Gondarino (gohn-dah-REE-noh), a widower, so disillusioned by his late wife’s infidelity that he despises all women. Plagued by Oriana’s teasing, he retaliates by accusing her of wantonness. When his lies are discovered, he is ordered to kiss a dozen ladies in waiting, a fate worse than death in his eyes.
Oriana (oh-ree-AH-nah), a merry, virtuous young noblewoman who makes a game of Gondarino’s well-known misogyny, succeeding only in strengthening his prejudices while she wins the love and admiration of the duke.
Count Valore (vah-LOH-reh), her brother. Bored with court life, he finds amusement in Lazarillo’s search for a feast and in tricking the intelligencers who prey on those around them. He remains loyal to Oriana and helps to prove Gondarino’s accusations false.
The duke of Milan
The duke of Milan, a young ruler who is attracted by Oriana’s beauty. He plans a test to prove or disprove Gondarino’s slander and rejoices at the vehemence with which Oriana refuses Arrigo’s staged advances. He claims her for his bride.
Lazarillo (lah-zah-REEL-loh), a gourmet who yearns only to feast on the head of the fish umbrana.
Julia, a prostitute whom he marries to achieve his wish.
Francissina (frahn-CHEES-see-nah), her colleague. She is married, through the wiles of the pander, to a well-to-do mercer.
A mercer, her naïve husband-to-be, who longs to be a scholar. Deceived when he takes the pander’s black robes as a mark of the academic profession, he accepts his irregular marriage philosophically.
A pander, a clever opportunist who sees two of his clients wed at considerable profit to himself.
Lucio (LEW-chee-oh) and
Arrigo (ahr-REE-goh), ambitious and rather corrupt officials of the duke’s court.