with an impossible quest for the dancing waters and singing apple and locks the King away until he can figure out a way to break him of the love curse.

The twins set out on their cursed journey with their squires, who are secretly their adoptive parents in disguise. They reach the grotto of Fata Serpentina and manage to claim the treasures but the Snake Queen and her monsters won’t let them go without a fight. They survive thanks to the last minute aide of Barbarina’s friend, the Green Bird, but when Renzo tries to steal its feather, the bird turns him and Truffaldino to stone. Agreeing to give up all her riches in exchange for the lives of her family, the Green Bird gives Barbarina the feather of his own will and she frees Renzo and Truffaldino. But all is at last revealed when Renzo uses the feather to bring a statue of the Princess Pompea to life and the Green Bird transforms into her brother, the long lost King of Terrandombra, who leads the others in a race back home to save their kingdom in time.

Back at the castle, the enemy is nearly upon them when Queen Ninetta, having been kept alive all these years by the Green Bird, reveals herself just in time to lead the army. They are nearly overcome when the King of Terrandombra and Pompea arrive and call a truce between the two kingdoms, which will be joined when Barbarina marries her Green Bird and becomes Queen of Terrandombra. Tartaglia is freed from his curse and reunited with his family and Ninetta has Smeraldina and Brighella buried alive in the same sewer prison in the sewers where she was entombed. As Ninetta honors Franceschina for she and her husband’s service and invites them to live in the castle with them, Tartaglia recognizes Truffaldino as his squire from his own fantastical quest for the three oranges all those years ago and the two renew their friendship.

…but, you know, funny.

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