The Light in the Piazza

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

The Light in the Piazza is a musical based on a 1960 novella by Elizabeth Spencer, with a book by Craig Lucas and music and lyrics by Adam Guettel. It ran on Broadway from 2005-2006 and was nominated for 11 Tony awards, winning 6 of them, including Best Leading Actress in a Musical. Shortly before closing, it was filmed as part of PBS' Live from the Lincoln Center series.

It's 1953 and Margaret Johnson and her daughter, Clara, are on vacation in Italy. On their first day in Florence, Clara's hat is blown off by a gust of wind and is caught by a young Italian man named Fabrizio Naccarelli. Clara and Fabrizio are instantly attracted to each other, but Margaret attempts to quell it. Fabrizio manages to turn up in all the places the Margaret and Clara are visiting, until Margaret's resolve is worn down. But as Fabrizio and Clara become more serious about each other, Margaret fears that a dark secret about Clara will be revealed.

Tropes used in The Light in the Piazza include:

Signora Naccarelli: *in a perfect American accent, speaking directly to the audience* I don't speak English, but I have to tell you what's going on.

    • Margaret to some extent, as well, though it's hard to tell to whether she is 'thinking aloud at the audience' or she's 'talking to the audience'. Her role is somewhat of the Narrator, so it's debatable.
  • Dark Reprise: "The Beauty is", first sung by Clara and reprised by Margaret.
  • Eloquent in My Native Tongue: Fabrizio, whose English is extremely broken, yet he's quite poetic when singing in his own language.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Will Schuester is a lovesick Italian?
  • "I Am" Song: "The Beauty is" for Clara
  • Innocent Innuendo: Fabrizio tries to tell Clara "your skin is like milk", but his English is so bad it keeps coming out as "your milk is..."
  • "I Want" Song: Also "The Beauty is", as well as "Il Mondo Era Vuoto" for Fabrizio
  • Meaningful Echo: First Fabrizio calls Clara 'la luce nella piazza' (the light in the piazza), later Clara calls Fabrizio 'the light in the piazza' and finally, Margaret calls Clara 'the light in the piazza' just before Clara and Fabrizio are married
  • Meaningful Name: Clara, meaning 'light'
  • Meet Cute: Clara's hat is blown off by a gust of wind and Fabrizio catches it.
  • Musicalis Interruptus: Fabrizio has one before before the Big Note in "Il Mondo Era Vuoto", but he finishes it up after.
  • Older Than She Looks: Clara
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Margaret thinks that Signor Naccarelli is calling off Clara and Fabrizio's marriage because he deduced from her handwriting that she was mentally retarded. Why he actually did was because he saw her write her age on the nuptial form as "26", far older than he will allow for his son, who is 20.
  • Parents Walk in At the Worst Time
  • Slap Slap Kiss: Franca and Giuseppe
  • Slow Motion Fall: Not seen, but described by Margaret while talking about Clara's accident with the pony as a child
  • Stalking Is Love: Fabrizio follows Clara to her hotel room after she loses her way through the city's streets at night. Coitus Ensues.
  • Translation Convention: Completely averted, all the Italian characters speak and sing in Italian unless they are communicating with an English character. No help is provided to the audience during these scenes (aside from a brief fourth wall breaker) and, for those who don't speak Italian, the meaning of the scene must be guessed at through context, body language and what words can be picked out.
    • One production even applied this to the opening announcement, having it all be in Italian but only translating the words "cellphones", "flash photography", and "emergency exits" into English.
  • Younger Than She Looks: Clara, in more ways than one.