In five scenes, Giuditta tells the story of the doomed love affair between Octavio, a captain in some army or other, and Giuditta, a beautiful woman with the brains of a gerbil.
Scene 1. We meet Giuditta’s husband, but don’t get too attached to him because you’ll never see him again after this scene. We also meet an irrelevant couple, Pierrino and Anita, who keep popping up to sing lighthearted love songs for no good reason. Octavio comes marching by, looks up, and sees Giuditta standing on a balcony. He says, “What a beautiful girl! I’m leaving for Africa in an hour. Come with me.” She says, “Sure, why not?”
Scene 2. In this scene, Pierrino and Anita ring the doorbell at Octavio and Giuditta’s house in North Africa, but Octavio and Giuditta don’t answer. This process takes quite a while. Finally Giuditta does answer the door, and the plot comes to a standstill while she deals with the irrelevant financial problems of Pierrino and Anita. Meanwhile, Antonio (a comrade from Octavio’s regiment) tells Ottavio that marching orders are expected.
Scene 3. Even though he’ll be back in a few weeks, Octavio can’t get up the nerve to tell Giuditta that he has to leave. He tells his friend Antonio that he’s afraid she’ll be unfaithful. Antonio says, “Come on, Octavio! Snap out of it!” (That’s a direct quote.) So finally Octavio does tell her. As you might expect, she gets hysterical, especially since he somehow manages to leave out what one would have thought was the vital information that he’ll be back in a few weeks. Her little gerbil brain concludes that, since he’s not willing to desert the army for her, he doesn’t love her, so she’ll go off and dance.
Scene 4. Giuditta has become a very popular dancer in a very popular dive in some big North African city. Oh, and Pierrino and Anita get back together, as if you cared about that. You probably hadn’t even noticed they were apart. Anyway, Giuditta is carousing with lords and dukes, and doesn’t even notice when Octavio, having deserted his regiment for her after all, comes back and stands around looking shocked.
Scene 5. It’s four years later. Octavio has become a cheap piano player in a fashionable restaurant. He complains that he still loves Giuditta, that he wants her back more than anything in the world. Just then, Giuditta of all people comes in and says, “I still love you. Take me back.” Octavio says, “No thanks.” So Giuditta is miserable and goes home heartbroken with her duke. Octavio goes back to complaining brokenheartedly about how he still loves Giuditta and wants her back more than anything in the world. The end.