Short summary - The Love of Three Oranges or L'amore delle tre melarance
Once upon a time, the great magician and wizard Durandarte came to the city of Serendippe. The king of this city, Deramo, received the guest with unprecedented luxury and courtesy, for which the grateful wizard left him two amazing magical secrets as a gift.
No matter how powerful Durandarte was, according to the verdict of the fairy god Demogorgon, he had to turn into a Parrot, and a faithful servant of Cigolotti took him to the Ronchislap Forest located not far from Serendipp. However, in due course, Durandarte promised to come to punish the betrayal caused by one of his wonderful gifts.
King Deramo is unmarried. At one time, he interrogated two thousand seven hundred and forty-eight princesses and noble maidens in a secret office, but did not want to see any of them as his queen. Now the cunning first minister Tartaglia sang to him that, they say, the people are dissatisfied with the absence of the heir to the throne, unrest is possible ... The king agreed to arrange a new test, to which girls of all classes were admitted this time.
Tartaglia is pleased that Deramo heeded his arguments, because he expects his daughter Clarice to become queen. By lot, she was the first to go to a secret office, but Clarice is by no means happy and asks her father to save her from the test - she loves Leandro, the son of the second minister of Pantalone, and, in addition, she does not want to cross the path of her best friend, sister Leandro Angela, madly in love with the king. Tartaglia, threatening her daughter with poison, nevertheless forces her to go to a secret office. His fury is caused not only by Clarice's disobedience, but also by the news of Angela's love for Deramo - the minister himself has long been restless with the desire to get the girl to be his wife.
Angela also does not want to be tested in a secret office, but she has her own reasons for that. She is sure that the king will reject her and her love, and she cannot survive such a shame and humiliation. Father, Pantalone, would be happy to save Angela from a difficult procedure for her, but this, alas, is beyond his power.
Another contender for the hand and heart is the butler's sister, Smeraldina. This person does not shine with the beauty and subtlety of her manners, but on the other hand she is completely sure of success - in fact, who can resist her luxurious outfit in oriental taste and to the place of twisted poems by Tacco and Ariosto? Smeraldina is so alien to doubts about victory that she resolutely and irrevocably rejects her old lover, the royal huntsman Truffaldino.
Many tried to understand what the meaning of the test was, but in vain, because no one except Deramo knew about the wonderful gift of the magician Durandart hidden in the office - a magical statue that unmistakably exposes the lies and hypocrisy of women.
Clarice’s speeches addressed to Deramo are recognized by the statue as sincere until, in response to the king’s question, whether her heart has already been given to someone else, she answers “no”. Then it begins to make faces, and Deramo realizes that the girl is lying.
When Smeraldina enters the office, even her first words make the statue writhe with laughter. The self-confident person even faints from her supposedly overwhelming feelings; they take her out.
Imagine the amazement of the king when, throughout his long conversation with Angela, the statue does not move a single muscle. Touched by the sincerity of her words of love for him, Deramo convenes the courtiers and solemnly declares Angela his bride. In order to make it clear to everyone how he chose her from hundreds of others, the king tells the courtiers about the wonderful gift of Durandart, and then, in order to avoid temptations, breaks the statue with his own hands.
Pantalone is filled with gratitude to the sovereign for the honor rendered to his daughter. Tartaglia, although he builds a satisfied mine, feels hellish fury in his heart and feels ready for any atrocities.
Tartaglia scolds Clarice for the fact that she revealed to the king her love for Leandro and thereby did not allow her father to become the royal father-in-law and at the same time destroyed his, Tartaglia, dreams of marrying Angela. But still, the cunning minister hopes that not everything is lost for him, and therefore, in response to the requests of Angela and Leandro to bless their union, he persuades the young people to wait a little.
Barely leaving the temple where he married Angela, Deramo arranges a merry royal hunt in the Ronchislap Forest. And now they find themselves in a secluded place together with Tartaglia, who has planned something bad: to kill the king, capture the city and take Angela as his wife by force. Only an accident prevents him from shooting Deramo in the back.
Being a shrewd person, Deramo notices that something wrong is going on in his minister's soul, and directly asks Tartaglia what he is dissatisfied with. In response, the cunning courtier begins to complain that, despite thirty years of faithful service, the king does not consider him worthy of his full trust - for example, at least he did not tell Durandart about the wonderful gifts.
Kind-hearted Deramo, wanting to console Tartaglia, tells him about the second of the magician's gifts - a hellish spell. The one who reads this spell over the body of a dead animal or person will die, and his spirit will move into a lifeless body; the same magic words allow a person to return to his former shell. In words, Tartaglia is insanely grateful to the king, but in fact, a diabolical plan has already matured in his head.
When Deramo and Tartaglia happen to kill two deer, the minister persuades the king to demonstrate the effect of the spell. Deramo pronounces it, moves into the body of a deer and runs away into the forest. Tartaglia repeats the spell over the lifeless body of the king - and now he is no longer the first minister, but the monarch. Tartaglia decapitates his own corpse and throws it into the bushes, and sets up a chase for the Deer King. The old peasant he met, unfortunately, did not see any deer, for which he receives a bullet from the ferocious Tartaglia and dies on the spot. The courtiers are amazed at the change that has taken place with their noble master, his viciousness and rudeness of speeches, but of course they cannot suspect a forgery.
To tears, Angela is also amazed by the change in her wife, to whom Tartaglia, barely returning from the hunt, approaches with her love. The rejected impostor is somewhat discouraged, but he is sure that everything will settle down in time.
Truffaldino, meanwhile, finds the headless body of Tartaglia in the forest and brings news of the murder of the first minister to the palace. Tartaglia uses the opportunity to give free rein to his mad temper and orders to throw into prison all those who took part in the hunt.
In the forest of Truffaldino, not only the corpse of Tartaglia was caught, but also the talking Parrot. The magician Durandarte - and it was he - himself went into the hands of the huntsman and, in addition, advised him to take himself to the palace to the queen - she, they say, would generously reward Truffaldino for such a rare game.
Deramo, having left the chase, stumbles upon the body of an old man killed by Tartaglia and decides that it is better for him to live, even in an unpresentable, but still human form, than in the body of a deer. He utters a spell and turns into an old peasant.
Truffaldino brings the Parrot to the Queen, but, contrary to the hunter's expectations, Angela does not give him a pile of gold for the bird. Angela has confusion and longing in her heart, so she asks Truffaldino to leave, and when he begins to persist, even - which is so unlike her - threatens to throw him off the balcony. While they are bickering, a guard appears and, in pursuance of Tartaglia's order, grabs Truffaldino and drags him to the dungeon.
Deramo, in the form of an old man, nevertheless enters his palace and, seizing the moment, speaks to Angela. At first, she is horrified, mixed, however, with embarrassment - after all, no matter how ugly the old man is, he speaks in the voice of her husband. Deramo tries to convince Angela that he is him. In the speeches of the old man, the queen gradually recognizes the loftiness of thought and feeling that has always been characteristic of the king; Finally, her doubts are dispelled when Deramo recalls the tender morning conversation between them. Now that Angela has recognized the king in the ugly old man, they work together to figure out how to return Deramo to his former appearance and punish the vile first minister.
Some time later, having met Tartaglia, Angela pretends that she is about ready to change her attitude towards him and reciprocate - for this, a little is not enough. Tartaglia is ready to fulfill whatever she asks: she orders the release of Pantalone and Brighella innocently imprisoned there, blesses the marriage of Clarice and Leandro ... The third request of Angela - to show the effect of the Durandarte spell and move into a dead deer - Tartaglia promises to respect only after the queen will make him happy with her caresses. This is not part of Angelo's plans with Deramo; the girl resists, Tartaglia drags her by force into the back chambers.
Unable to bear such a sight, Deramo comes out of hiding and rushes at Tartaglia. He is already raising his sword at the king, when suddenly the rumble of an earthquake is heard - this is the magician Durandarte sheds bird feathers and appears in his real guise.
With the touch of the wand, the wizard returns Deramo to his former appearance, and Tartaglia, having exposed his meanness and betrayal, turns him into an ugly horned monster. In rage and despair, Tartaglia prays to be shot on the spot, but by the will of Durandarte he will have to die not from a bullet, but from the pangs of shame and disgrace.
The stupefaction that struck all those who saw the miracles of Durandarte does not immediately disappear. But now that betrayal has been punished and justice has triumphed, it's time to start preparing for a merry wedding feast.