Outside Baptista’s House
Hortensio, a fop, Lucentio a student, and Gremio, an elderly roué, serenade the beautiful Bianca. Their love songs are brusquely interrupted by Katherina, Bianca’s older sister. Their father Baptista explains to the suitors that Katherina, as the elder of his two daughters, must marry first. Neighbours, awakened by the noise, chase the thwarted lovers away.
Petrucchio, a gentleman of more generosity than means, is stripped of his last penny by two ladies of the streets. Bianca’s three suitors suggest that he might be interested in the charms and the fortune of Katherina. He agrees.
Inside Baptista’s House
Bianca muses about her preferences among her three suitors; she is interrupted by a jealous outburst from Katherina who calls her a scheming flirt. This dispute is interrupted by the arrival of Petrucchio accompanied by Gremio, Lucentio and Hortensio, disguised as teachers of singing, dancing and music. Petrucchio is none too favourably received by Katherina. Alone with Bianca the suitors doff their disguises and continue their wooing in the form of lessons. Bianca soon recognizes Lucentio as the most desirable. Katherina reacts violently against Petrucchio’s protestations of passion, thinking that they are a false mockery, but something in his manner convinces her enough to agree to the marriage.
The neighbours, on their way to Katherina’s nuptials, treat the matter as a huge joke. The three suitors join them, now in high hopes that Bianca will soon be won.
The guests have arrived. Katherina is in her bridal array, but the bridegroom appears to have forgotten the day. When he does appear, in fantastic garb, Petrucchio misbehaves, illtreats the priest, and carries-off the bride before the wedding festivities have begun.
The journey to Petrucchio’s house
Petrucchio proceeds with his taming of Katherina by extinguishing the fire and finding fault with the food. Katherina spends a hard, cold, hungry night.
A masked and cloaked stranger appears to Hortensio and Gremio during the carnival. Both of them, believing her to be Bianca, are only too eager to take their marriage vows. Too late they discover that they have been duped and married the two ladies of the streets, suitably briefed, bribed, and disguised by Lucentio.
Katherina is still hungry and freezing. Although Petrucchio continues to tease Katherina, her weary resistance finally crumbles and she capitulates to her master; only to find that Petrucchio is a kinder, wittier husband than she has imagined.
The journey to Bianca’s wedding
Petrucchio indulges in a few more whims and fancies, but Katherina has learned her lesson, and joins in the fun.
Gremio and Hortensio have found out that the joys of marriage are a mixed blessing, and even Lucentio has reason to fear that Bianca is not the angel that she appeared to be. Katherina, on the other hand, and to everybody’s astonishment, turns out to be the truest, most obedient, most loving of wives. Which only goes to show that women are not always what they appear to be, or never judge a book by its cover.