Comic opera in two acts by Gioachino Rossini. In Italian language with German surtitles.
Mustafa’s wife Elvira complains about her fate: she has been cast out by the Bey. The eunuchs, Zulma and Captain Haly vainly try to comfort her. Mustafa has become weary of Elvira and his harem ladies – he now desires an Italian woman – and Haly needs to obtain her at the cost of his life. Lindoro longs for a reunion with his beloved Isabella. But Mustafa wants to fulfill Lindoro’s desire to return to Italy only under the condition that he marries Elvira and takes her with him. He thus tries to make his own wife palatable to the embarrassingly touched Lindoro. Another ship has been captured; at first, Isabella, who is in search of Lindoro, is presented as a hostage. Although she complains about her lot, she hopes at the same time to make the best of the situation. Her companion Taddeo, who is in love with her, pretends to be Isabella’s uncle and affects jealousy during his first official act at Mustafa’s Court. In the meantime, Mustafa has learned of the beautiful hostage from Haly; he is wild to get a glimpse of Isabella. In the interim, Elvira and Lindoro have accepted their fate. The clever Isabella understands from the first moment how to wrap Mustafa around her finger; she thus saves Taddeo from death by impaling. Lindoro, who appears before the Bey together with Elvira and Zulma in order to take leave, recognizes Isabella. Suddenly, there is a great deal of confusion
Elvira unsuccessfully tries the European style in order to impress the Bey. But Mustafa wants to drink coffee alone with Isabella, and sends Elvira to inform her. Meanwhile, Lindoro and Isabella have decided to escape together. In order to stealthily procure Isabella’s favor, Mustafa appoints Taddeo as »Lord Kaimakan«. This is rather embarrassing to Taddeo, but he willingly accepts it in the face of the threat of being impaled. Mustafa does not succeed in having an undisturbed rendezvous with Isabella. Lindoro and Taddeo cast a watchful eye on them. To make matters even worse, Isabella even invites Elvira to coffee, which totally upsets the Bey. Lindoro informs the obtuse Taddeo of the escape plan and pacifies the irritated Bey: As a sign of her love, Isabella wants to appoint the Bey as a »pappataci«, an honor that involves a life consisting only of eating, drinking and sleeping. Mustafa is ecstatic and is happy to be included in the »guild«. All the Italian slaves on the property of the Bey are to be freed; naturally, they are happy to support Lindoro’s and Isabella’s plan. They are all looking forward to seeing their homeland Italy again; only Taddeo does not have the slightest idea of what is going on. Mustafa is appointed as pappataci and must swear to scrupulously obey all the rules of the »guild«. Whatever may happen, he must not let himself be distracted from eating and drinking. Lindoro and Isabella can now flee without being caught; Taddeo, who has finally figured it out, goes with them onto the ship. Mustafa recognizes too late that he had been fooled; he remorsefully returns to Elvira and wishes the clever Italians a good trip.