Santuzza, having slept with Turiddu and suspecting that he has betrayed her with Lola, is distraught and approaches Lucia as she comes out of her house. Santuzza asks for Turiddu, and Lucia replies that he has gone to another town. Santuzza tells her that he was seen during the night in the village. Lucia asks her inside to talk, but just at that moment Alfio arrives on his wagon accompanied by the villagers. Alfio tells that he had seen Turiddu early that morning near his cottage.
Alfio leaves. Santuzza tells Lucia the story of her seduction by Turiddu and his affair with Lola. Lucia pities Santuzza, who is considered by the villagers to be excommunicated because of her seduction. Santuzza cannot enter the church, but begs Lucia to go inside and pray for her.
Turiddu arrives. Santuzza upbraids him for pretending to have gone away, when he was actually seeing Lola. Lola enters the square singing. She mocks Santuzza and goes inside the church. Turiddu turns to follow Lola, but Santuzza begs him to stay. Turiddu pushes her away. She clings to him. He loosens her hands, throws her to the ground, and enters the church. Alfio arrives looking for Lola. Santuzza tells him that his wife has betrayed him with Turiddu.
The villagers come out of the church. In a brief exchange of words, Alfio challenges Turiddu to a duel. Following Sicilian custom, the two men embrace, and Turiddu, in a token of acceptance, bites Alfio’s ear, drawing blood which signifies a fight to the death. Alfio leaves and Turiddu calls Lucia back. He tells her that he is going outside to get some air and asks that she be a kindly mother to Santuzza if he should not return:
Turiddu rushes out. The villagers start to crowd around, voices are heard in the distance...