Il Turco in Italia, dramma buffo in two acts to a libretto by Felice Romani, was first produced at the Teatro alla Scala on 14th August 1814. The singers at the first performances were Filippo Galli (Selim), Francesca Maffei Festa (Fiorilla), Luigi Paccini (Geronio), Giovanni David (Narciso), Pietro Vasoli (Poeta, Prosdocimo), Adelaide Carpano (Zaida), Gaetano Pozzi (Albazar).
At an inn, Geronio learns from Prosdocimo that his wife plans to meet Selim there. Selim suggests that Geronio should sell Fiorilla to him, following the Turkish way of getting rid of no-longer-wanted wives. Indignantly, Geronio refuses, and the two men threaten one another. The two fair rivals, Fiorilla and Zaida, arrive at the inn and try to force Selim to choose between them. The Turk’s indecision offends Fiorilla whilst it upsets Zaida, who goes away. Prosdocimo, in the meantime, has heard that the Turk intends to carry Fiorilla off during a masked ball. The poet has already warned Zaida of this, and the gipsy plans to turn up at the appointed spot dressed as Fiorilla, and he now suggests that Geronio dress up as Selim to confuse Fiorilla and save her from being kidnapped. Narciso, who has overheard Prosdocimo, decides that he too will dress as a Turk and go to the ball, to look after Fiorilla. In the semi-darkness of the ballroom misunderstandings multiply: Fiorilla encounters Narciso, believing him to be Selim, and Selim meets Zaida, believing her to be Fiorilla. Geronio, the last to arrive, finding himself face-to-face with two Turks and two Fiorillas, loudly demands his wife and is taken for a madman. Later he accepts Prosdocimo’s suggestion that he pretend to divorce her, while Selim and Zaida decide to depart together. Fiorilla, in fact, receives a letter in which Geronio tells her that he does not want her as a wife any more, and he urges her to go back to her own family in Sorrento. Deserted by her friends, too, Fiorilla is desolate and gets ready to leave, penitent at last, and very humbly dressed. Following Prosdocimo’s advice, Geronio takes his wife back, and the newly reunited couple say goodbye to Zaida and Selim, who are about to sail away. Narciso, too, makes his peace with Geronio and Fiorilla, asking them to forgive him. Prosdocimo, satisfied with the way the plot has wound up, hopes that the audience, too, likes the happy ending.