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Escena:  Nantes y sus cercanías




Antón Bermejo


Bras Delgado



caballero, cazador mayor (del Duque de Bretaña), Barón de Flor después, primo de Sirena, Marqués de Anguiana después, Conde de Aspurg después








alcalde, pastor viejo





Enrico (Enrique, reparto)

Duque de Borgoña, padre de Leonora




Duque de Bretaña




sacristán, gracioso


Duquesa de Bretaña, esposa del Duque de Bretaña

Lorena (no habla)

dama-criada (sirve a la Duquesa de Bretaña)






pastora, esposa de Corbato








barbero, gracioso



Pero Gil



dama, marquesa, Condesa de Aspurg después, cásase con Carlos


pastor, ¿poeta?



P. anón.:  pastores (cantan 21a; R II, 230a); un paje (25b, acot. 4; 241a, acot. 4, no habla); una dama (25b, acot. 4; 241a, acot. 4; se llama Lorena, 26a; 242a; no habla); dos pajes (29b, acot. 3; 251a, acot.; no hablan); un paje, (habla 34c, 263a); otro paje (habla 34c, 263b); pastores (40b, acot. 3, 278a, acot. 3; 42a, acot. 4, 282a, acot. 4; no hablan).        


Among those celebrating St. John's Day in the little village of Belvalle near Nantes is Sirena, who has fled the life of the court in order to live peacefully in the country.  She and her cousin, Carlos, are in love, but Sirena is also loved by the Duke of Bretaña, who courted her in vain before his recent marriage to Leonora.  The Duke has come to Sirena's village to take her to his palace, on the pretext that her dying father had asked him to care for her.  Leonora, jealous, goes with Ludovico to Belvalle to see that the Duke doesn't make love to Sirena.

Carlos, dressed as a shepherd, is talking to Sirena at her window at night, when the Duke and Florio come along.  Sirena pretends to be a peasant named Fenisa so that the Duke won't realize who she is.  The Duke tries to bribe Carlos (whom he does not recognize) to take him to Sirena's room, but just then Leonora and Ludovico arrive.  Leonora wants to take Sirena and return immediately to the court, knowing that she can watch to see that the Duke leaves Sirena along there.  The Duke protests, saying they must not awaken Sirena, but it appears that everyone in Corbato's house (where Sirena is staying) is already awake.  They agree that Sirena is to return to the court with the Duke and Leonora, and Carlos is to go along as chief hunter for the Duke.


The Duke cannot get Sirena out of his mind, and he devises a plan whereby Leonora will intercede with her on his behalf and that then he will forget Sirena and be Leonora's alone.  Leonora agrees, but plans to get her revenge by courting Carlos.  She tells Sirena about the Duke's plan and asks her to help by speaking to Carlos on her (Leonora's) behalf and sending him to her.  When Carlos comes, Leonora tells him that one who is loved by the Duke loves him, and he, thinking that Sirena has told Leonora of their love, assumes that she is referring to Sirena and replies that he loves in return.

The Duke wants to ask Carlos to help his cause with Sirena, although Floro advises him not to use go-betweens but rather to ignore Sirena and win her over that way.  Leonora, however, promises the Duke that she will persuade Carlos to intercede with Sirena on his behalf, and so the Duke tells Carlos to do exactly as Leonora asks him.  Carlos is confused by this order from the Duke, since he thinks that Leonora is trying to help him and Sirena, and he knows that the Duke, at the same time, is trying to win Sirena for himself.  Meanwhile, Sirena has been told by Leonora that Carlos accepted her overtures of love willingly, so she, too, misunderstands the situation and thinks that Carlos is fickle.  She tells him she's no longer his lover (esposa) but his go-between (tercera), leaving him more bewildered than ever.

Leonora and Sirena appear by night in a window, with the Duke and Carlos nearby.  The Duke suspects that Carlos loves Sirena because he (Carlos) appears to be so upset by the Duke's love for her. In order to find out, he tells Carlos to pretend he's alone, thus allowing the Duke to observe how Sirena talks to him.  At the same time Leonora has grown suspicious about Sirena and Carlos because Sirena was so perturbed when Leonora told her how receptive Carlos was to her.  Leonora therefore tells Sirena to pretend to be alone; thus Leonora can see how Carlos talks to Sirena.  At the beginning of their conversation Sirena is very scornful of Carlos; then, prompted by the Duke, Carlos tells Sirena to stay away from him because his lady is jealous.  Sirena, thinking that he is referring to Leonora, says that that is just fine, because her lover is jealous of him.  On hearing this, the Duke immediately assumes that she is talking about him.  Both Carlos and Sirena are, in fact, terribly jealous of the other's supposed lover.  Finally Carlos, in a fit of jealousy, takes out a dagger and is starting to stab himself when the Duke intervenes.  In an aside, Carlos tells the Duke that he was only pretending, that the whole episode is just a joke.  In order to appease Leonora and end her suspicions of Carlos and Sirena, the latter chides Carlos for attempting suicide in order to hurt her (Sirena) and to make his love, Leonora, jealous.  On hearing this the Duke is angered, but Carlos appeases him by saying that she just saw him talking to Leonora, as the Duke had told him to, and jumped to the wrong conclusion on seeing them together.


Leonora complains to Carlos that he has not obeyed the Duke's orders that he do as she asks and show affection to one loved by the Duke who also loves him.  Carlos reveals that he understood that she was talking about Sirena and that it is Sirena he loves, but that he knows that the Duke loves Sirena too.  Surprised to learn that Carlos loves Sirena, Leonora tells him that Sirena is not faithful and that the two of them should take vengeance on the Duke.  In the meantime Sirena is still unhappy because she believes that Carlos loves someone else.

Leonora, angry now that she knows that Carlos loves Sirena, tells the Duke that Carlos has not done as she asked him.  The Duke, assuming that she means that Carlos has not followed her orders to intercede for him with Sirena, is angry, castigates Carlos for being disobedient, and demands that Carlos arrange a rendezvous for him with Sirena for that night.  At this point Sirena arrives and chides Carlos for revealing their secret love.  In the course of their conversation he tests her constancy by intimating that she and the Duke have a meeting arranged for that night.  The Duke, who had hidden himself while Carlos and Sirena talked, overheard only a few sentences of the conversation, and Carlos is able to appease him by leading him to believe that he has set up an appointment with Sirena for the night.

The news comes that the Duke of Borgoña, Leonora's father, is on his way, so she and the Duke, who is unhappy that he must miss his tryst with Sirena, go to meet him. Sirena, meanwhile, receives a visit from her friends from Belvalle: Corbato, Niso and Fenisa.  She tells them that she is sad and also fearful of the Duke, because he is determined to have her.  Corbato plans to hide her away in the country, so she goes with Fenisa to put on villager clothes.  Carlos appears and is told by Corbato and Niso that Sirena says he has not stood up for her.  He denies this and tells them that he wants to go with them to the country, but without letting Sirena know.  He and Corbato thus set out, with Niso to follow bringing Sirena and Fenisa.

When Sirena and the others return to the country there is a terrible rainstorm.  The two Dukes, Leonora and their group lose their way, but find Corbato's house. Corbato offers them hospitality, food and shelter.  When the meal is served the Duque de Bretaña gets his dinner served backwards -- his chair is backwards, the bread is served face down, and so on.  He realizes that this symbolizes that he did everything wrong or backwards, that he was "el pretendiente al revés."  Sirena and Carlos, who have resolved their differences, announce that they are married and are going to Borgoña with Leonora's father.  The Duke of Bretaña, seeing the error of his ways, and Leonora, no longer having to be jealous of Sirena, are happy together.  As the play ends Fenisa laughingly says they gave the Duke "el rábano por las hojas," a symbol of doing things backward.


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