Lend Me a Tenor is set in September 1934. Saunders, the general manager of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company, is primed to welcome world-famous singer Tito Merelli, known as Il Stupendo, the greatest tenor of his generation, to appear for one night only as the star of the opera. Tito arrives late, and through a hilarious series of mishaps, he is given a double dose of tranquilizers and passes out. His pulse is so low that Saunders and his assistant Max believe he's dead — and in a frantic attempt to salvage the evening, Saunders persuades Max to get into Merelli's costume and fool the audience into thinking he's Il Stupendo. Max succeeds and lives up to his idol, but Merelli regains consciousness and gets into the identical costume, ready to perform. Now two opera singers are running around in the same costume and two women are running around in lingerie, each thinking she is with Il Stupendo.