The play opens with the introduction of Beatrice, a woman who has traveled to Venice disguised as her dead brother in search of the man who killed him: her lover, Florindo. Her brother forbade her to marry Florindo, and died defending her honor. Beatrice disguises herself as him so that she can collect dowry money from Pantalone, the father of Clarice, her brother's betrothed. She wants to use this money to help her lover escape, and to allow them to finally wed. But thinking that Beatrice's brother was dead, Clarice has fallen in love with another man, Silvio, and the two have become engaged. Interested in keeping up appearances, Pantalone tries to conceal the existence of each from the other.
The characters from 'A Servant to Two Masters' are derived from "stock characters" used in Commedia Dell'Arte. True Commedia Dell'Arte is completely improvised - with no script, so "A Servant to Two Masters" is not true Commedia. The stock characters were used as guides for the actors improvising.