The Marriage of Figaro Synopsis
Figaro, servant to Count Almaviva, is about to marry Susanna, the Countess’s maid. He measures a room for a bed, but Susanna is concerned that the room is too close to the Count’s chamber. She explains to Figaro that Almaviva is pursuing her. Figaro vows to thwart the Count’s plans. Once Figaro leaves, Doctor Bartolo and Marcellina enter. Marcellina is angry at Susanna for stealing Figaro away from her, while Bartolo is angry at Figaro for making a fool of him in the past. Marcellina and Susanna are sarcastically polite with one another until Marcellina and Bartolo leave. Cherubino, a young page, enters, seeking advice from Susanna. Count Almaviva caught him alone with the gardener’s daughter, Barbarina, and he is now to be sent away. He is besotted by all women, he explains, and cannot help himself. Before Susanna can offer advice, they are interrupted by the arrival of Almaviva himself. Cherubino hides while Almaviva attempts to set up a tryst with Susanna. The Count himself is forced to hide when yet another voice is heard at the door. It’s Don Basilio, the music teacher, who references Cherubino’s supposed crush on the Countess. In a rage, the Count reveals himself to an amused Basilio. He states that he is sending Cherubino away, and relates the scene in the gardener’s daughter’s chambers. As he does, Almaviva discovers a hiding Cherubino. Almaviva is fuming, as Cherubino has overheard him propositioning Susanna. He vows to get rid of the lad by giving him a military commission. Figaro returns, accompanied by festive townspeople. He asks the Count to join him and Susanna in marriage. Almaviva stalls him.
In Countess Rosina’s chambers, the Countess grieves for the loss of her husband’s love and attention, and she and Susanna discuss Count Almaviva’s roving eye. The Countess believes her husband no longer loves her, while Susanna wants him to leave her alone. Susanna tells the Countess that she and Figaro have a plan: Almaviva will receive a letter from Basilio informing him that his wife has taken up a lover. At the same time, Susanna will set up a rendezvous with Almaviva, but will send a disguised Cherubino in her place. Cherubino enters with a song of love for the Countess and a commission letter that the Count forgot to seal, and is taken aback when the women begin to undress him. Having locked the door, they have time to hide Cherubino and Susanna when Almaviva unexpectedly arrives to speak with his wife about the letter from Basilio, written and planted by Figaro. Noticing the Countess’s agitation, Almaviva is instantly suspicious. He jealously demands entry into the locked inner room where Cherubino is hiding, but the Countess refuses to open it, claiming Susanna is inside trying on her wedding dress. Almaviva, taking the Countess with him, leaves the room to get a crowbar. After they leave, Susanna locks herself into the room and Cherubino exits the Countess’s chamber through the window. Unaware of the switch, the Countess confesses everything to her husband upon their return. She is shocked when Susanna exits the locked room. Almaviva begs forgiveness for his suspicions. Figaro arrives to gather up the group for the wedding. He is followed by Antonio, the gardener, who is upset that someone jumping from the Countess’s balcony has crushed his flowers. Upon prompting from the women, Figaro claims it was he who jumped. The gardener shows him Cherubino’s dropped commission, which Figaro claims he was holding it to get the Count’s seal. Marcellina, Bartolo and Basilio enter, and Almaviva, still suspicious, hears their claim that Figaro is obliged to marry Marcellina to pay off an outstanding debt.
Acting on her lady’s insistence, Susanna approaches Count Almaviva. He once again asks her to meet him in the garden. She agrees. On her way from the room, the Count overhears Susanna tell Figaro that his legal troubles will soon be over. He is furious at the apparent deception. Marcellina and Bartolo, their attorney Don Curzio in tow, confront Figaro, who tells them that being of noble birth – though stolen away by thieves as an infant – he can only marry with the consent of his family. To prove his tale he shows the crowd his birthmark. Immediately, Marcellina and Bartolo recognize the mark as belonging to their son, and the three joyfully reunite. Figaro embraces his long-lost mother as Susanna rejoins the crowd, having just secured the money to pay off his debt from the Countess. She misunderstands the embrace and rages at Figaro. Marcellina explains the situation, and everyone is happy. Everyone that is, except the Count, who is sure he’s still being played. As the group leaves, Susanna stays behind to speak to the Countess. The Countess dictates a letter from Susanna to the Count. She plans to surprise Almaviva in the garden herself. Figaro returns to gather everyone for the wedding. During the dancing, Susanna slips the Count her letter.
In the garden, Figaro meets the gardener’s daughter Barbarina, who Almaviva has entrusted to return the brooch Susanna pinned to the letter. Figaro assumes Susanna is cheating on him, and invites Bartolo and Don Basilio to join him for her public humiliation. As they leave, the Countess and Susanna appear, each dressed as the other. Cherubino is also in the garden meeting with Barbarina. He spies the Countess and, thinking she is Susanna, leans in to kiss her. Instead he kisses Almaviva, who swats Figaro. The Count declares his love for Susanna, who is really the Countess, while Figaro tells the Countess, who is really Susanna, about the tryst. Susanna forgets to disguise her voice, and Figaro figures out it is she under the Countess’s cloak. Their embrace is noticed by the Count, who is about to expose them when his wife takes off her own disguise. Almaviva is shamed and apologizes to his wife for both his jealousy and his infidelity. They all return to the celebration.
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