Carlo Osvaldo Goldoni (1707 – 1793) was a celebrated Venetian playwright and librettist, whom critics today rank among the European theatre's greatest authors. His works, along with those of the modernist Luigi Pirandello, include some of Italy's most famous and best-loved plays. Audiences have admired the plays of Goldoni for their ingenious mix of wit and honesty. His plays offered his contemporaries images of themselves, often dramatizing the lives, values, and conflicts of the emerging middle classes. Though he wrote in French and Italian, his plays make rich use of the Venetian language, regional vernacular, and colloquialisms. Goldoni also wrote under the pen name and title "Polisseno Fegeio, Pastor Arcade," which he claimed in his memoirs the "Arcadians of Rome" bestowed on him. Goldoni was born in Venice in 1707, the son of Margherita and Giulio Goldoni. In his memoirs, Goldoni describes his father as a physician, and claims that he was introduced to theatre by his grandfather Carlo Alessandro. In reality, it seems that Giulio was an apothecary; as for the grandfather, he had died four years before Carlo's birth. In any case, Goldoni was deeply interested in theatre since his earliest years, and all attempts to direct his activity into other channels were of no avail: his toys were puppets, and his books, plays. His father placed him under the care of the philosopher Caldini at Rimini but the youth soon ran away with a company of strolling players and returned to Venice. In 1723 his father matriculated him into the stern Collegio Ghislieri in Pavia, which imposed the tonsure and monastic habits on its students. However, he relates in his Memoirs that a considerable part of his time was spent in reading Greek and Latin comedies. He had already begun writing at this time; and, in his third year, he composed a libellous poem (Il colosso) in which he ridiculed the daughters of certain Pavian families. As a result of that incident (and/or of a visit paid with some schoolmates to a local brothel) he was expelled from the school and had to leave the city (1725). He studied law at Udine, and eventually took his degree at Modena. He was employed as law clerk at Chioggia and Feltre, after which he returned to his native city and began practicing. Educated as a lawyer, and holding lucrative positions as secretary and councillor, he seemed, indeed, at one time to have settled down to the practice of law, but following an unexpected summons to Venice, after an absence of several years, he changed his career, and thenceforth he devoted himself to writing plays and managing theatres. His father died in 1731. In 1732, to avoid an unwanted marriage, he left the town for Milan and then for Verona, where the theatre manager Giuseppe Imer helped him on his way to becoming a comical poet as well as introducing him to his future wife, Nicoletta Conio. Goldoni returned with her to Venice, where he stayed until 1743. He entered the Italian theatre scene with a tragedy, Amalasunta, produced at Milan. The play was a critical and financial failure. Submitting it to Count Prata, director of the opera, he was told that his piece "was composed with due regard to the rules of Aristotle and Horace, but not according to those laid down for the Italian drama." "In France", continued the count, "you can try to please the public, but here in Italy it is the actors and actresses whom you must consult, as well as the composer of the music and the stage decorators. Everything must be done according to a certain form which I will explain to you." Goldoni thanked his critic, went back to his inn and ordered a fire, into which he threw the manuscript of his Amalasunta. His next play, Belisario, written in 1734, was more successful, though of its success he afterward professed himself ashamed. During this period he also wrote librettos for opera seria and served for a time as literary director of the San Giovanni Grisostomo, Venice's most distinguished opera house. He wrote other tragedies for a time, but he was not long in discovering that his bent was for comedy. He had come to realize that the Italian stage needed reforming; adopting Molière as his model, he went to work in earnest and in 1738 produced his first real comedy, L'uomo di mondo ("The Man of the World"). During his many wanderings and adventures in Italy, he was constantly at work and when, at Livorno, he became acquainted with the manager Medebac, he determined to pursue the profession of playwriting in order to make a living. He was employed by Medebac to write plays for his theater in Venice. He worked for other managers and produced during his stay in that city some of his most characteristic works. He also wrote Momolo Cortesan in 1738. By 1743, he had perfected his hybrid style of playwriting (combining the model of Molière with the strengths of Commedia dell'arte and his own wit and sincerity). This style was typified in La Donna di garbo, the first Italian comedy of its kind. After 1748, Goldoni collaborated with the composer Baldassare Galuppi, making significant contributions to the new form of 'opera buffa'. Galuppi composed the score for more than twenty of Goldoni's librettos. As with his comedies, Goldoni's opera buffa integrate elements of the Commedia dell'arte with recognisable local and middle-class realities. His operatic works include two of the most successful musical comedies of the eighteenth century, Il filosofo di campagna (The Country Philosopher), set by Galuppi (1752) and La buona figliuola (The Good Girl), set by Niccolò Piccinni (1760). In 1757, he engaged in a bitter dispute with playwright Carlo Gozzi, which left him utterly disgusted with the tastes of his countrymen; so much so that in 1761 he moved to Paris, where he received a position at court and was put in charge of the Theatre Italien. He spent the rest of his life in France, composing most of his plays in French and writing his memoirs in that language. Among the plays which he wrote in French, the most successful was Le Bourru bienfaisant, produced on the occasion of the marriage of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in 1771. He enjoyed considerable popularity in France; when he retired to Versailles, the King gave him a pension. He lost this pension after the French Revolution. The Convention eventually voted to restore his pension the day after his death. It was restored to his widow, at the pleading of the poet André Chénier; "She is old", he urged, "she is seventy-six, and her husband has left her no heritage save his illustrious name, his virtues and his poverty."