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About this Piece

Act I

Tisbe and Clorinda, the daughters of Don Magnifico, are dressing and singing their own praises. Cenerentola, their stepsister, sings resignedly to herself as she does the housework. Alidoro, the Prince’s tutor appears, disguised as a beggar, to better to observe and to ascertain if any young girl in the region is a suitable wife for the Prince. When he asks for charity, the sisters order him out, but Cenerentola gives him coffee and bread. Then the Prince’s men arrive and announce that the Prince himself will shortly arrive to invite Don Magnifico and his daughters to a ball at where he will choose his future wife. While the stepsisters order Cenerentola to make preparations, Don Magnifico enters in a dressing gown and relates a dream he has just had of a donkey which sprouted wings and flew up to the top of a church tower. He at once interprets it: the donkey is himself, the wings are his two daughters, the church means a marriage and the flight to the top of the tower means a rise in the social scale.

Prince Ramiro appears disguised as his own valet, Dandini. He has come on Alidoro’s advice, to spy out the land. The first person he sees is Cenerentola, and their attraction to each other is instantaneous. Ramiro asks who she is, but in her agitation she can give only a confused account of herself. Dandini, dressed as the Prince, now enters with a full complement of knights. He invites Magnifico and his daughters to accompany him to his coach to the ball and they are on the point of starting when Cenerentola intervenes and begs to be allowed to go too. Her stepfather brutally refuses, explaining to the supposed Prince that she is a creature of the lowest birth. Just then Alidoro reappears, no longer as a beggar and declares that, according to the register, the Baron has three daughters. Where, he asks, is the third one? Don Magnifico, in some embarrassment, explains that she is dead and silences Cenerentola’s protests with threats. Thereupon they all go out, leaving Cenerentola by herself. But a moment later Alidoro returns and tells her that she shall go to the ball after all; he has provided a coach, a gown, and jewels.

Ramiro instructs Dandini to test the characters of the two ladies, Clorinda and Tisbe and report to him later. When the ladies arrive, Dandini explains that he can marry only one of them, and suggests that the other shall marry his valet. They both indignantly refuse to consider such a plebeian union. Alidoro now approaches and announces the arrival of an unknown and masked lady.

The stepsisters show signs of jealousy, which increases at the entrance of the newcomer. She is last persuaded to remove her veil and everyone is amazed by her beauty. The sisters are struck by her resemblance to Cenerentola. The whole company is confused as they prepare for dinner.

Act II

Ramiro suspects that Dandini has also fallen in love with the mysterious lady and conceals himself as they approach. Dandini in fact begins to persue her, but she rejects his advances and declares that she herself is in love with someone else — with his valet. Ramiro discloses himself, but the lady announces that before they can be betrothed Ramiro must discover who she really is. She gives him a bracelet and tells him that she will always wear the other so that he can recognize her by it when he finds her.

Ramiro decides to end his masquerade and to follow the unknown lady to the ends of the earth. Dandini is now joined by the Baron and, under an oath of secrecy, admits that he is not really the Prince. The Baron’s indignation knows no bounds.

Cenerentola is once more singing to herself by the fire. Her stepsisters back from the ball, are again struck by her resemblance to the unknown lady. A storm causes the Ramiro's coach to break down outside the house, and he and Dandini seek shelter inside. Ramiro is revealed to all to be the true Prince. He recognises the bracelet on Cenerentola’s arm, and to the surprise and anger of the Baron and his daughters, pronounces her his chosen bride.

Cenerentola, now Ramiro’s bride, proclaims to the Baron and his daughters that her revenge for their cruelty is to be forgiveness. And they all live happily ever after.