Don Magnifico lives in a dilapidated castle with his daughters Clorinda and Tisbe and his stepdaughter Angelina, who is forced to live like a servant – which is why she is known as Cinderella (Cenerentola). The Baron has used up their entire fortune and now pins his hopes on rich marriages for his daughters. Alidoro, the tutor and confidant to the Prince Don Ramiro, is looking for a suitable bride for his master. He arrives at Magnifico’s house disguised as a beggar and after the two sisters send him away heartlessly, Angelina takes pity on him. Courtiers announce that the Prince is planning to marry and wishes to invite all the young ladies in the land to his castle. This makes the two sisters very excited. Don Magnifico can see his dream coming true: he will become the Prince’s father-in-law. Ramiro, who has been warned about the circumstances inside Magnifico’s house by Alidoro, turns up wearing his servant Dandini’s clothes and is immediately fascinated by Angelina. In exchange, Dandini has disguised himself as the Prince and soon arrives to court Magnifico’s daughters and invite them to “his” ball. Angelina begs Don Magnifico to allow her to attend the ball too, but he rejects this harshly. Then Alidoro turns up, who is aware that there are three daughters living in the house. Magnifico declares that the third daughter is dead and hurries off to the ball with Clorinda and Tisbe. Alidoro comforts Angelina and promises to take her to the ball. At the castle Dandini, still dressed as the Prince, greets Don Magnifico and names him master of his cellars. He tells his master Don Ramiro how rude and vain the two sisters are. A lady in a veil is announced. When this stranger lifts her veil, everyone is amazed or shocked how closely she resembles the unfortunate Angelina.
Despite the uproar caused by the mysterious lady in a veil, Don Magnifico remains convinced that the Prince will choose one of his daughters. Don Ramiro tests Angelina by ordering Dandini to propose marriage to her while dressed as the Prince. However, Angelina rejects him because she has already given her heart to a servant. Before she leaves the castle, she gives Ramiro a bracelet. If he comes looking for her, he will be able to identify her by the identical bracelet that she herself is wearing. The Prince swears he will find her. Dandini reveals to Don Magnifico that he is a servant. The Baron is angry at this deception. Glumly Don Magnifico and his two daughters return home to find Angelina in her usual place. A heavy storm forces Don Ramiro and his servant Dandini to seek shelter at Magnifico’s house. Ramiro recognizes the bracelet Angelina is wearing and asks for her hand in marriage. In vain, Magnifico recommends his other daughters. Ramiro takes Angelina with him to his castle. She asks him to forgive her step-father and the two sisters. Everyone is touched by her generosity.