The Duenna

Definition

Theater

  • A comedy by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, with musicby his father-in-law, Thomas Linley. During their collaborationSheridan somehow managed to conceal the nature of the show's plot, which was inspired by his own elopement with Linley's daughter, Elizabeth,a year earlier. Opening in 1775 at Covent Garden, the work ran for 75 performances, exceeding the previous record of 68 set by Gay's The Beggar's Opera (1728). Indeed, the show was so successful that Sheridan was able to buy a controlling interest in Drury Lanefrom David Garrick with the proceeds.

    The story involves the ill-tempered Don Jerome, who wantshis daughter Louisa to wed the rich Isaac Mendoza. Louisa, however,loves the poorer Antonio. The duenna (governess and chaperon) actsas a go-between for Louisa and Antonio; when Don Jerome discoversthis he dismisses her and confines Louisa to the house. Louisa escapesdisguised as the duenna, who stays behind in her place. Mendoza isthen tricked into marrying the duenna.

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