he story is set in southern Italy and recounts the tragedy of Canio, the lead clown (or pagliaccio in Italian) in a commedia dell'arte troupe, his wife Nedda, and her lover, Silvio. When Nedda spurns the advances of Tonio, another player in the troupe, he tells Canio about Nedda's betrayal. In a jealous rage Canio murders both Nedda and Silvio. Although Leoncavallo's opera was originally set in the late 1860's, Zeffirelli's production is updated to the period between World War I and World War II.

Overview from themoviedb.org