Sicilian-American Theatre

The Sicilian Text

Here's another of playwright and actor Giovanni De Rosalia's (1864-1934) comedies. The original Sicilian title is, Nofrio Senzali di Matrimoniu. For a discussion of De Rosalia, some of his other work and to see the original Italian and Sicilian text of this comedy, go to Joe Accardi's Prima Pagina.


The English Translation


Nofrio The Matchmaker
A Comedy by
Giovanni De Rosalia
© 1919
Biblioteca Siciliana

The Cast


(A room with a comfortable decor. A table to the right of the actor with books and requisite writing materials. Two side doors. An entrance hall at the back. Some chairs and easy chairs).


Cal. (puttting the room in order). If the boss doesn't pay me for the four months that I have already worked, I'm out of here! Now you'll see how unlucky I happened to be born: it's bad enough that I'm condemned to be a servant, now I'm not even going to get paid! I've been with this boss for five months and he's yet to give me my first months pay.

Nof. (from off stage). Caloriu, Caloriu!

Cal. What do you want?

Nof. (from off stage) Where did you put my fountain pen?

Cal. In the dresser!

Nof. (on stage). I've told you a hundred times, you should put the fountain pen in the night table.

Cal. Instead of thinking of things like those, you should think of my four months of back pay.

Nof. Caloriu, I've told you a hundred times, I don't want to hear that!

Cal. So then what am I hearing, that you're expecting me to work without pay?

Nof. Of course not! Every worker has a right to be paid!

Cal. Well then why don't you pay me?

Nof. Caloriu, I've told you...

Cal. I've told you a hundred times that I don't want to discuss that! Well then I'm telling you that if you don't give me my four months back pay then I'm leaving!

Nof. You're leaving? Do you have the guts to leave?

Cal. Sir, for the entire first month you told me...

Nof. That should convince you that I'm a good for it! Have I ever told you that I don't want to pay you?

Cal. No, never!

Nof. Well then? Haven't you noticed that no one has come into my agency to be married ?

Cal. Do I have to wait for people to be married before I can get paid? Why do people need you when they want to marry? A young man sees a young lady, he likes her, He goes to her father and says:: "I'd like to marry your daughter?" If the father says yes, and the young lady is willing, they get married and that's it; why do they need you?

Nof. You don't know what you're talking about, that's why you've talked incessantly without having said anything? The people who want my service generally are widows, or else those who don't want to lose time by courting this one and that one.

Cal. Yes, but in the five months that I've been here I haven't seen anyone other than the young lady that came in yesterday.

Nof. Now that winter is coming, you'll see how many will come here!

Cal. Yes, we're waiting for winter to arrive! (a doorbell off stage).

Nof. Go and open the door, see who's here!

Cal. Off we go to open the door! (exits back stage)

Nof. Caloriu is right! But what can I do? No one's getting married; expenses are high!

CALOGERO and others then FILIPPO

Cal. Come in, come in!

Fil. Good morning!

Nof. Good morning! What can I do for you?

Fil. They've sent me here saying you know how to arrange good marriages.

Nof. I can't tell you haw many marriages I have arranged, only God knows! Just think, once someone came in who wanted to get married that same day but as there happened to be a scarcity of women at that time, and since he said that if he didn't find a wife that same day he would shoot himself, I took my sister and gave her to him!

Fil. And would you have a sister for me?

Nof. No! I had only one!

Fil. Nevermind! Will you find me a suitable little wife...

Nof. How old do you want her to be?

Fil. You know, seeing as how I'm a little advanced in age, I would like her to be young, as they say: "A tender mouse for the old tomcat!"

Nof. I agree! And you should know how many beautiful girls I have married to some big tomcats... I have one at hand who is twenty! As tender as a ripe pear! She's alone; and motherless, and wants to be married with a rich man. I don't know how you're fixed for money.

Fil. I'm very rich! I own several mansions!

Nof. Then it's done! Excuse me for asking, how old are you?

Fil. Must I tell you my real age?

Nof. Well how much would you like to take off?

Fil. Since we're dealing with a twenty year old woman I'm afraid that my age would seem... a bit... a bit... how would you say it: a bit...

Nof. Matured?

Fil. Right!

Nof. You must give your actual age!

Fil. I'm fifty three!

Nof. Have you completed your military service?

Fil. Yes!

Nof. Fifty three is a little beyond the range...

Fil. But you could tell the lady that I'm twenty three...

Nof. Wow! You want to take off thirty years?

Fil. I'll dye my hair!

Nof. Impossible! It can't be done! I must tell the young lady your true age, otherwise, after the marriage she'll become aware that she has a little bottle of Chinina Migone for a husband!

Fil. Well then I'll tell the truth. When should I come back?

Nof. Come back in a half hour, because I'm expecting her momentarily.

Fil. If you let me achieve my objective, I'll give you a considerable sum.

Nof. What will you give me?

Fil. A one hundred lira note!

Nof. Leave it up to me! Come back in half an hour... on the other hand; wait here... Caluriu, let this gentleman go in there. (ponts to the door on the right side).

Cal. Very well! (

Fil. and

Cal. exit).

Nof. A hundred lira! Who would have expected this morning that I would have this business? (to

Cal. who is returning) Caloriu, do you see how the Lord is sending his blessings to you and me? Did you hear that he's going to give me a hundred lira?

Cal. Who? This one? When is he going to give you the hundred lira?

Nof. When I let him marry that young lady...

Cal. Which one? The one who was here yesterday? Do you think that beautiful young lady will marry this guy who is uglier than you or me?

Nof. You're right!

Cal. So as you can see there's no hope for my getting my money? Damned! But do you have to be a matchmaker? You should change your occupation!

Nof. And what would I do?

Cal. You could be a carpenter, a mason, a shoemaker...

Nof. You see? Now you're rambling; you're losing my respect...

Cal. And you, why don't you pay me? (doorbell rings).

Nof. Go open the door! (

Cal. goes, biting his finger). All servants are the same: they want to be paid. (trans note: the biting finger gesture can mean: just wait 'till I get even)


Cal. Come in, come in young lady. (shows her in and exits).

Ame. (entering) Good morning, signor Nofrio.

Nof. Good morning to you. Have a seat; why should a beautiful young lady like you be standing! (they sit down).

Ame. Well then, signor Nofrio, have you found a husband for me?

Nof. Young lady, you were born lucky!

Ame. Why?

Nof. Because the Lord has sent you a husband that even a queen can't have!

Ame. Really? Is he young? Is he handsome? Is he rich?

Nof. He owns mansions!

Ame. And he's young and handsome?

Nof. He has some mansions that are truly beautiful!

Ame. But is he handsome and young?

Nof. You've never seen mansions like these!

Ame. Forget the mansions for a minute and tell me if he's young and handsome!

Nof. (aside) She persists! (aloud) Young lady, money is the only true youth and beauty!

Ame. I get the picture! He's old and ugly!

Nof. No, for this purpose he's not too old!

Ame. How old is he?

Nof. Well, young lady, in terms of years you can't say that he has that many! (aside) Nor that few!

Ame. Well how old is he? Forty?

Nof. Passed!

Ame. Even passed? By how much?

Nof. By thirteen years!

Ame. Fifty three? Oh my God.

Nof. But he carries the years well! If you see him you'll say: He's not even twenty years old! Do you know why? Because he has a handsome face!

Ame. So he's handsome, but he's still an old man!

Nof. Young lady, if you would have him; he'll not live much longer!

Ame. And so, I would become a widow in the flower of my youth! Listen, If you can't find me a husband, I'll go to some other agency! (she begins to stand).

Nof. Please wait! (aside) Damnation, not only will I lose the hundred lira fee from that monkey, but I'll also lose the matchmaking fee for this one! (aloud) Young lady, you've come along at a time when there's a real shortage of young men! You should have seen what I had in my office two months ago! There were thirty twenty-year olds here who wanted to get married; and at that time there was a shortage of women!

Ame. And where are they now?

Nof. I married ten of them; six of them became seminarians; a few went to war, and one, unable to bring himself to getting married, ran off with my maid!

Ame. Therefore? What are you saying?

Nof. Young lady, if you'll marry this one I'll let you save money!

Ame. Marry the old man? That will never happen!

Nof. Listen, if you marry him, instead of paying me for the match, I'll pay you!

Ame. Not even for a million!

Nof. (aside) She's right; who would want to marry that swindler?

CALOGERO and the others

Cal. Sir, there's a gentleman who wishes to speak with you!

Nof. Is he a young man or an old men?

Cal. A young man and a handsome guy!

Nof. Thank heavens! The Lord sent him! Young lady, let's see if we can accommodate with this one! You know what I'd like you to do? Go wait in that room and when it's time I'll call you. (points to the door on the left side).

Ame. (happy) Yes, I'll do that! (as she leaves she looks towards the entry hall).

Cal. What searching eyes the young lady has!

Nof. Why, what did she do?

Cal. She wanted to catch sight of the gentleman who's in there!

Nof. Really?

Cal. But she didn't manage to see him! So, what will she do? Will the young lady marry that swindler?

Nof. She says she doesn't want him because he's old!

Cal. Naturally! It follows, if he were a young man would he come here to inconvenience you to find him a wife? I should have told him that this is not a business that gets results! And yet you have the nerve to allow yourself the extavagance of having a servant?

Nof. Caloriu, stay in your place, and respect the proper distance there is between us.

Cal. What distance is there? There's the distance that you have to pay me four months pay and you have to do it today, otherwise I'll show you what I'll do! Surely, without having to pay, even I could afford a servant! I'll be the boss, would you like to be the servant? Oh, doesn't that suit you? Enough, for now I'll go and let him in; then we'll talk! (exits).

Nof. What an ill mannered boor!


Ett. (entering) Good morning! (

Cal. shows him in and exits).

Nof. Good morning! What would you like?

Ett. Tell me, can you procure me a wife on two feet?

Nof. On two feet? Why, are there also wives on four feet?

Ett. No; I mean to say toute de suite.

Nof. Oh, I see! And could you tell me how old you are?

Ett. I'm twenty six!

FILIPPO and others

Fil. (poking his head out the door) Excuse me, signor Nofrio, has she arrived?

Nof. Not yet!

Fil. And what time will she be here?

Nof. A little later!

Fil. I trust it will be soon! (exits)

Nof. (aside) This mausoleum candidate is in a hurry!

Ett. Who is that gentleman?

Nof. Someone who wants to get married!

Ett. At his age, and with that face?

Nof. But you should see what a beautiful lady I'm preparing for him! A twenty year old; as fresh as a rose!

Ett. (with clenched teeth) Young huh? But I don't want her young! I want her somewhat more mature; the young are too capricious! I've got to tell you that I was engaged with a twenty year old, she was beautiful but capricious. In the evening I had to be there at eight on the dot, if I arrived one minute after, she would pout and wouldn't even look me in the face the whole evening. I left her about 15 days ago. Yesterday I learned that she wants to get married with someone else just to spite me; well then, I want to get married before her so she'll die of anger. Can you find me, even today, a lady in her forties? Even a widow! Yes, I'd be happier marrying a widow.

Nof. But, listen to me, not all women are capricious like your finaceť! I have at hand a twenty year old who is an absolute saint.

Ett. Nothing doing! I don't want anything else to do with young ladies! I want a widow, even one who has passed forty? If you can find me a widow I'll give you two hundred lira!

Nof. (aside) I'll be damned! My mother just died! (aloud) But, listen, this is what I propose...

Ett. I don't want reasons! I want a widow and a mature one! The one you want to give me is not mature.

Nof. But she will mature with time!

FILIPPO and others

Fil. (showing his head) Has she arrived?

Nof. Not yet!

Fil. What if she doesn't come?

Nof. She has to be here!

Fil. I trust that she is young! (exits)

Nof. Some want them cooked and some want them raw! If I find a young girl for this one he'll give me a hundred lira, and the other one will give me two hundred lira if I find him an old woman! This one should be paying more than the other one.

CALOGERO and others

Cal. Boss, there's a lady...

Ett. (with anxiety) Is she a widow?

Cal. How would I know.

Nof. (to

Cal.) Show her in!

Cal. Yes sir! (exits)

Nof. (to Ettore) Would you please go in with the other gentleman, I'll see if she's a widow and then I'll let you know.

Ett. Very well! (exits).

Nof. Let's hope she's a widow!


Cal. Come in, come in. (exits).

Pan. (entering) Good morning!

Nof. (aside) Wow is she ever ugly! (aloud) What would you like?

Pan. I want to get married!

Nof. I see? And tell me why?

Pan. Because a woman who's alone is exposed to many dangers! The world, as you know, is evil, and to prevent others from speaking badly of me, I want to get married!

Nof. Excuse me, are you a widow?

Pan. No; I'm single!

Nof. (aside) And who would have married this one? (aloud) You're a little bit late coming to get married!

Pan. As the saying goes: "Better late than never!"

Nof. Yeah!

CALOGERO and others

Cal. Boss, with the lady's permission, I need a word with you..

Nof. (to

Pan.) Will you allow me?

Pan. Yes!

Cal. (Softly to

Nof.) What do you say?

Nof. About what?

Cal. My money at the end of the day? Is there any chance of getting my four months of back pay?

Nof. We'll see! I'm looking for a way... let us hope!

Cal. You need to find a way Sir of paying me, otherwise I'll make this day end badly (exits).

Pan. (with curiosity) What did he tell you?

Nof. Nothing; something that concerns him!

Pan. Yes, I understood; he wants me! But I don't want him! He's ugly!

Nof. (aside) Yes, as if she's so beautiful!

Pan. You know, I want a young husband, and handsome, otherwise my relatives will not be happy!

Nof. Certainly! A young man or nothing!

Pan. Excuse me, are you married?

Nof. Why do you want to know?

Pan. Because I find you very attractive!

Nof. Really? I'm sorry miss, but I'm engaged!

Pan. What a pity!

Nof. What can we do! (changing the subject) At any rate, miss, you know, young men are very scarce in these times, so you need to be adaptable! Let me introduce you to someone who is looking for a single woman; he is rich, and would make a number one marriage.

Pan. (with anxiety) Where is he?

Nof. I'll call him now. You mustn't let him see all of you at once; put yourself like this. (he positions her with her back to the door of the room where Filippo is) I'll call him now, don't move. (he goes to the door and calls) Sir; would you come here.

FILIPPO and others

Fil. (coming out) Has she arrived?

Nof. Yes!

Fil. Is that her? What a beautiful person! She is turned away because she is bashful!

Nof. Yeah!

Fil. May I speak with her?

Nof. Yes, but without approaching her! Speak with her from right here!

Fil. Signorina, this is the first time that I have the pleasure of being near you, and in my heart I feel a palpitation that lets me experience the elation of paradise! I'll be an affectionate husband! My life will be entirely devoted to you, and when we are old... that is, when I am old... no... when I am...

Nof. (interrupting him) More mature than I am...

Fil. Look at this, miss, just being near you I seem to be tongue-tied... Answer me with a word of love, and I'll be the happiest man in the whole world!

Pan. (softly to

Nof.) Should I answer him?

Nof. Yes; but without turning around yet.

Pan. Sir, this is the first time that my ears have heard such sweet words, and I would want to say many things, but my girlish modesty will not allow me to completely open my soul! My heart is beating...

Fil. And mine is also beating...

Nof. (aside) Indeed, they seem like the bell of the Cathedral and the bell of Saint Matthew! They are both so gracious!

Pan. (softly to

Nof.) May I turn around now?

Nof. (softly to Pantasilea) It's not time yet! Wait until I say: one, two, and three!

Fil. Signorina, may I have the pleasure of gazing upon your angelic visage? Don't deprive me of this highest good at this moment when we must decide our future; I beg you, turn around...

Nof. (clapping his hands) One, two, and three!

Pan. (turning around all of a sudden) What? My cousin Filippo?

Fil. My cousin Pantasilea?

Pan. Ah! Ah! My God! (she faints into a chair)

Fil. Holy angels of Paradise! (he faints)

Nof. What's come over the two of them? (calling) Caloriu! Caloriu!

CALOGERO and the others

Cal. What happened?

Nof. Be good enough to fetch me a little bit of vinegar, because these two have succumbed!

Cal. I'll get vinegar for no one! I want my four months of back pay! How do I have to say it, I want my four months of back pay?

Nof. But is this the time to be talking about back pay? Don't you see that these two have fainted?

Cal. And what business is that of mine!

ETTORE and the others

Ett. (coming out) Must I still wait? (seeing the two who fainted) What kind of a place is this?

Nof. (to Ettore) For heaven's sake, sir, help me revive them!...

Ett. Are they sleeping?

Nof. No!

Ett. What then?

AMELIA and the others

Ame. (coming out) Have you forgotten...

Ett. (very surprised) What do I see? Amelia?

Ame. (very surprised) Ettore here?

Ett. What have you come here to do?

Ame. I'm not obliged to tell you my affairs.

Ett. Have you come here to find a husband? You fickle woman! Alright, I also came here to get married, but now I'm changing my purpose and I'm telling you that you must be mine at whatever cost! Even at the cost of killing everyone in this house!

Nof. Yes, we also need that! But instead of fighting with each other, help me with these two who seem to be dying!

Ett. (pays no attention and continues arguing with Amelia) Disgraceful woman!

Ame. You heartless prig!

Ett. Traitor!

Ame. Perjurer!

Nof. Good, go at it! Caloriu, bring the vinegar, you heartless man.

Cal. You're calling me heartless, that's the biggest lie!

Nof. Unkind boor!

Cal. Hopeless!

Ett. Perfidious!

Ame. Coward!

Nof. Slave!

Cal. Burn haystack!

Ett. Ingrate! (calming down a little)

Ame. Brute!

Nof. A man of the lowest strata who doesen't even have respect in the presence of two poor cadavers!

Cal. I want my four months of back pay!

Fil. (reviving) Ah!

Pan. (reviving) Ah!

Nof. Quiet, they're coming out of it!

Pan. Cousin Filippo!

Fil. What do you want, cousin Pantasilea?

Pan. What did you come here to do?

Fil. I was looking for a wife, and you?

Pan. I was looking for a husband!

Fil. Have you found him?

Pan. Yes!

Fil. Who is it?

Pan. It's you!

Fil. Am I the one?

Pan. Oh yes! Didn't you say those sweet words to me?

Nof. Uh, Miss Pantasilea is right! Signor don Filippu, this is the marriage for you! Where could you find a woman better than your cousin?

Fil. You're right, and I'm going to marry her!

Nof. Don Filippu, sit with Pantasilea! (to Ettore and Amelia) You two were engaged, you broke up over nothing but destiny brought you to my agency, that means you're destined to be husband and wife.

Ett. (pacified) What do you say, Amelia?

Ame. What do you say?

Ett. I'm in agreement!

Ame. And I am too.

Ett. So then, signor Nofrio, here's the two hundred lira that I promised you. (he hands over the paper money).

Fil. And here is my hundred lira (he hands over the folding money.)

Nof. Give me the money, so that I can throw it in the face of this low life of a servant! Here it is; take your four months of pay, and get out of my house.

Cal. (taking the money) You can rest assured that I'm leaving! (exits).

Nof. And now my friends, if you'll do me the honor, I wish to invite you to a luncheon in my house: do you accept? All. Yes!

Nof. During the luncheon I wish to propose this toast:

At this table
I take part with the four of you,
While thoughts of love
Are deepening within you;
And since I was assisting
At these marriages,
I feel myself deserving
Of your applause!
-- THE END --

Translated by Joe Accardi and Art Dieli.
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Last updated 9/27/11