Scapin was among the last plays Moliere wrote. It seems at first to be a slight play about nothing in particular; yet it bears the marks of a genius of plot construction, and has a sense of language and character that is knowingly comic. That the play is so light-hearted testifies to Moliere's personal courage. At the time it was written his health was already failing, his wife's infidelities were tormenting him, and he was embroiled in a political intrigue at the court of Louis XIV which ended his relationship with his longtime musical collaborator, Jean-Baptiste Lully. The famous inventors of the comedie-ballet never worked together again.
Our production takes its inspiration from the play's premiere before the court of Louis XIV, the Sun King. It opened on May 24, 1671, and ran only seventeen performances. The original stage directions describe it as set in Naples, which is north of Taranto on the Italian coast. To be sure, the style is grounded in the Italian comedy with which Moliere was so familiar, but the Italian setting has no more to do with the play than do the imagined settings of Shakespeare's plays.
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