Rita, the somewhat tyrannical inn-owner and wife of Peppe is shocked by the return of her former husband Gasparo whom she had thought dead by drowning (he had run away to far-off lands). Gasparo is back to acquire Rita’s death certificate so he can remarry – because he, in turn, thought she had died. In the middle is poor Peppe who wants out, and perhaps Gasparo’s return provides the opportunity? The opera is a comedy of deceit and ill-manners (it was originally called The Beaten Husband which tells you something of Rita’s inclinations) but it glitters with Donizetti’s trademark vivacity, formed around eight core musical ‘numbers’ connected by spoken dialogue. The opera has, in the past few decades, become one of the most frequently performed of Donizetti’s short operas.