A Sicilian village on Easter Sunday
The people are gathering to celebrate Easter mass at church. The peasant girl Santuzza appears, tormented by jealous doubts that her fiancé Turiddu has been unfaithful to her and is once again seeing his former love, the coquette Lola who is now Alfio's wife. She asks Lucia, Turiddu's mother, where her fiancé is; Lucia responds that he has gone to the next village to fetch wine. Their conversation is interrupted by the boisterous appearance of the merry Alfio singing a passionate song. Alfio mentions in passing that he has just seen Turiddu near his own house, which heightens Santuzza's suspicions even more. She entrusts her fears to Lucia when Alfio departs. The girl's words reveal that Turiddu was once passionately in love with Lola and wished to marry her, but was forced to leave the village and enlist in the army; when he returned and found his darling already married to Alfio, he initially sank into melancholy, though gradually he developed a fondness for Santuzza and proposed to her; not knowing this, Lola employed every trick at hand to attract Turiddu once more. Lucia, devastated at such news, goes to church while Santuzza waits for Turiddu, determined to make him admit everything. Turiddu appears. Santuzza immediately begins to interrogate him jealously; he dissembles, gives evasive answers and lies. At the height of their argument, Lola appears and, singing a melody, flirts ironically with Turiddu. The women exchange caustic remarks. Lola goes off to church. The scene eventually confirms all of Santuzza's suspicions. She starts on her betrothed again and he, losing his self-control, pushes her aside and follows Lola to church. In utter despair, the girl resolves on revenge. Fate itself has decreed that she should meet Alfio, to whom she reveals his wife's unfaithfulness with Turiddu. Alfio's merriment becomes instantly transformed into an explosion of fiery wrath. Desperate for revenge, he and Santuzza leave together. Mass has by now ended. A group of men and women are gathered around the inn drinking wine. Turiddu and Lola are among them. There is a sense of joy and song and laughter. Alfio appears. Turiddu pours out some wine and offers Alfio a drink, which the latter rudely declines. The women, sensing a quarrel brewing, make themselves scarce. The rivals understand one another – a fight between them is now inevitable. According to Sicilian custom, they embrace, Turiddu moreover biting Alfio's ear. All depart. Turiddu calls on his mother and tells her that he is not himself and wishes to take a little walk. He asks her to bless him and that – should any disaster befall him – Santuzza not be left alone. Turiddu takes leave of his mother, kisses her and quickly departs. Lucia is shocked by her son's strange look and some curious presentiment of foreboding torments her. In alarm, she calls on Santuzza. In the distance, a great commotion can be heard, the voices coming closer and closer. Several women run in with the terrible news that Turiddu has been murdered. Santuzza and Lucia both collapse. All are shocked.