Turiddu is sorely disappointed as he returns from the army to his home village in Italy. Lola, his fiancé, has married Alfio. As revenge against her, Turiddu seduces Santuzza, but the jealous Lola soon tempts Turiddu to begin an affair with her.
Alfio hears about his wife’s unfaithfulness with Turiddu. Alfio swears vengeance and challenges Turiddu to a duel.
A group of villagers awaits in suspense for the outcome of the duel. Suddenly there’s a scream: Turiddu has been killed.
A company of touring actors arrives at an Italian village, where they have come to perform a comedy about a man and his unfaithful wife.
The head of the troupe, Canio, is jealous of his wife, Nedda. She is lusted after by Tonio, and her lover, Silvio.
The villagers arrive to watch the play. As Canio plays the role of Pagliaccio, he gets reality and theatre mixed up. It’s as if the performance were repeating his life. In his rage, he murders his wife and Silvio.
You can read the full synopsis and other background information in the programme booklet.