PLOT SUMMARIES FOR I FINTI EREDI, LE GARE GENEROSE,
AND L'INCOGNITA PERSEGUITATA
(OPERAS MENTIONED FREQUENTLY
BUT NOT SUMMARIZED IN NGO)
The opera opens with quarrelsome couplings. The Cavaliere dall'Oca and Isabella, daughter of Don Griffagno, the local administrator, plainly detest each other, and the peasants Giannina and Pierotto quarrel. Both Don Griffagno and the Cavaliere show inappropriate interest in Giannina, which does not improve Pierotto's temper. The rumor circulates that the longlost heir to the local marquisate has been found. Isabella takes a fancy to Pierotto and decides to pass him off as that heir, which will allow her to marry him. Giannina, meanwhile, imagines herself swept up by the incoming heir, and in any case, Pierotto thinks her in love with the Cavaliere. The first-act finale, which takes place at night, starts with Don Griffagno, the Cavaliere, and Pierotto all creeping out to woo Giannina; Giannina herself has come out to try and make amends with Pierotto, whom she has heard singing a serenade. Accusations and counter-accusations fly.
The second act begins as Don Griffagno plans to announce that Giannina is actually the true heir to the marquisate, which will allow him to marry her. His daughter Isabella is still determined to marry Pierotto in his guise as the new heir. Giannina and Pierotto meet in their new personae and quarrel about who should bow to whom. (Giannina insults Pierotto by assuming that his new clothes represent his future job as her cook—after all, he does make a great polenta.) In the midst of this, the real marquis appears. The locals take him for a lunatic impostor but are eventually convinced of the correctness of his claim and the falsity of their own. The Marquis decides to give a party to celebrate his return, in the course of which he will indicate his choice of wife by throwing her a handkerchief. He has, of course, chosen Giannina. The handkerchief is thrown and Pierotto picks it up, at first not understanding its implication. Once he understands what is going on, he excoriates the Marquis and pleads with the other characters to intercede on his behalf. Everyone (including Giannina) refuses. Finally