The action takes place in the town of Marino, near Rome.
Sir Lelio, a gentleman, confesses to his servant Anselmo that he
has fallen in love with the young Violante. Ignoring that she is
the pupil of his friend Fabrizio, he inquires after her. The tutor
defines her as naive and reluctant to marry, but only because he
intends to marry the young woman himself so as not to lose his
fortune. The gentleman asks for help wooing Violante, and Fabrizio
reluctantly agrees to assist him.
Violante expresses her contempt towards love and Fabrizio’s
attempts to woo her. Pippo arrives, a wealthy shepherd who is of
the same opinion as Violante when it comes to love. It also turns
out that they both come from the same village. Although at first
the conversation between the two is tense, she finally agrees to
give him her hand “for pity’s sake.”
Fabrizio has to bite his tongue when he learns through Pippo about
the shepherd’s conversation with Violante, who has fed him lunch
“for pity’s sake.” Faced with the anger of her tutor, Violante
feigns obedience, throwing a paper-wrapped stone at the shepherd.
Upon reading the paper, Fabrizio confirms that Violante really does
love Pippo and he flies into a rage. The gentleman appears and
attacks Pippo when it becomes clear that the shepherd is his rival
for the girl’s love. The scene ends in confusion.
Fabrizio tricks Violante by telling her that Pippo has a wife and
children; he likewise tries to fool the shepherd into believing
that Violante is to be married to her tutor, Pompeo Tiritappa. When
Pippo and Violante meet again, the two begin to reproach each
other, but finally the lies are cleared up and Fabrizio has to
admit to Pippo that he is Violante’s tutor and that it is he that
wants to marry the young woman. This makes him devise yet another
plan, namely, to confine her in a house in a secluded forest.
The gentleman tries again to woo Violante, but she rejects him,
leaving the young man to lament his bad luck.
In a forest, Fabrizio locks Violante in a house so that she cannot
see Pippo, but the shepherd has followed them and finds a solution:
the pupil will escape through a secret passage and Menica,
Fabrizio’s daughter, will take her place to fool the tutor. When
the gentleman appears once more to woo Violante, the situation
takes an absurd turn, with Violante and Pippo pretending to be
foreigners and not understand what the gentleman is saying.
However, Fabrizio ends up discovering the deception.
Fleeing from Fabrizio’s anger, Violante loses her way in the
forest. The gentleman and the tutor both look for her separately,
but it is Pippo who finds her and they declare themselves united in
marriage. When the others appear, they have no choice but to accept
the situation and sing about the triumph of love.