THE THREE ORANGES

This document was originally published in The Drama: Its History, Literature and Influence on Civilization, vol. 5. ed. Alfred Bates. London: Historical Publishing Company, 1906. pp. 93-95.

In 1761 Gozzi placed in the hands of a company of players his dramatic sketch entitled the Three Oranges, leaving the subordinate parts to be filled in by the humor and imagination for which these actors were famous. Inspired by personal dislike for Goldoni and Chiari, the objects of the parody, they played it with the utmost spirit. Its success was instantaneous, and fairly crushed Gozzi's rivals by the satire of the burlesque, as where the long journeys which Chiari's personages are supposed to perform, in the space of a single act, are ridiculed by Tartaglia and Truffaldino being propelled two thousand leagues by the devil with a pair of bellows, and then "sprawling on the grass at the sudden cessation of the favoring gale." The principal scene is where Tartaglia, after recovering from a long fit of melancholy, goes in quest of the three oranges preserved in the castle of the fairy Creonta. The fairy summons her dog, and tells him to "go, bite the thief who stole my oranges;" but the dog replies: "Why should I bite him? He gave me plenty to eat, while you have kept me here for months and years, dying of hunger." The fairy then turns to the rope at the well: "Rope, bind the thief who stole my oranges." But the rope answers: "Why should I bind him who hung me in the sun to dry, while you have left me for months and years to moulder in a corner?" Finally, the fairy bids the iron gate of the castle to "crush the thief who stole my oranges." But, says the gate: "Why should I crush him who has oiled me, while you have left me so long to rust?" During this dialogue the audience was listening in rapt attention and loudly applauding a tale known to everyone before. But the climax was reached when, Truffaldino cutting two of the oranges, there stepped forth two beautiful princesses, who very soon died of thirst. As Tartaglia cuts the remaining orange by the side of a fountain a third princess steps forth, and to her he hastens to give something to drink; for it appears that, after many more adventures, she is destined to become his wife. Thereupon she is transformed into a dove before the eyes of the audience, and it is some time before she regains her natural shape. Not least among the triumphs of the play was that it drove Goldoni out of Venice.

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