THE FIREBRAND OF FLORENCE A Musical in 2 Acts, 9 Scenes. Book by Edwin Justus Mayer and Ira Gershwin. Music by Kurt Weil. Lyrics by Ira Gershwin. Based on the play The Firebrand by Edwin Justus Mayer. All musical arrangements and orchestrations by Kurt Weill. Alvin Theatre, Broadway : Opened 22nd March, 1945; closed 28th April, 1945 (43 perfs) SYNOPSIS Benvenuto Cellini, the great Florentine artist, is sentenced to hang, but he is pardoned when the duke realises that he has not completed a previously commissioned sculpture. Freed, he is able to turn his attention to his favourite model (and object of his affections), Angela. The Duke also is interested in Angela. In a typical operetta plot, Cellini swashbuckles around the stage, keeping the Duke away from Angela, keeping himself away from the Duchess, and escaping yet another death sentence by fleeing to Paris, as the end of the show recapitulates the beginning. STORY Act I Florence, 1535. Sculptor Benvenuto Cellini has been sentenced to hang for the attempted murder of Count Maffio (“When the Bell of Doom is Clanging”). The people of Florence gather in the public square, gaily celebrating the hanging (“Come to Florence”). On the gallows, the unrepentant, rakish Cellini says it’s been a good life anyway (“Life, Love, and Laughter”). Suddenly Alessandro, Duke of Florence, pardons Cellini, because the statue of a nymph he commissioned from the sculptor has not been finished yet, though Alessandro has already paid for it. Walking away from the scaffold, Cellini is set upon by Maffio; this time he kills him (or so it seems). Back at Cellini’s workshop, his apprentice Ascanio and servant Emilia rejoice in the reprieve (“Our Master Is Free Again”), as Cellini presents an embellished version of his latest duel with Maffio (“I Had Just Been Pardoned”). He resumes work on the statue, but he has trouble concentrating because of his attraction to his model, Angela. Angela reciprocates the attraction but with reservations (“You’re Far Too Near Me”). The French ambassador enters, telling Cellini that the Duke intends to hang him for Maffio’s murder, and suggesting that he flee to Paris, where the king wants him to decorate Fontainebleau. But before Cellini can bolt, Duke Alessandro arrives (“Alessandro the Wise”) to ogle Angela. The Duke decides to carry off Angela to his summer palace, and he puts Cellini under house arrest (Finaletto). Cellini escapes his guards and hurries to the summer palace to rescue Angela. He accidentally encounters Alessandro’s wife, the Duchess of Florence (“Entrance of the Duchess”) on her way to Pisa. The Duchess makes no secret of her yen for Cellini, and she’s not interested in romance, just sex (“Sing Me Not a Ballad”). The two plan an assignation for later. Next Cellini encounters the Duke’s cousin, Ottaviano, who demands that he conspire to kill the Duke, but Cellini refuses, and Ascanio helps him escape. At the summer palace, the Duke exults in the opportunity to have his way with Angela (“While the Duchess is Away”). But Cellini has sneaked in, and he eavesdrops as the Duke makes his move. The Duke senses Cellini’s presence and is unnerved, and his attempt at seduction degenerates into spoonerisms (“The Nosy Cook”). Cellini emerges, and a commotion ensues during which Cellini escapes with Angela and the Duchess unexpectedly returns, to the Duke’s chagrin. The act concludes in a merry tarantella.