Pippa is a factory girl. Today is a holiday. She thinks she'll spend it wandering past the houses of the happiest people in town and pretend that she's them. Only they're not happy. As she passes she sings songs and the songs impact decisively on the unhappy lives of the supposedly happy people.
So, High concept. A tad mechanical. Touching in parts. Some of the songs are lovely.
The setting is modern Italy- and the town of Asolo where Browning lived. Italian politics come into the picture. Also prostitution and adultery and ecclesiastical corruption. One of the characters is planning to assassinate an Austrian official and Browning (as a supporter of Italian independence) approves. This is racy material for a high-Victorian poem. Griffith had to tone it down. Idylls of the King it is not.
There's a very small town in Kentucky named after it.
Pippa Passes by Elizabeth Siddal (showing the incident in which Pippa meets three good-time girls who try to get her to go on the game.)