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The Fencing-Master

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The Fencing-Master

by Harry Smith

Genre: Operetta, Romance
Format of Original Source: Plot summary
Recommended Adaptation Length: Two Hours

Candidate for Adaptation? Promising


The heroine of this opera is Francesca, daughter of a fencing-master, who has brought her up as a boy and taught her fencing among other accomplishments. She is in love with Fortunio, rightful heir to the throne of Milan, who believes her to be a boy. Fortunio in turn is in love with the Countess Filippa, and the Marchesa di Goldoni, a young widow, is in love with Francesca. The bankrupt and usurping Duke of Milan and his private astrologer, of whom he has purchased so many horoscopes as to deplete his exchequer, furnish the comedy element of the opera. The Duke has mortgaged one room after another in his palace to money-lenders, and has also employed a regularly organized stock company of Venetian bravos to remove Fortunio. The first act closes with the departure of Fortunio and Francesca to Venice on political business.


A strong love quadrangle at the heart of this story, implying four, and probably eight strong scenes right off the bat.  Also some oddly-contemporary financial transactions involving stocks and money-lending.  The difficulty here, however, is that the plot soon degenerates into typical operetta fare (secret elopement; untimely revelation of a mistaken identity), but there are some potentially-moving acts of self-sacrifice which might redeem this plot structure.  Worth a look.


A word of caution: This plot summary was written by 19th-century literary critic George Upton, who often mixes personal opinion with summation. You would be advised to consult the original source material, if the general plot appeals to you.


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