Le Nozze di Figaro
ACT I. A country estate near Seville, late 18th century. Figaro and Susanna, servants to the Count and Countess Almaviva, prepare for their wedding. Figaro becomes furious when his bride tells him that the Count has made advances toward her and vows to outwit his master (“Se vuol ballare”). The scheming Dr. Bartolo appears with his housekeeper, Marcellina, who wants Figaro to marry her as a way to cancel a debt he cannot pay. When she runs into Susanna, the two women trade insults. The page Cherubino enters; finding Susanna alone, he explains to her that he is in love with each and every woman in the house (“Non so più”). He hides when the Count shows up—angry because he had earlier caught Cherubino flirting with Barbarina, the gardener’s daughter. The Count again pursues Susanna, but hides when the music master, Basilio, approaches. When Basilio tells Susanna that Cherubino has a crush on the Countess the Count furiously steps forward and discovers the page in the room. Figaro returns with a group of peasants who praise the Count’s progressive reform in renouncing the traditional right of a nobleman to take the place of a manservant on his wedding night. The Count orders Cherubino to join his regiment in Seville and leaves Figaro to cheer up the unhappy adolescent (“Non più andrai”).
ACT II. The Countess laments that her husband no longer loves her as he once did (“Porgi, amor”). Encouraged by Figaro and Susanna, she agrees to set a trap for him: they will send Cherubino, disguised as Susanna, to a rendezvous with the Count. The page sings a song for the Countess (“Voi, che sapete”), then the women dress him in girls’ clothes (“Venite, inginocchiatevi”). When Susanna goes off to find a ribbon, the Count knocks on the door and is annoyed to find it locked. Cherubino hides in the closet. The Countess admits her husband, who, when he hears a noise, is skeptical of her story that Susanna is inside the closet. Taking his wife with him, he leaves to get tools to force the door. Meanwhile, Susanna, who has reentered unseen and observed everything, helps Cherubino escape through the window before taking his place in the closet. When the Count and Countess return, both are stunned to find Susanna in it. All seems well until the gardener Antonio appears, complaining that someone has jumped from the window, ruining his flowers. Figaro, who has rushed in to announce that everything is ready for the wedding, pretends that it was he who jumped. Bartolo, Marcellina, and Basilio storm in, waving a court summons for Figaro. Delighted, the Count declares the wedding postponed.
ACT III. Susanna leads on the Count with promises of a rendezvous. Excited at first, he grows doubtful when he spies her conspiring with Figaro. He vows revenge (“Vedrò, mentr’io sospiro”). The Countess recalls her past happiness (“Dove sono”). Marcellina demands that Figaro pay his debt or marry her, but noticing a birthmark on his arm she is astonished to discover that he is her long-lost son, fathered by Bartolo. The joyful parents call off their suit and agree to marry each other. Susanna and the Countess continue their conspiracy and compose a letter to the Count confirming the rendezvous with Susanna that evening in the garden (Duet: “Che soave zefiretto”). Peasant girls come to sing for the Countess, among them Barbarina and the disguised Cherubino. But in front of the Countess, the Count has no choice but to pardon Cherubino and proceed with Figaro and Susanna’s wedding. During the ceremony, the bride slips the letter, sealed with a hatpin, to the Count. The hatpin is to be returned as a sign of agreement. When the Count pricks his finger and drops the pin, Figaro quickly retrieves it.
ACT IV. In the garden, Barbarina, after unsuccessfully trying to find the lost hatpin, tells Figaro and Marcellina about the planned rendezvous between the Count and Susanna. Assuming his bride is unfaithful Figaro rages against all women (“Aprite un po’ quegl’occhi”). He leaves, missing Susanna and the Countess, who are dressed for their masquerade. Susanna sings a love song (“Deh! vieni, non tardar”). Figaro, hidden nearby, thinks she is speaking to the Count. Susanna conceals herself in time to see Cherubino declare his love to the Countess—until the Count chases him away to be alone with “Susanna.” Soon Figaro understands what is going on and, joining the fun, makes exaggerated advances toward Susanna in her disguise. The Count returns, finding Figaro with his wife, or so he thinks. Outraged, he calls everyone to witness his verdict. At that moment, the real Countess reveals her identity. Realizing the truth, the Count asks for his wife’s forgiveness. The couples are reunited, and so ends this mad day.