The Liar (Goldoni play)

The Liar (Italian: Il bugiardo) is a comedy by Carlo Goldoni. It was written as part of Goldoni's fulfilment of a boast that he had inserted into the epilogue to one of his plays that for the next season he would write sixteen comedies. The Liar, along with the fifteen other comedies, was staged in the 1750-51 season at the Teatro San Angelo in Venice.[1] It draws on commedia dell'arte conventions and stock characters.

The Liar
Opening scene of The Liar
Written byCarlo Goldoni
CharactersLelio, the Liar
Arlecchino, his servant
Pantalone, his father
Doctor Balanzone
Rosaura and Beatrice, his daughters
Columbina, their maidservant
Florindo, assistant to Balanzone, in love with Rosaura
Brighella, his friend, in love with Colombina
Ottavio, in love with Beatrice
Date premiered1750-51
Place premieredTeatro Sant' Angelo in Venice
Original languageVenetian


Lelio, a Venetian who has spent years away from home, returns to Venice. He courts the two daughters of Doctor Balanzone, Beatrice and Rosaura, without telling them which one he really loves. Meanwhile, each girl has another suitor, Florindo for Rosaura and Ottavio for Beatrice. Florindo is shy, however, and will not tell Rosaura that he loves her. This allows Lelio to concoct fabulous lies and convince Rosaura that he wishes to marry her. Meanwhile, Lelio's servant Arlecchino tries to woo the Doctor's servant Columbina away from Brighella, Florindo's friend.

Lelio's lies get him into deeper and deeper trouble with the girls, their father, and his own father Pantalone. At the end, it is revealed that while in Rome he married a Roman lady, Cleonice Anselmi. He departs to go to her, leaving Rosaura and Beatrice free to marry Florindo and Ottavio, and Columbina free to marry Brighella.


  1. ^ Holme (1976, 108, 190).


  • Holme, Timothy (1976). A Servant of Many Masters: The Life and Times of Carlo Goldoni. London: Jupiter. ISBN 0-904041-61-1.

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