Composers and their stage works 

The Painter of His Own Dishonour

(El pintor de su deshonra)


Pedro Calderón de la Barca

Comedia de pundonor wr. ca. 1648/50

Don Juan Roca of Barcelona, a gifted painter, has married his much younger cousin Serafina, whom he loves passionately. Serafina, however, does not love him and has married him only after the reported death of Don Alvaro, to whom she had been secretly engaged. The couple visit the Governor of Naples, Alvaro's father, whose daughter Porcia is Serafina's best friend. Serafina confides that she is unhappy and unable to forget Alvaro. Alvaro suddenly appears with the Prince of Ursino, by whom he has been rescued from a shipwreck. Though still in love with him, Serafina is determined not to dishonour her marriage. However, her tears and confused emotions mislead Alvaro into thinking there is still hope for him. The Prince of Ursino, Porcia's suitor, catches a glimpse of Serafina and falls in love.

Serafina returns home, resigned to being Juan' s faithful wife. When he is briefly absent from the house, Alvaro enters but meets Serafin's determined resistance. Juan returns unexpectedly, and Alvaro narrowly escapes. At a carnival party Alvaro, in disguise, dances with Serafina, and she again rejects him. Fire breaks out, and in the confusion Alvaro abducts Serafina and makes her a prisoner at his father's country estate. There the Prince of Ursino accidentally meets her. Still attracted to her, he commissions a painter whose works he has been buying to hide in the bushes and paint her portrait. The artist is Juan. From his hiding place he recognises his wife, and as Alvaro woos her, Juan shoots both of them. He offers the sight of bloody corpses as the "painting of his own dishonour," and the fathers of the slain couple can find no fault with a man "who defends his honour."