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The show opens with the Contadine gathering to greet Marco and Giuseppe Palmieri - the hansomest of the Gondoliers.
The ladies sing as they bundle their roses, white and red, and ignore the advances of the other Gondoliers as it is
rumoured that Marco and Giuseppe will announce their choice of wives.
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Marco and Giuseppe arrive by gondola and proceed to woo the ladies.
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Then, being indifferent as to whom they should pick, they agree that fate should decide.
They are blindfolded and their brides are the first two they catch. Gianetta and Tessa are selected as brides and
the remaining Contadine find partners among the other Gondoliers and they leave to prepare for the upcoming weddings.
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We now meet the Duke of Plaza-Toro, his wife the duchess, their daughter Casilda and Luiz, the drummer boy.
Having just arrived by sea from Spain they are not feeling very well. The Duke reveals that they are in Venice to find
the son of the late King of Barataria to whom Casilda was married in infancy just before the prince was kidnapped by
the grand inquisitor to protect him from the wayward religious ways of the King.
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This is all news to Casilda, but also a bit inconvenient as she happens to be head over heals in love with
Luiz. When the Duke and Duchess go to arrange a meeting with the Grand Inquisitor, Casilda breaks the news to Luiz.
They remember old times, sing and embrace - possibly for the last time.
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The Grand Inquisitor returns with the Duke and Duchess and drops another bombshell. When he kidnapped the young
prince, he entrusted him the care of an aging gondolier who had a son about the same age. The aging gondolier
had a weakness for alcohol and in the end could not tell his sons apart. So, while the Grand Inquisitor knows
exactly where the prince is, he is not sure which of the brothers it is. Only their nurse can possibly now tell
them apart - so she must be fetched.
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It turns out, of course, that the brothers in question are the newly married Marco and Giuseppe. The Grand Inquisitor tracks them
down and breaks the news to them that one of them is actually a King. The republican gondoliers are horrified, but
manage to agree to give it a shot as long as they can give their friends positions in the court. It is agreed that they will reign
jointly until it is determined which is the rightful king.
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Everyone is now quite excited. Tessa and Gianetta realise that one of them is now a queen and Marco and
Giuseppe explain the situation to all their friends.
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The Grand Inquisitor, having realised that there is a bit of a problem with the brothers being married, has stated that
the women may not accompany the gondoliers on their trip to Barataria where they must go to take up Court.
A tearful farewell sees the gondoliers depart for Barataria and the Contadine left behind in Venice.
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Act two opens in Barataria where Marco and Giuseppe have
created a court in which it seems they do all the work.
Everyone is treated equally and it seems that their friends
may be taking advantage of them.
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As their work wears them down, their thoughts turn to the
wives they left behind in Venice.
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Suddenly, who should appear but all the Contadine - having
risked their necks sailing from Venice to check up on
their men. And sure enough, Gianetta and Tessa are
with them. Time for a dance!
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Just as suddenly, the party stops when the Grand Inquisitor
arrives. He is perturbed to find the 'wives' there and
has to break it to them that since the real king was married
in infancy, one of the brothers is an unintentional
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It doesn't take long for Gianetta and Tessa to realise that
this news means that neither of them is actually a queen
and, moreover, one of them is not even married. They
proceed to analyse their situation In A Contemplative
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The Duke of Plaza-Toro then arrives on the scene with much
pomp now that he is the father of the Queen. Casilda,
still unsure about this arranged marriage, is consoled by
her mother who relates the tale of how she tamed Casilda's
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When the Duke and Duchess and Casilda finally meet Marco and
Guiseppe, the Duke is under whelmed at their manners and
tries to teach the brothers something about court etiquette.
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When the Duke and Duchess leave Casilda alone with the
rather uncomfortable Marco and Giuseppe, the brothers decide
to break the news to Casilda that they are in love with
someone else - in point of fact their wives! Casilda
admits that she, too, is in love with someone else.
Gianetta and Tessa show up and the five of them consider
their Case Unprecedented.
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The end is in sight, however, when the Grand Inquisitor
appears with Marco and Guiseppe's nurse. She is forced
to identify the real king and, after some persuasion, admits
that she swapped babies just prior to the kidnapping and
that the real king is actually none other that Luiz.
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This is good news all round! Luiz and Casilda are
reunited, Marco and Gianetta and Giuseppe and Tessa can at
last begin their honeymoon.
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The Gondoliers are now free to return to the canals of
Venice, the contadine have their gondoliers, Luiz has his
crown, Casilda has her king, the Duke and Duchess have a
financially sound future. They all live happily ever