A crime has happened. Carabinieri interrogate numerous witnesses of the bloody drama. Tonio testifies, saying that actors are endowed with the same feelings and passions as all people. These feelings and passions are the cause of many tragedies.

Act I

Description: In a small Italian town, preparations are underway for a "street" wedding. The main surprise at the festival will be an impromptu performance prepared by a small group of residents of the town. They are Canio, his wife Nedda, Tonio and Beppo. No one knows that the newly fiancé Silvio and Nedda have a secret love interest. Tonio, who plays the duped fool in the play, is unequivocally courting Nedda. Canio notices this and forcefully pushes him away from his wife. Tonio translates this into a general joke. The men invite Canio for a drink. He readily agrees, suggesting that Beppo and Tonio join them, but Tonio refuses. He harbored a grudge against the jealous Canio who offended him. And this jealousy is not unfounded. After a joke from one of the men that Tonio wants to be alone with Nedda, Canio, already tipsy, takes out his anger on Nedda in front of everyone. Finally, the bride and groom arrive. Even holding the hand of his future wife in his hand, Silvio does not take his eyes off Nedda. The wedding cortege leaves for the church. Nedda is left alone. Tired of Canio's drinking and cruelty, she seeks consolation in memories of her childhood - a time when there were no worries and nothing had to be decided. Tonio, who has crept up unnoticed, declares his love to Nedda, but in fact he wants to satisfy his lust. Nedda is aware of her attractiveness and provokes Tonio by laughing at him and flirting at the same time. When Tonio tries to take her by force, Nedda breaks out and tries to strangle him with a rope that comes to hand. In impotent rage, Tonio leaves, threatening cruel revenge. Ignoring the danger of being seen, Silvio appears. He invites Nedda to run away from the town. Nedda cannot agree to such an adventurous act. She understands that she owes a lot to Canio and cannot leave so easily, but, in the end, she agrees to Silvio's persuasion. The lovers do not notice that their frank conversation is heard by Tonio, who immediately disappears to inform Canio about his wife's infidelity. Already pretty drunk, Canio does not understand why he had to leave the tavern. But Tonio draws his attention to the male and female voices coming from behind the curtain on the impromptu stage. Suddenly, Canio realizes that the female voice is the voice of Nedda, and he intends to kill both traitors. However, Silvio manages to escape unnoticed. Canio demands that Nedda give the name of her lover, but she is silent. Then he rushes at her with a knife. Beppo arrives in time to forcefully restrain the enraged man. Meanwhile, Tonio finds a tie left by Silvio and reassures Canio, saying that the fugitive will definitely come to the performance and then give himself away with something. Canio is left alone with his tragedy.

Act II

Description: Late evening. The holiday is drawing to a close. Time to bring out the wedding cake and toss the bride's bouquet. Everything is ready for the start of the impromptu performance. Its plot is extremely reminiscent of the events that took place here up to this point. Taddeo (Tonio) is in love with Colombina (Nedda), who, however, prefers Harlequin (Beppo). A love date is interrupted by Pajac (Canio). Columbine's parting words to the harlequin shock Canio - these are the very words with which Nedda saw off her lover during the day. In Canio, resentment and jealousy flare up with renewed vigor. He no longer plays a role, he savagely demands that Nedda give the name of her lover. She pretends not to understand anything and continues to play the play, trying to turn the situation into a joke. The audience enthusiastically accepts the passionate "game" of Canio, but after a while everyone will understand that this is no longer a game. Furious with jealousy, Canio stabs Nedda to death. Dying, she calls Silvio for help. Everyone reveals their secret. Silvio rushes to Nedda, but the distraught Canio, not without the help of Tonio, kills him too. Beppo brings the carabinieri, but he is too late. "La commedia e finita".