Like ‘The Consul’ (1950), 'The Saint of Bleecker Street' is a full-length, serious work which features several characteristics of traditional opera. It is in three acts, has a large cast, including a chorus, and a large orchestra. The subject matter is very serious and touches on religious experiences, violence, and murder. Suggestions of incest also appear in the story, and there is no happy ending.
The Saint of Bleecker Street is set in contemporary New York City, in the Italian community in and around Bleecker Street. Menotti's libretto concerns the young Annina, who every Good Friday develops stigmata on her hands. Her possessive brother, Michele, fights to keep the miracle-hungry neighbors away from her and to prevent her from becoming a nun. When Michele's mistress, Desideria, accuses him of being in love with his sister, he stabs her in the back. Very ill, Annina take the nun's veil in a ceremony at her home and dies in the process.