Elma is a singer in a sleazy 1930s Berlin nightclub. She was the victim of an appalling assault during the First World War, and as a result, lost her memory.
A man appears and tells her that she is, in fact, the wife of an Italian aristocrat. A new life awaits her. But when she goes to Italy to pursue this dream, she finds unexpected problems and disappointments. Pirandello uses this story to explore the mysteries of identity and memory, themes that preoccupied him throughout his life.
Luigi Pirandello (1867 - 1936) wrote the play COME TU MI VUOI in 1930 for the celebrated Italian actress Marta Abba, who was his mistress. Pirandello's wife, Antoinetta, had suffered a severe nervous breakdown and was confined to a mental institution in 1919. This tragedy has echoes in the play, where one of the characters is a mute madman.
COME TU MI VUOI was translated into English as AS YOU DESIRE ME and was performed on Broadway in 1931 with Judith Anderson in the leading role. A film, very loosely based on the play, was made in 1932, with Greta Garbo, Erich von Stroheim and Melvyn Douglas. A production of the play in Paris was used as the background for Jacques Rivette's 2001 film VA SAVOIR.