The festival
Every year, in September, many people from the village and the surrounding areas attend the Festival of Our Lady of Good Remedy celebrated in the small church in Gallura. In the church square, near the woods, among the stalls selling nougats, sweets and all sorts of things, the rural festival is animated with songs, dances, poetry and skill contests. This event is long awaited to negotiate cattle, lands and weddings. The religious service called Missa Manna, is about to end. From inside the temple you can hear the last notes of the tàsgia, the traditional Gallurese choir.
Anghilesa Furitta, who mothers Anna, tells her that her lover, the singer-poet Cicciottu Jacòni, wants to meet her. The love between the two must be kept secret because Anna's father, Gjompaulu Filianu, has promised her to a rich shepherd, Battista Burédda, who everybody considers Anna's "official" fiancé. 
Pasca – a girl who sees Anna as an obstacle to her forced marriage with Burédda, her lover – eavesdrops the quiet dialogue between the two. 
The place chosen for the meeting is behind the big rocks called "Conche" [the Caves], and Anna goes there with her adoptive sister Matalena, who is quietly and painfully in love with Burédda.
The caves
Also Pasca goes to the Caves, the huge granite rocks among the cork and ilex trees. She is convinced that Anna will meet Burédda there, so, in the throes of jealousy, she waits to catch them to provoke a scandal. But Jacòni arrives instead, and he urges her beloved to rebel against the arranged marriage for convenience imposed by her father. Suddenly Filianu – who had escaped Matalena's surveillance – appears in front of the two lovers. Jacòni is not overpowered by the old man's anger: he asks for Anna's hand, claiming to be a man determined and of his word. Filianu can finally give vent to all the bitterness that he had been harboring for a long time: he will marry his daughter off to the poet if he kills his sworn enemy, Peppe Medonna. Jacòni interprets this dreadful proposal that will make him a murderer as the will of fate. But he demands for the "jura", a traditional oath which imposes the death of the person who breaks the promise. Filianu puts his scapular with the sacred images on the ground, kneels down and swears solemnly. Jacòni is grim and takes off his hat; then, frantic, he kisses Anna, takes his rifle and disappears in the woods.
The Spring
After a year spent in Corsica, Jacòni returns to Gallura. The poet convinces his fellow villagers that he spent time away doing business. Only Filianu knows that his staying in the French island is his alibi. A month after his departure, Jacòni crossed the Strait of Bonifacio at night and committed the murder ordered by Filianu – the killing of his enemy Peppe Medonna – and went back to Corsica. Now it is finally time to rejoin to Anna, according to the agreements with her father.
While the boy is freshening himself up in the fountain, Pasca arrives, devastated as the baby girl born from her relationship with Burédda has died. Even though she is talking nonsense, the poor girl tells Jacòni that her lover Burédda is getting married with Anna. Jacòni is struck by this revelation. At first, he tries to convince himself that those words are just the ravings of a crazy woman, but then he has to admit the obvious. In the meanwhile, Burédda passes by with a group of shepherds who are accompanying him to Filianu's stable to organize the pricunta, i.e. the marriage proposal according to the Gallurese ritual. With his heart in turmoil, seeing the events as a sign of fate, the poet accepts to sing the dancing song inspired by the fountain for the newlyweds.
The Ceremony of "Askink-In-Marriage"
At Gjompaulu Filianu's stable, the preparations for Anna and Burédda's engagement are in full swing, and the party will be attended by the most important members of the two families. According to tradition, the armed men are gathered around the closed stable. They are led by two singer-poets: Frési, the alligadori (alleger) who sings the bride's praise, and Fascióla, the omu di la pricunta (the man of the proposal), the groom's counselor. After the "poetry fight" and the presentation of the bride, it is time for the abbracciu, the official engagement. Those present form a circle and Jacòni starts to sing the dancing song that expresses all his anguish for his broken love. Matalena barely holds back her tears, while Anna cannot bear so much pain and she collapses in Anghilesa's arms. The women interpret this illness as a writing on the wall and they prepare a spell against the evil eye. In the general confusion, Jacòni takes the opportunity to sneak away from the stable. Suddenly, a shot of a firearm is heard; Jacòni runs back inside the stable and asks about Filianu. A group of shepherds show up from the woods, carrying Filianu's dead body. Before dying, the old man mumbled that divine retribution was carried out.
The "zidda"
A year has passed since Filianu's murder, which the locals interpreted as a revenge of Peppe Medonna's family. Anna has canceled the wedding with Burédda, who married Matalena instead. Locked in her house where the fire is burning in the zidda (the fireplace), the girl tormented by loneliness is caught between love and hate for Jacòni, as she considers him the murderer of her father. But Anghilesa is not overcome by the hatred for the poet, instead she sees his actions as a means of divine retribution. Encouraged by the woman, Jacòni asks Anna not to oppose to the fulfillment of destiny, which wants them to get married; and finally the girl indulges in his arms.
Other versions
Manuscript draft, 1954  
Plot from the staging of Cagliari 1959