The Venetian merchant Antonio is tormented by causeless grief. His friends, Salarino and Salanio, try to explain it by worrying about ships with goods or unhappy love. But Antonio rejects both explanations. In the company of Graziano and Lorenzo, a relative and closest friend of Antonio Bassanio appears. Salarino and Salanio leave. Balagur Graziano tries to amuse Antonio, when it fails, Graziano retires with Lorenzo. Alone with his friend Bassanio admits that, leading a carefree lifestyle, he remained completely without money and is forced again to ask Antonio for money to go to Belmont, the estate of Portia, a wealthy heiress, whose beauty and virtue he passionately falls in love with and in the success of his matchmaking which is sure. Antonio does not have any cash, but he offers a friend to find a loan for his, Antonio, name.
Meanwhile, in Belmonte, Portia complains to her maid Nerissa that, according to her father’s will, she can neither choose nor reject the groom herself. Her husband will be the one who guesses, choosing from three caskets – gold, silver and lead, in which is her portrait. Nerissa begins to list numerous suitors – Portia venomously ridicules everyone. Only about Bassanio, a scientist and a warrior who once visited her father, she remembers with tenderness.
In Venice, Bassanio asks the merchant Shylock to lend him three thousand ducats for three months under Antonio’s bail. Shylock knows that the state of the guarantor
The Prince of Morocco arrives at Portia’s house to choose one of the caskets. He gives, as the conditions of the test require, an oath: in case of failure, no more wed to any of the women.
In Venice, the servant of Shylock Lancelot Gobbo, constantly jokey, convinces himself to escape from the master. Having met his blind father, he plays it for a long time, then devotes to his intention to engage in servants to Bassanio, known for his generosity. Bassanio agrees to accept Lancelot for service. He also agrees to Graziano’s request to take him with him to Belmont. In the house of Shylock, Lancelot bids farewell to the daughter of the former owner, Jessica. They exchange jokes. Jessica is ashamed of her father. The lancelot undertakes secretly to transfer to beloved Jessica Lorenzo a letter with a plan of escape from the house. Dressed up as a page and taking with him the money and jewels of his father, Jessica runs off with Lorenzo with the help of his friends – Graziano and Salarino. Bassanio and Graziano hurry to sail with the fair wind in Belmont.
In Belmonte, Prince of Morocco chooses a gold box – a precious pearl, in his opinion, can not be encased in another frame – with the inscription: “With me you will get what many want.” But it is not a portrait of a beloved, but a skull and instructive verses. The prince is forced to retire.
In Venice, Salarino and Salanio amuse themselves over the fury of Shylock, who learned that his daughter had robbed him and fled with a Christian. “O my daughter, my ducats! Daughter / Escaped with a Christian! Disappeared / Christian ducats! Where is the court?” Shylock groans. At the same time, they discuss aloud that one of Antonio’s ships sank in the English Channel.
In Belmont is a new challenger – Prince of Aragon. He chooses a silver casket with the inscription: “With me you will get what you deserve.” In it, the image of stupid faces and mocking poems. The prince leaves. The servant reports the arrival of the young Venetian and the rich gifts sent to him. Nerissa hopes that this is Bassanio.
Salarino and Salanio discuss the new losses Antonio, the nobility and kindness of which both admire. When Shylock appears, they first scoff at his losses, then express confidence that if Antonio and the bill expire, the usurer will not demand his meat: what is it good for? In response, Shylock says: “He disgraced me, hindered my business, cooled my friends, inflamed my enemies, and what did he have for that reason?” “That I’m a Jew.” Does the Jew have no eyes? we are not bleeding? If we are poisoned – are we not dying? And if we are insulted – should not we revenge? You teach us abominations – I will fulfill it… “
Salarino and Salario are leaving. Appears Jew Tubal, whom Shylock sent in search of his daughter. But Tubal could not find her. He only retells rumors about Jessica’s cowardice. Shylock is horrified at the loss. Learning that the daughter exchanged a ring, donated by his late wife, to the monkey, Shylock sends Jessica a curse. The only thing that comforts him is rumors about Antonio’s losses, on which he is determined to put out his anger and sorrow.
In Belmonte Portia persuades Bassanio to hesitate with a choice, she is afraid to lose it in case of an error. Bassanio wants to immediately test fate. Sharing witty cues, young people confess each other in love. Make caskets. Bassanio rejects gold and silver – the exterior shine is deceptive. He chooses a lead casket with the inscription: “With me you will give everything, risking everything that you have” – in it a portrait of Portia and a poetic congratulation. Portia and Bassanio are preparing for the wedding, just like Neryssa and Graziano, who have fallen in love with each other. Portia hands the ring to the groom and takes an oath from him to keep it as a pledge of mutual love. The same gift does to the named Nerissa. Lorenzo and Jessica appear and the messenger who brought the letter from Antonio. The merchant reports that all his ships have perished, he is ruined, the bill to the moneylender is overdue, Shylock requires payment of a monstrous penalty. Antonio asks a friend not to blame himself for his misfortunes, but to come and see him before he dies. Portia insists that the groom immediately go to the aid of a friend, offering Shylock for his life any money. Bassanio and Graziano are sent to Venice.
In Venice, Shylock revels in the thought of revenge – because the law is on his side. Antonio understands that the law can not be violated, he is ready for inevitable death and dreams only of seeing Bassanio.
In Belmonte, Portia entrusts her estate to Lorenzo, and herself, along with the servant, retires allegedly to the monastery for prayer. In fact, she is going to Venice. She sends a servant to Bellario, who must supply her with papers and a man’s dress, to Padua to her cousin. Lancelot laughs at Jessica and accepts Christianity. Lorenzo, Jessica and Lancelot exchange joking remarks, seeking to outdo each other in wit.
Shylock enjoys his triumph in court. The calls of the Doge to charity, Bassanio’s proposal to pay double debt – nothing softens his cruelty. In response to reproaches, he refers to the law and, in turn, reproaches Christians for the fact that they have slavery. Doge asks to introduce Dr. Bellario, with whom he wants to consult before making a decision. Bassanio and Antonio are trying to cheer each other. Everyone is ready to sacrifice himself. Shylock sharpens the knife. The scribe enters. It’s disguised as Nerissa. In her letter, Bellario, referring to ill health, recommends a doji for the conduct of the process of his young, but unusually scholarly colleague – Dr. Balthasar from Rome. Doctor – this of course disguised Portia. She first tries to propitiate Shylock, but, having refused, admits that the law is on the side of the usurer. Shylock extols the wisdom of a young judge. Antonio says goodbye to a friend. Bassanio in despair. He is ready to sacrifice everything, even his beloved wife, if only it would save Antonio. Graziano is ready for the same. Shylock condemns the fragility of Christian marriages. He is ready to begin his abominable work. At the last moment, the “judge” stops him, reminding him that he must take only the meat of a merchant without shedding a drop of blood, in addition, exactly a pound – no more and no less. If these conditions are violated, a cruel punishment waits for him by law, Shylock agrees to pay a triple amount of debt – the judge refuses: in a bill of this no word, the Jew has already refused money before the court. Shylock agrees to pay only one debt – again a refusal. Little of, According to the Venetian laws for the attempt on the citizen of the republic, Shylock must give him half of his wealth, the second goes like a fine to the treasury, the life of the criminal depends on the mercy of the doge. Shylock refuses to ask for mercy. Still, he is saved by life, and the requisition is replaced by a fine. The magnanimous Antonio refuses to put his half on the condition that after the death of Shylock, she will be bequeathed by Lorenzo. However, Shylock must immediately accept Christianity and bequeath all his possessions to his daughter and son-in-law. Shylock desperately agrees. As a reward, imaginary judges lure out their fooled men’s rings. The magnanimous Antonio refuses to put his half on the condition that after the death of Shylock, she will be bequeathed by Lorenzo. However, Shylock must immediately accept Christianity and bequeath all his possessions to his daughter and son-in-law. Shylock desperately agrees. As a reward, imaginary judges lure out their fooled men’s rings. The magnanimous Antonio refuses to put his half on the condition that after the death of Shylock, she will be bequeathed by Lorenzo. However, Shylock must immediately accept Christianity and bequeath all his possessions to his daughter and son-in-law. Shylock desperately agrees. As a reward, imaginary judges lure out their fooled men’s rings.
Aunnoy night in Belmonte Lorenzo and Jessica, preparing for the return of the owners, order the musicians to play in the garden.
Portia, Nerissa, their husbands, Graziano, Antonio are converging in the night garden. After the exchange of courtesies, it turns out that young husbands have lost the donated rings. Wives insist that the pledges of their love were given to women, their husbands swear that it is not so, justify themselves with all their might – all in vain. Continuing the rally, the women promise to share the bed with the judge and his scribe, just to return their gifts. Then they say that this has already happened, and they show the rings. Husbands are horrified. Portia and Nerissa are recognized in the drawing. Portia hands Antonio a letter to her in which it is reported that all his ships are intact. Nerissa gives Lorenzo and Jessica an act by which Shylock denies them all their wealth. Everyone goes to the house to learn the details of the adventures of Portia and Nerissa.