Stephen Wadsworth

Plays written by Stephen Wadsworth

THE BARBER OF SEVILLE (trans. and adapt. from Beaumarchais)

CHANGES OF HEART (trans. and adapt. from Marivaux)

DON JUAN (trans. and adapt. from Molière)

THE GAME OF LOVE AND CHANCE (Trans. and adapt. from Marivaux)

THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO (trans. and adapt. from Beaumarchais)

MIRANDOLINA (trans. and adapt. from Goldoni)

THE TRIUMPH OF LOVE (trans. and adapt. from Marivaux)



Barber of Seville (1775)—(8M, 2W). The first play in Beaumarchais’ revolutionary series of plays centering on Figaro, the barber, and his relationship with his old master, Count Almaviva. Figaro proves instrumental in introducing the Count to Rosine, his future wife, though the Count must assume different identities and Figaro must jump through extreme comic hoops to stay ahead of Doctor Bartolo, Rosine’s guardian who intends to marry her himself. Beaumarchais assimilated ancient comedy types and situations into an arrestingly modern play about class, gender and passion.

Changes of Heart (1723)—(3W, 4M). Silvia, a beautiful country girl, is kidnapped and brought to the palace by the Prince, who is in love with her. But she has a lover, none other than the irreverent rapscallion Harlequin, who explodes into the palace to get her back. Flaminia, an intriguer at court, engineers a peace between Silvia and the Prince, and finds herself drawn to Harlequin. They all end up, baffled, in a new configuration. Marivaux’s glittering comedies are all about change—the aspirations, the self-question, the doubt, the yearning, the fear, the excitement, the not knowing. “Wadsworth seems to be in communion with the playwright” (The New York Times).

Don Juan (1665)—(4W, 6M or 5W, 7M). On his last day, Don Juan pursues women of several classes, kills a man then invites his statue to dinner, and argues with his servant Sganarelle about the church, the king, and free thinking. Don Juan descends to hell at the end. Molière’s scathing assessment of social, political and religious trends in France was censored from the its first performance, and virtually disappeared by French censors over many years. Stephen Wadsworth’s brilliant reconstruction of the play catches its virtuosic satire and wit as well as all of its slashing edginess. One of the most important (and entertaining) political plays in the western canon.

The Game of Love and Chance (1730) –(2W, 5M). Silvia decides to trade clothes with her servant Lisette in order to study the young man has suggested she marry. He arrives, having exchanged clothes with his servant, Harlequin, who plays king-for-a-day with abandon. As always in Marivaux’s plays, the ground shifts and everyone’s expectations are deeply challenged. One of the classic comedies of the French repertoire rendered in Wadsworth’s ravishing, hilarious translation.

The Marriage of Figaro (1784)—(4W, 11M or 5W, 10M). The second of Beaumarchais’ Figaro plays, this is his masterpiece and one of the great political plays ever written. On the morning of his wedding Figaro learns that the Count is trying to bed his fiancée and will stop at nothing to prevent the wedding. Figaro’s wit, diplomacy, ingenuity and even love are tested over the course of a day of comic madness. An endlessly inventive situation comedy exploring human liberty and resilience, Figaro and its hero were thought by political leaders on all sides to have played a catalystic role in the French Revolution and the coming of democracy.

Mirandolina (1753)—(5W, 7M). Goldoni introduced a fresh realism into Italian drama, nowhere more than in this gently Chekhovian comedy, in which a charismatic, smart female innkeeper is courted by three of her guests, one of them a fiercely misogynist misanthrope, and her own servant. Things come to a head in a rollicking ensemble finale. Full of fast, sparkling comic action, the play focuses on class and gender —the passing of the old and the coming of the new inspired Goldoni to a warmly compassionate, non-judgmental omniscience. Wadsworth’s adaptation is rich and funny.


Stephen Wadsworth’s other writing for the stage includes the opera A Quiet Place (1983), which he co-authored with Leonard Bernstein, the story for Amelia, an opera by Daron Hagen and Gardner McFall, and numerous translations of operas by Handel, Mozart and Monteverdi. He has directed on Broadway, in the West End and regionally, and is recognized as a master of classical repertoire from Aeschylus and Shakespeare to Wilde and Coward, but has staged world premieres by Beth Henley, Anna Deavere Smith and Ken Ludwig. One of the great opera directors of his generation, he has three productions in the repertory of the Metropolitan Opera and has directed at La Scala, the Vienna State Opera, London’s Royal Opera, the Edinburgh Festival, and many other companies in the U.S. and abroad, notably Seattle Opera, where his famous production of Wagner’s Ring cycle played from 2000-2013. The French government made him a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters for his work on Marivaux and Molière, he has been a Sundance Playwrighting Fellow at Ucross, a regular script consultant for the Sundance Theatre Lab, a judge for the PEN Literary Awards, and a Harman/Eisner Artist in Residence at the Aspen Institute.

* Please note that some titles are handled by Dramatists Play Service, Samuel French, Dramatic Publishing, Broadway Play Publishing, and  Please ask if you don’t see a particular play.