Synopsis: „Le nozze di Figaro“
In the palace of Count Almaviva and his wife, near Seville.
Act 1. Early morning.
It is Figaro and Susanna’s wedding day. Figaro, Count Almaviva’s personal valet, inspects the room in the comital palace which the Count has intended for him and his bride-to-be, Susanna, the Countess’s maid. While Figaro is thrilled by the room, Susanna has already suspected she knows the reason why this particular one has been chosen, ideally situated between the Count’s bedroom and the Countess’s wing of the palace. She informs Figaro that Almaviva, who has grown tired of his own wife, has selected this room for trouble-free access to her, Susanna. The Count has long pursued her and made it be known to her, via her counsel, Don Basilio, that even if he must pay for it, he will attempt to exercise his right to jus primae noctis, the feudal lord’s right to be the first to sleep with a subordinate woman.
Figaro quickly understands that he is in a race against time. The Count will try everything in his power to subjugate Susanna in the coming hours, even before the night’s planned wedding feast. Figaro does not ask, however, why Susanna has waited until tonight to give him this information.
Not only the Count stands between Figaro and Susanna, but also Marcellina, another employee in the comital palace. Her plan is not to postpone the marriage, but to prevent it completely, as she is attracted to Figaro. To compound his misfortune, Figaro owes Marcellina a great deal of money, and has promised to wed her should he fail to repay it by a certain day. That day is today. Dr Bartolo from Seville, her one-time employer, has arrived and promised to act as her lawyer in this case.
The Count’s page, Cherubino, has fallen victim to the Count’s temper, and been informed that he will be fired. Hoping for the advocacy of the Countess, he has sought Susanna, but the two are surprised by the entry of the Count, whose room has direct access to that of Figaro and Susanna. In the nick of time, Cherubino is able to hide. However, not even the Count and Susanna can remain undisturbed, as Don Basilio now enters, intending to speak to her. In the hope that Basilio will soon leave, the Count also hides himself in the room. Don Basilio wishes to discover whether the page, who often seems to be found near all the women in the palace, is looking after her or has gone to aid the Count.
The Count is meticulous in avoiding any allegations of adultery reaching his wife and comes out of hiding. For Susanna, so many men in her room at once is too much. As the Count then discovers Cherubino, he feels his honour has been damaged and makes bitter accusations of Susanna.
Before the situation can escalate, Figaro arrives with other palace employees to demand that the Count renounce his feudal right to jus primae noctis and place the virginal veil upon Susanna’s head. But the Count has already guessed why Figaro is in such a hurry, and informs him that he will carry out the ceremony, but only in the evening and with all due resplendence.
Figaro must accept defeat and can hardly conceal his aggression towards the Count. But the one who really suffers from this moment of tension is Cherubino, who now finds himself banished from the palace right away and sent to join the army.
Act 2. Midday.
Figaro tells the Countess and Susanna how he intends to stop the Count from seducing Susanna. One the one hand, the Count, whose vanity often leads him to suffer from jealousy, shall receive a fake letter inviting his wife to a rendezvous with her made-up secret lover while, on the other hand, he shall receive another letter inviting him to meet Susanna in the garden that evening. But instead of Susanna, Cherubino shall disguise himself as a woman in the garden. Before Cherubino was able to leave the palace, Figaro had stopped him and requested his help with this plot. His hope is now that the ensuing confusion will allow him his right to wed Susanna. The ladies, although not fully convinced, agree to follow his plans.
Figaro sends Cherubino to the ladies to prepare his disguise as a woman. As Cherubino stands alone for a moment with the Countess, both confused, the Count knocks upon the locked door of the Countess’s bedroom, whereupon Cherubino hides himself in her dressing room. Meanwhile, the Count has received the letter intended for his wife and wishes to speak to her. Upon hearing suspicious noises from the dressing room, he assumes that the Countess’s lover is hiding inside. When she refuses to open the door, he forces her to leave the room with him so that he may get some tools to force open the dressing room door. First, he blocks all the exits.
Susanna, who has observed the situation from her hiding place, lets Cherubino quickly escape. But because all the doors are locked, his only chance of getaway is to jump out of the window into the garden below. Susanna then enters the dressing room and awaits the return of the Count and Countess.
In the meantime, the Countess has confessed to her husband that it is Cherubino hiding in that room. The Count is apoplectic with rage, but, just like the Countess, stunned when it is Susanna and not Cherubino whom they find in the dressing room. Full of shame, the Count begs his wife for forgiveness.
She then confesses that she knew of Figaro’s scheme and the fake rendezvous invitation. As Antonio, the gardener, appears to say that he saw somebody jump from the window into the flower bed, Figaro arrives to aid the Countess and says that it was he himself whom the Count heard in the dressing room. The Count has no idea what to believe. Figaro and Susanna then capitalise on his confusion and ask for his official permission to wed.
Just as the Count appears ready to grant this request, Marcellina enters and tells of her legal complaint. Figaro must pay her the money back today that he earlier borrowed, otherwise he has to wed her today. The Count promptly arranges his trial for the afternoon.
Act 3. Late afternoon and evening.
The Countess finds it difficult to believe in Figaro’s latest plans after his first had backfired. She now pressures Susanna to personally invite the Count into the garden but, instead of Susanna, she herself will wear the bridal gown and await the philanderer in the garden.
Susanna delivers the invitation to the Count, and finds out that this shall not be just a quick conquest, but more. However, as the Count later sees the way in which Susanna disappears, whispering to Figaro, he no longer knows where he is. His desire for Susanna has made him take leave of his senses.
During the trial he has arranged himself, it unfolds that Figaro is a foundling, Marcellina is his mother, and her former employer, the lawyer Dr Bartolo, his father, resulting in not only he, but also Susanna, believing themselves to be in some strange dream.
The Countess quickens her plans and dictates Susanna a letter defining the exact meeting point in the garden.
Shortly before the officiaa wedding party begins, the Count discovers that Cherubino is still in the palace. Barbarina, Antonio’s daughter, has disguised him as a woman and now publicly claims that the Count has often visited her, ensuring an even more humiliating situation for the Countess.
The atmosphere can be cut with a knife as the wedding celebrations begin. Not only Figaro and Susanna are to wed, but also, just as spontaneous as late, Figaro’s parents, Bartolo and Marcellina.
The Count, no longer able to trust his own instincts, suddenly erupts with glee as he receives Susanna’s invitiation to a secret rendezvous that evening. Apparently, she will leave the wedding party early, not to fall into the arms of her groom, but those of the Count instead.
The party seems to be over before it has properly begun. There is something in the air. The night is still to come …
Act 4. Night.
Figaro has learned from Barbarina that Susanna and the Count are planning to meet each other in the night. He is shocked at the news, but his mother reminds him of the finality of pain and life.
Tonight’s accumulation of lies, deceit, jealousy, arrogance and pretence is too much for Figaro, and he now longs for the whole game to come to a close.
As the Count finally discovers that his rendezvous was not with Susanna, but his wife instead, his only wish is that the Countess forgive him. Because of her love for him, she does.
And everyone now tries to forget what has happened. Figaro’s world, turned completely upside down, now appears to be returning to normal.