Outside Dr. Bartolo's house in Seville, late 18th century. Dawn.
Young Count Almaviva, a grandee of Spain, is in love with Rosina, ward of the cantankerous Dr. Bartolo. With the help of some local musicians, he serenades her outside her balcony window ("Ecco ridente"), but without success. Despairing, he dismisses the band, and when he pays them, they express their gratitude heartily -- and loudly. Just as he gets rid of them, he hears someone approaching and hides. It is Figaro, barber and factotum extraordinaire, who'll take on any job as long as he's well paid -- and he is ("Largo al factotum"). Having recognized Figaro, the Count emerges from hiding and lays his problem before him. The Count is in luck, for Figaro is frequently employed in Dr. Bartolo's house as barber, wigmaker, surgeon, pharmacist, herbalist, veterinarian -- in short, as jack-of-all-trades. They hide as Dr. Bartolo comes out of the house, instructing his servants to keep the door locked and chuckling to himself about his plan to marry Rosina that day. When he goes off, Figaro urges the Count to serenade Rosina again, this time in the guise of a poor student, "Lindoro." Now he gets a response, but Rosina is soon yanked away from the window by a servant. Figaro outlines a plan for the Count to get into the house disguised as a drunken soldier to be billeted in the house. Marveling at Figaro's creativity, the Count agrees and asks Figaro where his shop is. Figaro describes it, and the Count promises to bring him a purse of money. The act ends as the Count anticipates the joy of his love -- and Figaro the joy of money.
The music room in Dr. Bartolo's house. Morning the same day.
Rosina recalls the voice of her beloved ("Una voce poco fa") and writes him a letter, determined to win him over the machinations of her guardian -- for though she appears to be docile and obedient, she can set and spring her own traps. She has sent for Figaro; and just as he is about to tell her about "Lindoro," Bartolo arrives, forcing Figaro to hide. Bartolo is angrily looking for Figaro, who is apparently responsible for giving the servants sneezing fits with one of his powders. Rosina pretends that she hasn't seen Figaro and leaves, cursing Bartolo -- who now also blames Figaro for having turned Rosina against him.
Don Basilio, Rosina's music teacher, arrives. Bartolo needs his help in getting Rosina to marry him by the next day. He already knows that Count Almaviva is Rosina's secret lover (although she herself doesn't know his name), and when Basilio tells him that Almaviva is in town, Bartolo fears the worst. Basilio suggests slandering the Count ("La calunnia e un venticello"). But Bartolo doesn't want to wait for that to work; instead, the two go to Bartolo's study to draw up the marriage contract immediately. Figaro then comes out of hiding, having heard all this, and relays it to Rosina, who laughs heartily at the idea. He then tells her, coyly, about his cousin "Lindoro" and his love -- for Rosina. Rosina pretends to be surprised, but Figaro has her number. She is eager to see her lover, and Figaro suggests that she write him a letter. Rosina now feigns bashfulness, but when Figaro urges her to write, she pulls from her bosom the letter she has already written. As Figaro marvels at her precociousness -- and that of all women -- she delights in her love. As soon as Figaro leaves, Bartolo returns and questions her about a spot of ink on her finger, a missing piece of letter-paper, and an obviously used pen on the writing-desk. He dismisses her false explanations and pompously declaims that she can't fool him, threatening to lock her in her room ("A un dottor della mia sorte"). Rosina manages to slip away, with Bartolo in pursuit.
Bartolo's servant, Berta, enters grumbling about Rosina's behavior. But she is interrupted by a knock at the door. It is the Count, disguised as a drunken soldier, shouting and staggering in. Bartolo comes in to see what the rumpus is about. The Count drunkenly addresses him by a number of insulting variations on "Bartolo," then surreptitiously looks around for Rosina, who now enters. The Count whispers to her that he is "Lindoro." He tries to follow her out to his "quarters", but Bartolo claims an exemption from military quartering. He brandishes his stick, prompting the Count to challenge him to a duel, during which he drops a letter for Rosina. Bartolo demands to see it, but Rosina gives him a laundry list instead. Berta and Basilio enter as Rosina and Count triumph over Bartolo. When Rosina feigns a fit of weeping, the Count again threatens Bartolo, and everyone calls for help. Figaro answers the call, warning them that a crowd is gathering outside. As the Count and Bartolo renew their altercation, the police arrive. Everyone approaches the head officer to explain; he tries to arrest the Count, who shows him a document that causes the officer and his guard to suddenly salute. Everyone freezes in astonishment. Then confusion breaks out with Bartolo's protests and everyone winds up with a pounding headache.
The same room, later that day.
The Count arrives, this time disguised as "Don Alonso", a music-master sent to substitute for Basilio, who is supposedly ill ("Pace e gioia"). He tells Bartolo that he happens to be lodging at the same inn as the Count, and produces as proof Rosina's letter, which he proposes to show her, claiming that he found it in the hands of another woman. Bartolo is thrilled with the idea. He takes the letter and leads Rosina in. She recognizes "Lindoro" immediately. The couple sit at the harpsichord, and Rosina sings an aria ("Contro un cor"), working into it an appeal to her lover and insults to the unknowing Bartolo. Bartolo doesn't care much for the aria, and begins to sing his own aria, dedicated to Rosina, in the style of the castrato Caffariello. His dreadful performance is interrupted by Figaro, who has arrived to shave him. Bartolo doesn't want to be shaved, but Figaro pretends that he is insulted. Bartolo gives in, at first offering his keys to Figaro to get the towel, then thinking better of it and going himself. Figaro is disappointed, for he has a plan, and one of these keys opens the balcony door. Bartolo returns, not wanting to leave Rosina with Figaro, and gives Figaro the keys in order to get the basin. Bartolo whispers to "Don Alonso" that he suspects Figaro of complicity with the Count. A loud crash is heard, causing Bartolo to run off to see what has happened. Rosina and "Lindoro" exchange quick promises of love. Bartolo and Figaro return, Figaro explaining that the room was so dark he crashed into and broke all of Bartolo's china; he secretly hands the key to the Count.
As Bartolo settles in to be shaved, Basilio unexpectedly arrives. Basilio has no idea why his arrival has occasioned confusion, and is flabbergasted when the Count and Figaro "diagnose" him with scarlet fever. The Count slips him a purse to buy "medicine" and urges him to take to his bed ("Buona sera, mio signore"). Basilio, not inclined to ask questions about the windfall, at last takes himself off.
Figaro begins to shave Bartolo; meanwhile, "Lindoro" arranges to elope with Rosina at midnight. When Bartolo tries to look at them, Figaro distracts him by feigning a pain in his eye. But Bartolo manages to figure out at last that "Don Alonso" is an imposter, and flies into a rage as the others attempt to calm him. Finally, they flee the room. Berta enters, deploring the behavior of Rosina and Bartolo ("Il vecchiotto cerca moglie").
Bartolo returns with Basilio, who confirms that "Don Alonso" must be the Count. Bartolo sends Basilio to get a notary in order to finalize his marriage to Rosina. Then, calling for Rosina, he shows her the letter she had written to "Lindoro," and tells her that "Lindoro" loves another woman, and is plotting with Figaro to acquire her for Count Almaviva. Rosina, crushed, reveals the elopement plans to him. Bartolo vows to put a stop to it.
A violent storm comes up. Figaro and the Count climb in through the window to keep the midnight appointment with Rosina, but she repels "Lindoro," accusing him of betraying her love and trying to sell her to Count Almaviva. "Lindoro" is, of course, delighted to hear this, and reveals himself to be none other than the Count. As the lovers express their joy, Figaro congratulates himself on a job well done, but danger still lurks. He tries to hurry them away, but they are too absorbed in one another. Then Figaro, looking out the window, sees two people at the front door and raises the alarm. This gets their attention, but as the three try to sneak quietly out the window ("Zitti, zitti, piano, piano"), they discover that the ladder has been removed. They hide as Basilio enters with the Notary, calling for Don Bartolo.
Figaro boldly steps forward and tells the Notary to perform the wedding ceremony for Count Almaviva and Figaro's "niece." The Count silences Basilio's protests by first offering him a ring, and then, as Basilio hesitates, two bullets in the head. Basilio takes the ring. The lovers sign the contract, with Figaro and Basilio as witnesses. Their happiness is interrupted by the arrival of Bartolo with an officer, but the Count avoids arrest by revealing his identity. Bartolo at last bows to the inevitable as everyone celebrates the triumph of love
Original name: Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Libretto: Cesare Sterbini
based on Pierre Beaumarchais's French comedy "Le Barbier de Séville"
Stage director: Eugen Platon, People's Artist
Set designer: Veaceslav Ocunev
Costume designer: Irina Press, Master of Arts
World Premiere: 20 February, 1816, at Argentina Theatre, Rome (with title Almaviva or Unnecessary precaution).
Premiere in Chisinau: October 27, 1961, at The State Theatre of Opera and Ballet
Premiere of the last version: 3 october 1988, at the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet.
Running time: 2 hours 30 min (one interval)
Opera is presented in Italian
Subtitles in Romanian
The Barber of Seville
comic opera in two acts by Gioachino Rossini