Santuzza nervously approaches Turiddu's mother, Mamma Lucia, as she opens her wine shop, and asks where Turiddu is. When Mamma Lucia answers that Turiddu has gone to Francofonte to buy wine, Santuzza replies that this cannot be so, as he has been seen in the village. Mamma Lucia is agitated at this news, as Turiddu has not been home. When Alfio appears and confirms that Turiddu has been seen hear his home early in the morning, Santuzza prevents Mamma Lucia from questioning him further.
The villagers gather in the square and sing an Easter hymn before going into church.
Santuzza tells Mamma Lucia the story of her affair with Turiddu. Before leaving for military service he had been in love with Lola, but, returning to find her married to Alfio, he had consoled himself with Santuzza. Lola, piqued by Turiddu's desertion, had wanted him back, and he had returned to his first love, abandoning the dishonored Santuzza, who wants to beg him to take pity on her. Mamma Lucia, murmuring a prayer for Santuzza, goes into church and Santuzza waits for Turiddu. He accuses her of spying on him and complains that her jealousy is driving him mad.
Lola appears and after taunting Santuzza, goes into church. Turiddu prepares to follow her and Santuzza, her pleading changed into anger, screams a curse at him. Alfio appears, and still possessed by jealous rage, she tells him of Turiddu's affair with Lola, and he swears vengeance.
The villagers stop at Mamma Lucia's for a glass of wine on the way home from church. Turiddu offers Alfio a glass, but he answers that it would poison him - an insult which must lead to a duel. As the crowd disperses, Turiddu, now sober, calls to his mother who had been inside and unaware of what had happened, bids her farewell and entrusts Santuzza to her care.
He rushes out and soon afterwards there is a cry - Turiddu has been killed.