The True Friend (Il vero amico)

Carlo Goldoni

Review of the translation

"a great gift for students of Italian/English, for students of Goldoni and Italian theatre, or for theatre-lovers. Or for a true friend."
Words to good effect

The Play

True to Goldoni's mixture of comic wit and farce, the plot is a breathtakingly fast succession of twists and turns which only unravel in the very final lines with a surprise ending. Two friends are in love with the same young woman. Neither wants to place their friendship in jeopardy. How can love triumph without breaking off their friendship?
Goldoni explores the conflicts brought about when Florindo has to choose between Lelio, his best friend, and Rosaura, his best friend's fiancée. Added to this conundrum are the issues of whether Ottavio, the old miser, will provide a dowry and the mature Beatrice's unashamed incessant pursuit of Florindo.
The play is set in Bologna in Lelio's house. Florindo is a guest along with his faithful manservant. From the opening of the play, Florindo seeks to return home to Venice in order not to damage his friend's relationship. However, his departure is obstructed time and again by his hosts, leading to one complication after another.
From the beginning, the plot is intense and fast-moving with inversions fed into the action in quick succession. This creates suspense which continues throughout the play as potential marriage partners are switched back and forth until the very ending when the audience finally discovers what the main characters' destiny will be. Will love or friendship prevail?
The Venetian element is brought into this play through Florindo and his manservant, both Venetians. Apart from these two characters, all the others are portrayed as self-seeking, selfish and sly - whether servants or masters. The tension is kept at a constantly high level by the struggles between the characters. These struggles are not just brought about through love and friendship but are also generational and social. Furthermore, there is the added complication in the contrast of the characters' ideas of reality as they deceive one another. This creates dramatic irony and humour as the audience know more than any of the characters on stage.
The Italian text is taken from: Carlo Goldoni, Tutte le opere, a cura di Giuseppe Ortolani, Mondadori, Milano, 1935.
In Memoirs (Carlo Goldoni's autobiography), Goldoni states: "This play [Il vero amico] is one of my favourites and I have had the greatest pleasure in seeing that the audience is of my opinion".  Chap. X

First translation into English!

The True Friend is the translation of Carlo Goldoni's play Il vero amico. It is published in the original Italian version with the English parallel translated text. This play has amazingly been overlooked as there seems to be no other translation from the original Italian into English. Sparkling Books has unearthed it and brought it to the fore.
This title is available in both hardback and wirebound editions with identical pagination.
To enquire about performance licences for the English translation, please use the contact form.

The Translation

This perceptive translation has been acclaimed by Goldoni academics for brilliantly preserving the rhythm, humour and the fast pace typical of Goldoni's dialogue, while the monologues are deemed to be as striking in the new language as in the original.

The Author

Carlo Goldoni was born in Venice in 1707. While studying Law in Pavia he was expelled from his College for having written a satirical tract about the people of Pavia. He continued his legal studies in Modena and finally graduated in Law in Padova. After practising this profession for a short while, he abandoned it in favour of the theatre. An extremely prolific theatrical career followed spanning over sixty years. Goldoni was a prolific playwright, widely regarded as the Italian Molière. He died in Paris in 1793. 


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ISBN 9781907230011, ebook 9781907230349


Read free sample

The True Friend / Il vero amico

E-book English translation only

ISBN: 978-1-907230-34-9 £3.99 €3.99 US$4.99 

Printed book

(English and Italian on facing pages)

ISBN: 9781907230011

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