After returning home from a military campaign, Turiddu finds out that his fiancé, Lola, has married Alfio, a wealthy wine carter
. So Turiddu romances a young woman named Santuzza but when Lola learns of their relationship, she becomes jealous. Not long after, Turiddu and Lola begin an affair. After sleeping with Turiddu, Santuzza suspects he has been with another woman. On Easter morning, Santuzza goes out in search of Turiddu and stops by his mother's tavern. Lucia says she had sent Turiddu out of town to purchase wine from another village. Santuzza tells her about the the rumours she heard about Turiddu being seen walking in town the night before. Before Lucia can say anything, Alfio enters the store in search of the finest wine. Lucia tells him that they are out of wine, but Turiddu should arrive later that day with more wine from the nearby village. Puzzled, Alfio tells her that he saw Turiddu earlier that morning in town near his home. Just then, church bells ring nearby sounding the start of mass. As the villagers file into the church, Santuzza understands that Turiddu has been unfaithful and cheated on her with Lola. Since Santuzza cannot enter the church because she has been excommunicated due to her romance with Turiddu, she asks Lucia to pray for her. Meanwhile, Turiddu has returned home and Santuzza confronts him about his infidelity. He brushes her off after he spots Lola making her way into the church. Like a bunny lead by a carrot, he follows Lola into the church, leaving Santuzza behind. In a fit of rage, Santuzza spots Alfio and tells him about Turiddu and Lola's affair. After mass, Turiddu exits with Lola and he invites his friends for drinks at his mother's tavern. Alfio arrives and Turiddu offers him a drink but Alfio responds insulting him and then challenges him to a duel.
Turiddu accepts the challenge and hugs Alfio as per tradition. However, Turiddu bites off Alfio's ear, signalling a fight to the death. Alfio rushes out of the tavern and Turiddu is left alone. He calls out to Lucia, who runs in immediately. He begs her to take care of Santuzza as if she were her own daughter, and asks for one last kiss in case he does not return. Lucia, with tears in her eyes, watches Turiddu leave the shop. She paces outside anxiously as a crowd begins to gather. Santuzza, who has just learned of the duel, awaits for word of the duel's outcome in Lucia's embrace. Shouts are heard in the distance and the crowd stirs. Moments later, a woman cries out that Turiddu has been killed. Santuzza collapses despairingly to the ground as Lucia faints into the arms of the village women.
O Lola, c'hai di latti la cammisa, Turiddu's aria
Il cavallo scalpita, Alfio's aria
Voi lo sapete, o mamma, Santuzza's aria
Tu qui, Santuzza, duet between Santuzza and Turiddu
Viva il vino spumeggiante, Turiddu's arian