In the hall of Don Magnifico's castle, Angelina, known as Cinderella, works while her two stepsisters, Clorinda and Tisbe, admire themselves. A beggar arrives at the door. The stepsisters spurn him, but Cinderella offers him food and drink. What no one knows is that the beggar is really Alidoro, Prince Ramiro's tutor, on a fact-finding mission for the prince, who is in the neighborhood looking for a bride.
Shortly thereafter, Prince Ramiro himself arrives, disguised as his own squire. He is impressed with Cinderella's beauty and tells the family that the Prince will arrive shortly to personally make an important announcement. Ramiro's squire Dandini enters, declaring himself to be the prince. Deceived by this reversal of roles, Don Magnifico presents Clorinda and Tisbe to Dandini, who tells them he will be hosting a ball in order to select a worthy bride. He invites all of the eligible young women in the house to his palace.
Privately, Don Magnifico tells Cinderella that he will not allow her to attend the ball. Later, when Don Magnifico and the stepsisters have left for the ball, Alidoro returns, still dressed as a beggar. He removes his disguise, provides the astonished Cinderella with a gown and a carriage, and takes her to the palace.
At the royal palace, Prince Ramiro and Dandini, still disguised as each other, entertain Don Magnifico. Don Magnifico feels certain that the Ramiro will select one of his daughters as his bride; Clorinda and Tisbe compete for his attention. The arrival of a beautiful woman-who bears an amazing resemblance to Cinderella-heightens everyone's anxiety.
Prince Ramiro is taken with this mysterious new arrival, and contemplates her similarity to the serving-girl he met earlier that day. He approaches Cinderella and she gives him a bracelet, promising that when he finds the girl wearing the matching bracelet, she will marry him if he chooses. She then leaves.
At Ramiro's instructions, Dandini explains to Don Magnifico that he is not, in fact, the prince, but the prince's squire. He throws the protesting Don Magnifico out of the palace.
Later, back at Don Magnifico's castle, Cinderella is tending to the fireplace when her stepsisters and Don Magnifico dejectedly return from the ball. As the prince searches for Cinderella, a fortuitous storm causes the prince's carriage to get stuck outside Magnifico's house. Ramiro and Dandini take shelter inside, and Ramiro immediately recognizes his beloved. Cinderella is surprised to learn that Ramiro, whom she believed to be a squire, is in fact the prince.
Prince Ramiro recognizes the bracelet that Cinderella is wearing and chooses her for his bride, denouncing Don Magnifico and the stepsisters for their ill treatment of her. Cinderella pleads for reconciliation, and all ends happily.