A Sicilian village, c. 1890. Early on Easter morning, Turiddu sings about his former beloved, Lola. While Turiddu was stationed outside of Sicily she married another man, a wine carter named Alfio. As the town stirs, Santuzza, Turiddu's neglected sweetheart, comes looking for the handsome youth at the tavern of his mother, Lucia. The girl reveals she has been excommunicated, but before she can explain why, Alfio comes by with friends, boasting about his pretty young wife. A religious procession fills the square and enters the church for mass, leaving Santuzza to tell Mamma Lucia that Turiddu has taken up with Lola again. When the old woman has gone to mass, Santuzza confronts Turiddu with his betrayal. She offers to forgive him if he will come back to her, but it is obvious that Turiddu is madly in love with Lola. Lola passes by, and Turiddu follows her into church. Santuzza hurls a curse after him, then, consumed by jealousy, tells Alfio of Lola's infidelity. Santuzza immediately feels remorse, but Alfio is determined to seek revenge.
After Mass, the villagers leave the church and gather in the town square. Turiddu and Lol a are among them, unaware that Alfio has found out their secret. Alfio joins them and Turiddu cheerfully offers him wine, but Alfio refuses, saying that wine would poison him. With horror Turiddu and Lola realize he knows the truth. Sensing that a fight is about to break out the villagers withdraw, taking Lola with them. Turiddu admits his guilt to Alfio. The two Sicilians know that the affair can be settled in only one way, a duel. Alfio promises to wait for Turiddu behind the orchard. Alone with his mother, Turiddu bids her a tender farewell and implores her to take care of Santuzza in the event he should not return. Santuzza rushes in and throws her arms around Mamma Lucia. Shouting is heard in the distance. Soon women come rushing into the square with the news that Turiddu has been killed.
Compiled from Opera News and The Washington Opera