Lola and Turiddu once were sweethearts, but when Turiddu went to do his military service she married the local carrier Alfio, who made good money with his horse and cart. When Turiddu found out on his return, he wanted to make Lola jealous by starting a casual affair with Santuzza, a more homely girl than Lola, but genuinely in love with him.
The old passion breaks out again, though, and embedded in the prelude Turiddu is heard serenading Lola before dawn as he leaves her house, where he has spent the night with her as Alfio is conveniently away on business (Siciliana: O Lola ch'hai di latti la cammisa).
Santuzza goes to see Turiddu's mother, Lucia, who keeps a tavern in the village. Lucia is under the impression that Turiddu has gone to a nearby town to fetch some wine and is startled to learn from Santuzza that her son was seen in the village that very morning. Alfio returns (Il cavallo scalpita), and he too hints that Turiddu was seen sneaking round his cottage. Mamma Lucia invites Santuzza into the house, but she refuses, saying that in her dishonoured state she cannot enter, and neither can she join the other villagers who are at this moment making their way to church for the Easter service. She pours out her frustration and grief to Turiddu's mother (Romanza: Voi lo sapete, o mamma).
Mamma Lucia leaves for the church and Turiddu saunters in, his night with Lola still in his thoughts, and he is most surprised and annoyed to find Santuzza there, very upset and in turn attacking him and pleading with him (Scena: Ti qui, Santuzza?). Turiddu is not a cad, but neither is he a gentleman - in a way he feels sorry for her, and sorry for what he has done to her. But he is so preoccupied with his secret passion for Lola that he gets more and more quarrelsome towards Santuzza. Suddenly, Lola appears on the scene (Stornello: Fior di giaggiolo), taunting Santuzza about not going to church - she well knows the reason why - and when she leaves, Turiddu would rather follow her, but Santuzza begs him to stay to talk things out (Duet: Ah, lo vedi, che hai tu detto?). He feels so tied down and angry that he finally knocks her to the ground to make his escape.
As he makes his way across the village square under Santuzza's curses Alfio appears, and Santuzza, not caring for now what effect her words will have, opens his eyes about Lola's illicit affair with Turiddu. Alfio flies into a rage and swears that he will avenge her, and himself (Duet: Oh! il Signore vi manda). Santuzza suddenly realizes what is going to happen, but it is too late to stop the inevitable - the code of honour requires Turiddu's blood to be shed.
After the church service, Turiddu invites all the villagers to a glass of wine. He is glowing, toasting Lola with a drinking song (Brindisi: Viva il vino spumeggiante). He offers some wine to Alfio, unaware that the man has found out about him and Lola. When the glass is refused in no uncertain terms he knows that he must accept Alfio's challenge, which he does according to the local custom by biting Alfio's ear as the two men embrace prior to the fight. Turiddu expresses his remorse to Alfio (Compar Alfio! Lo so che il torto e mio), and his sorrow about what will happen to Santuzza should he be killed, but he is ready to accept his fate. The villagers, who have witnessed this scene, disperse in expectant silence.
Rushing into the tavern, he asks his unsuspecting mother for her blessing and bids her to take care of Santuzza (Mamma, quel vino e generoso). Mamma Lucia is alarmed when he runs out towards the fields at the back of the village. Santuzza enters and throws her arms around Lucia's neck, as excited voices are heard from afar and a woman screams that Turiddu has been killed.
Dirijor – Veaceslav Cernuho-Volici
Original name: Cavalleria rusticana
Libretto: Giovanni Targioni -Tozzetti and Guido Menasci
Based on the short story with the same name by Giovanni Verga
Stage Director: Rodica Picireanu, Maestru în Artă
Set Designer: Iurie Matei, Artist al Poporului
Costume Designer: Alina Rotaru
Music Director: Veaceslav Cernuho-Volici
World Premiere: May 17, 1890, at Teatro Costanzi in Rome.
Premiere in Chisinau: October 26, 1980, at the Moldova State Theatre of Opera and Ballet.
Premiere of the version: February 23, 1992, at National Opera in Republic of Moldova.
Premiere of the current version: April 3, 2022, Maria Biesu National opera and Ballet Theatre
Running time: 1 hour 20 min
Opera is presented in Italian
Subtitles in Romanian
opera in one act by Pietro Mascagni