The Taming of the Shrew - Synopsis

Der Widerspenstigen Zähmung Der Widerspenstigen Zähmung. Marlon Dino. ©Tandy Der Widerspenstigen Zähmung. Ensemble. © Hösl

The Taming of the Shrew

Ballet by John Cranko based on William Shakespeare
Music by Kurt-Heinz Stolze based on Domenico Scarlatti


Act I

1. Outside Baptista’s House.
Hortensio, a fop, Lucentio a student, and Gremio, an elderly  roué, serenade the beautiful Bianca. Their love songs are brusquely interrupted by Katherina. Baptista explains to the suitors that Kate, as the elder of his two daughters, must be married first. Neighbors, awakened by rumpus, chase the thwarted lovers away.

2. A Tavern.
Petruchio, a gentleman of more generosity than means is stripped of his last penny by two ladies of the streets. The suitors suggest that he might be interested in the charms and the fortune of Katherina. He agrees.

3. Inside Baptista’s House.
Bianca muses over her preferences among her three suitors; she is interrupted by a jealous outburst from Kate who calls her a scheming flirt. This dispute is further interrupted by the arrival of Petruchio accompanied by Gremio, Lucentio, and Hortensio, disguised at Teachers of Singing, Dancing, and Music. Petruchio is none too favorably received by Kate.
Alone with Bianca the suitors doff their disguises and continue their wooing in the form of lessons. Bianca soon recognizes Lucentio as the most desirable.
Kate reacts violently against Petruchio’s protestations of passion thinking that they are a false mockery, but something in his manner convinces her enough to agree to the marriage.

4. A Street.
The neighbors on their way to Kate’s nuptials treat the matter as a huge joke. The three suitors join them, now in high hopes that Bianca will soon be won.

5. Baptista’s House.
The guests have arrived. Kate is in her bridal array, but the bridegroom appears to have forgotten the day. When he does appear, in fantastic garb, Petruchio misbehaves, ill-treats the priest, and carries-off the bride before the wedding festivities have begun.

Act II

1. The journey to Petruchio’s House.
Petruchio proceeds with his taming of Katherina by extinguishing the fire and finding fault with the food. Kate has a hard, cold, hungry night.

2. Carnival.
A masked and cloaked stranger appears to Gremio and Hortensio during the carnival. Both of them believing her to be Bianca are only too eager to take their marriage vows. Too late they discover that they have been duped and married vows. Too late they discover that they have been duped and married the two ladies of the streets, suitably briefed; bribed, and disguised by Lucensio.

3. Petruchio’s House again.
When Petruchio finds fault with the new clothes that he has ordered for Katherina, her weary resistance finanlly crumbles and she capitulates to her master; only to find that her master is kinder, wittier husband than she has imagined.

4. The journey to Bianca’s wedding.
Petruchio indulges in a few more whims and fancies, but Kate has learned her lesson, and joins in the fun.

5. Bianca’s wedding.
Gremio and Hortensio have found out that the joys of marriage are a mixed blessing, and even Lucentio has reason to fear that Bianca is not the angel that she appeared to be. Kate, on the other hand, and to everybody’s astonishment, turns out to be the truest, most obedienst, most loving of wives. Which only goes to show that women are not always what they appear to be, or never judge a book by its cover.