Act 1

The poet Prosdocimo is searching for a plot for a drama buffo. He meets a band of gypsies, including the beautiful but unhappy Zaida and her confidant, Albazar.

Geronio is looking for a fortune teller to advise him on his marital problems, but the gypsies tease him. Zaida tells Prosdocimo that she is from a Turkish harem. She and Selim, were in love, but jealous rivals accused her of infidelity and she had to flee for her life, accompanied by Albazar. Nevertheless she still loves only one man and that man is Selim. Prosdocimo knows that Selim will shortly be arriving in Italy.

Geronio’s capricious young wife Fiorilla enters, singing of the joys of free and unfettered love.
A Turkish ship arrives and the prince disembarks. It is Selim himself. Fiorilla is immediately attracted to the handsome Turk, and a romance rapidly develops. Narciso appears in her pursuit. He is an ineffectual admirer of Fiorilla, posing as a friend of her husband. Geronio follows, horrified to learn that Fiorilla is taking the Turk home to drink his coffee.

Fiorilla and Selim are flirting. Geronio enters timidly and Selim is initially impressed by his unexpected meekness, however Narciso noisily scolds Geronio. The domestic menage irritates Selim and he leaves after quietly arranging to meet Fiorilla again by his ship. Geronio tells Fiorilla he will not allow any more Turks – or Italians – in his house. She sweetly undermines his complaints, and then when he softens, threatens to punish him by enjoying herself even more wildly.

Selim is waiting for Fiorilla. Instead he meets Zaida. The former lovers are shocked and delighted, and declare once more their mutual love. Narciso reappears, followed by Fiorilla in disguise, with Geronio in pursuit. Selim confuses the veiled Fiorilla with Zaida and the two women come suddenly face to face. Fiorilla accuses Selim of betrayal. Zaida confronts Fiorilla. Geronio tells his wife to go home.

Act 2

Selim approaches Geronio amicably, offering to buy Fiorilla. That way Geronio can be rid of his problems and also make some money. Geronio refuses. Selim vows to steal her instead.

Prosdocimo tells Geronio, there is going to be a party.
Fiorilla mistakes Narciso for Selim and Narciso leads her away. Meanwhile Selim enters with Zaida, under the impression that she is Fiorilla. Geronio is in utter despair at finding two couples and two Fiorillas!
Narciso and Selim both entreat their partners to leave with them. Confused and angry, Geronio attempts to stop both couples. He is desperate because he still loves Fiorilla.

Prosdocimo advises Geronio to have his revenge on Fiorilla by pretending to divorce her and threatening to send her back to her family.
Selim and Zaida are about to set sail for Turkey, while Fiorilla is looking for a boat to take her back to her home town. Geronio finds and forgives her. They are affectionately reconciled. Both couples are now reunited and Prosdocimo is delighted with his happy ending.