By Ruggero Leoncavallo
At three o’clock in the afternoon, the commedia troupe enters the village to the villager’s cheer. Canio describes the night’s performance. He says the play will begin at “ventitreore.” This is an agricultural method of time-keeping, and means the play will begin an hour before sunset. As Nedda steps down from the cart, Tonio offers his hand, but Canio pushes him aside and helps her down himself. The villagers suggest drinking at the tavern. Canio and Beppe accept, but Tonio stays behind. The villagers tease Canio that Tonio is planning
an affair with Nedda. Canio warns everyone that while he may act the foolish husband in the play, in real life he will not tolerate other men making advances to Nedda. Shocked, a villager asks if Canio really suspects Nedda of infidelity. He says no, and sweetly kisses her on the forehead. As the church bells ring vespers, he and Beppe leave for the tavern, and Nedda is left alone.