All the girls in Venice are besotted by Marco and Giuseppe Palmieri, two of the gondoliers, and reject all other offers of love until the brothers are no longer available. Marco and Giuseppe announce that they will pick their brides through a game of blind-man's-buff, and after some crafty play catch Gianetta and Tessa - just the girls they wanted! Amid general rejoicing the couples go off to get married.
The impoverished Duke and Duchess of Plaza-Toro, with their daughter Casilda and their 'suite', Luiz, now arrive in Venice, having made the journey from Spain to seek the husband whom Casilda married in infancy, the son of the King of Barataria. The child was taken from the court by Don Alhambra del Bolero, the Grand Inquisitor of Spain, and brought up as a gondolier, ignorant of his true identity. Now it is time for him to ascend the throne with Casilda at his side. The difficulty is that he is known to be either Marco or Giuseppe, but no one knows which, except the woman who nursed the young Prince, who just happens to be Luiz' mother. The news that Casilda is married sends her and Luiz into despair, for they are secretly in love, but they have to conceal their anguish, and Luiz is despatched to fetch his mother to Barataria.
Don Alhambra reveals to the newly married Marco and Giuseppe that one of them is a King, and that they are both to be taken to Barataria immediately. Though they are both Republicans, they manage to overcome their political scruples and promise to give their friends places at court. After a fond farewell to the girls - for Don Alhambra craftily tells them that ladies are not allowed in court - the men sail off to Barataria.
In Act II we see that the gondoliers have quickly set up a relaxed 'Republican Monarchy' where the only pleasure missing is the company of their wives. This is soon remedied by the arrival of all the contadine, but the situation soon gets complicated when Don Alhambra reveals to Marco and Giuseppe that one of them is a bigamist, having been married to Casilda as a baby. This throws everyone into a state of anxiety, except for the Duke and Duchess, who have found a range of money-making methods. Finally Tessa and Gianetta encounter Casilda. Only the arrival of Inez, the former nurse can throw light on the problem and reveal to all the rightful King of Barataria - will it be Marco or Giuseppe?
|Giuseppe||Geoff Allan||Neil Edwards|
|Francesco||Keith Geary||Matthew Baker|
|Giorgio||Mark Hancox||Nick Presdee|
|The Duchess of Plaza-Toro||Scilla Copper||Sarah Bignall|
|The Duke of Plaza-Toro||Chris Bailward||Chris Bailward|
|Luiz||Simon Wills||Lloyd Davies|
|Don Alhambra Del Bolero||David MacTier||Andrew Armstrong|
|Marco||Andrew Armstrong||James Craw|
|Casilda||Janet Allan||Lucy D'Cruz|
|Gianetta||Myfanwy Brember||Philly Fraser|
|Tessa||Linda Mumford||Allison Edwards|
|Fiametta||Sheila Wills||Sarah Fraser|
|Vittoria||Susan Wales||Charlotte Allan|
|Vittoria 2||Ruth Shipley|
|Giulia||Candice Marcus||Ellie John|
|Flower Seller||Diane Coe|
|Inez||Naomi Thorp||Scilla Copper|