The curtain rises on the prosperous town of Canyon, and the audience is introduced to Giovanni di Bujak, a lawyer who boasts of his prosperity ("Io sono un uomo ricco"). His aria is cut short when a messenger brings news that the banks have failed. A panicked crowd rushes the bank and bewails their lost assets ("La mia casa è andata").
Giovanni returns home to his wife Pepe, who compares him to her new automobile ("Ah, mia Escalade è delizioso"). Their reveries are interrupted by a stream of Giovanni's clients, who cannot pay him ("Mi merito un avvocato libero"). As the clients leave, they are followed by a man from Revenue Interno, who warns Giovanni and Pepe that they have fallen behind on their taxes. He will return in six months if the bill is not paid, and take everything they own ("Si lavora per nessuno, ma me").
Giovanni and Pepe are stunned by the news ("Mie scarpe! Miei vestiti! Mia Mercedes!"). But Giovanni has a plan: the office of Procuratore has recently become vacant. If he can become the new Procuratore, he can borrow some money from the public and repay it when fortunes improve. The two decide to go ahead with the plan, and contribute the last of their money to Giovanni's campaign ("Si ritornerà a noi triplice").
The curtain rises on Giovanni walking the streets of Canyon, proclaiming his candidacy ("Io sono duro su bande"). Meanwhile, Pepe sings of her fear that their poverty will be exposed ("Tutto nascondi"). Pepe is overheard by a local man, Roberto Enrico, who becomes suspicious.
Election Day arrives, and Giovanni becomes the Procuratore. He receives a triumphal coronation ("Io sono il ministro della jusice"). After the coronation, Giovanni embarks on a whirlwind of change, replacing all his staff, appearing frequently in the media ("Per il rilascio immediato solo"), and sneaking money out of the treasury ("E 'tutto lì nel contratto.")
Roberto Enrico relays his concerns to a former Procuratore, Michelizzi, who plan to expose Giovanni's fraud. As Giovanni and Pepe celebrate the return of their prosperity, Roberto and Michelizzi sing of their corruption ("Presto saremo fuori del debito / Ladro! Donnola!")
Revenue's deadline is fast approaching, and Pepe realizes that they cannot afford to repay the tax collector and the money owed from the treasury. Giovanni reassures her that their actions will not be discovered ("Nessuno deve sapere").
At the next meeting of the Commissari, Roberto and Michelizzi arrive and accuse Giovanni of theft. The Commissari panic ("Può essere vero?"), but Giovanni reassures them that he is prosperous and has no need for Canyon's money ("Fidati di me, io sono incorruttibile"). Roberto and Michelizzi are turned away, and after the meeting, Giovanni expresses his private fears that he will be discovered ("I proiettili sudore").
Giovanni returns home to find Pepe trying to balance the family budget. She urges him to come clean before things get worse ("Dobbiamo porre fine a questo inganno"). Giovanni refuses, stating that his plan has almost come to fruition ("Dimettersi? Nel nostro momento di trionfo?").The two pray for their deception to work. ("Noi li rimborsa e saremo perdonati").
The curtain rises on the office of the Procuratore, as Giovanni directs his employees ("Nostro ufficio è senza carta"). Suddenly, the Revenue Interno man arrives, flanked by Roberto, Michelizzi, and the Commissari. The agent, Roberto, and Michelizzi confront Giovanni with proof that he has stolen money from the treasury to pay his debts ("Ladro! Donnola! (reprise)"). As Giovanni issues denial after denial, more and more of the Commissari, and even Giovanni's staff, join into the reprise. As the complaints come to a head, Giovanni can no longer bear it and cries out his resignation ("Ah, io sono rovinato!")
Giovanni is led away to the stocks as Pepe mourns ("Siamo così stati vicini") and his staff frets about their fates ("Non c'è lavoro per gli avvocati").
Act Five has yet to be written. Will Michelizzi take the office of the Procuratore? Will Giovanni go to jail? Will he flee to Buenos Aires? Will Pepe denounce him? Will he fall upon his sword? Will he be dragged to hell like his namesake? We shall see…