Act I


The story opens at an inn in Penaranda, on the road between Salamanca and Madrid. Уoung Don Gaston Viratos is receiving а lively send-off from his student friends before he heads for the big city to take up а post working for the govemment.
Gaston’s servant Ambrosio points out that, in the course of one day, they have spent all their money on drink. Gaston does not care. The innkeeper’s daughter, Inez, sings Gaston а romance.
Don Pinto de Fonseca appears. Не is а gauche provincial land-owner on his way to Madrid where his father has arranged for him to mаrrу the lovely Donna Clarissa. Pinto is а little concerned about his lack of courtship technique, whereupon Gaston is more than willing to share his expertise. Ambrosio is obliged to take the part of Clarissa as Gaston encourages Pinto step-by-step through the approach, the flattery, the kissing of the hand, the kiss on the lips. But Pinto is clumsy and unsubtle. Gaston resolves that the bride waiting in Madrid deserves better, namely himself. Не and Ambrosio ply Pinto with drink until he is too drunk to notice Gaston removing his letter of introduction to Clarissa’s father, Don Pantaleone. They leave Pinto asleep and set off for Madrid.

Act II


There is а great commotion among the household staff of the wealthy Don Pantaleone. Everyone is feverishly speculating as to why he has summoned them all. Clarissa, whose heart belongs to one Don Gomez, confides in her maid, Laura, that she has an ominous feeling about it all. Laura tries to reas- sure her that it will work out in the end, but Clarissa doubts this. Once everyone is gathered, Pantaleone announces that he has arranged for Clarissa to marry Don Pinto who is due to arrive that day. Не orders the festive prepara- tions to begin. Everyone is very happy except the heartbroken Clarissa. Gomez appears and she pledges herself to him, come what may. They part hurriedly when Laura reports that Pantaleone is approaching.

Act III


In the middle of the preparations, Gaston and Ambrosio arrive. Ambrosio engages in flirtatious exchanges with Laura, and advises against settling down with one girl, for if the one proves unfaithful, it is always better to have two or three others waiting in the wings.

Gomez appears. Не believes that Gaston is Pinto, arrived to marry Clarissa, and appeals to him not to come between two loving hearts. Gaston, however, indicates his intention to marry Clarissa as planned. Gomez appeals to him again, saying that if Gaston only knew how much his heart burned for Clarissa he would understand. Gaston finally relents and withdraws, giving Gomez the letter of introduction to Pantaleone that he had taken from the real Pinto and wishing him well. As Pantaleone enters with Clarissa, everyone else is trying to work out who it is that Clarissa is to marry. Who is the real Pinto? Gomez introduces himself to Pantaleone as Pinto. Laura and а chorus of girls enter with garlands for the happy pair.

Suddenly the real Pinto arrives, all in а state because he is late. When Pantaleone asks him who he is and what’s his business, Pinto announces himself and declares that he is to marry Clarissa. Не then steps up to Clarissa and makes an awkward attempt to apply the instruction he had received from Gaston, to the point of asking for а kiss. Gomez and Gaston both protest strongly at this behaviour, and Pantaleone, who is appalled, orders Pinto to leave. Pinto spots Gaston and, now in а rage, shouts accusations and abuse. Gaston invites him to draw his sword, but Pinto loses his nerve and declines. Не is thrown out.

Now at last Clarissa is free to marry her true love, her Gomez. Everyone celebrates, not least Gaston and Ambrosio.