Il Barbiere di Siviglia
BY GIOACHINO ROSSINI
LIBRETTO BY CEARE STERBINI FROM THE HOMONYMOUS COMEDY BY PIERRE-AUGUSTIN CARON DE BEAUMARCHAIS.
Teatro Argentina, Rome, 20 February 1816
ACT I – Outside Dr. Bartolo’s House
The one where Figaro’s here, Figaro’s there, Figaro’s helping Count Almaviva to abduct Rosina from her nasty old guardian Doctor Bartolo.
Night at the Opera
Count Almaviva arrives, in disguise, to the house of the elderly Dr. Bartolo to serenade his young ward, Rosina. Dr. Bartolo intends to marry Rosina, and he’s confined her to his house.
Figaro, the local barber, has access to the homes of Seville’s elite. He knows the town’s secrets and scandals. He arrives at Dr. Bartolo’s home and pledges his help to Count Almaviva, who takes on the persona of “Lindoro,” a poor student who hopes young Rosina will love him not because he’s a nobleman, but for himself. To enter Bartolo’s house, Figaro devises a plan: The Count will disguise himself as a drunken soldier with orders to be quartered at Dr. Bartolo’s. Then, he can declare his love for Rosina.
Alone in the house, Rosina reflects on the voice that has enchanted her and resolves to use her considerable charm to meet “Lindoro.” Dr. Bartolo enters with Rosina’s music master, Don Basilio, who warns him that Count Almaviva (Rosina’s admirer) has been seen in Seville. Dr. Bartolo decides to marry Rosina immediately – before any other suitor can have her. Figaro overhears this, warns Rosina and promises to deliver a letter from her to “Lindoro.”
Disguised as a drunken soldier, Almaviva passes Rosina a note, which she manages to hide from Dr. Bartolo, who argues that he has exemption from housing soldiers. An argument ensues between the Count and Dr. Bartolo.
Figaro enters and announces that a curious crowd has gathered in the street. The city guards burst in to arrest the drunk and disorderly soldier. The Count quietly reveals his true identity to the captain of the guards. He’s released, to Dr. Bartolo’s chagrin and everyone’s amazement.
ACT II – Inside Dr. Bartolo’s House
Dr. Bartolo, alone in his study, suspects the “drunken soldier” was a spy. The Count returns, this time disguised as Don Alonso, a music teacher and student of Don Basilio. He says he’s come to give Rosina her music lesson instead of Basilio, who’s at home sick. “Don Alonso” tells Dr. Bartolo he’s staying at the same inn as Almaviva and has found Rosina’s letter. He offers to tell Rosina it was given to him by another woman, proving Lindoro is toying with her. This convinces Dr. Bartolo that “Don Alonso” is a true student of Don Basilio, and he allows him to give Rosina her music lesson.
Figaro arrives to give Dr. Bartolo his shave and manages to snatch the key that opens the balcony shutters. The shaving is about to begin when Don Basilio shows up looking perfectly healthy. To get the meddlesome Basilio out of the way, Figaro convinces him he has scarlet fever and should go to bed at once. With Basilio out of the way, the shaving begins and distracts Dr. Bartolo from hearing Almaviva plotting with Rosina to elope that night. But, Dr. Bartolo hears the phrase “my disguise” and realizes he’s been tricked again.
Later that evening, Basilio is summoned by Dr. Bartolo and is told to bring a notary so Rosina and Bartolo can be married. Dr. Bartolo then shows Rosina her letter to Lindoro as proof that Lindoro is tricking her. Convinced she’s been deceived, she agrees to marry Dr. Bartolo and tells him of the plan to elope with Lindoro.
After a thunderstorm, Figaro and the Count climb over the wall into Bartolo’s house. Rosina is furious with them, until Almaviva reveals his identity and professes his love for her. Basilio arrives with the notary.
Bribing and threatening him, Basilio agrees to be a witness to the marriage of Rosina and Count Almaviva. Dr. Bartolo arrives with soldiers, but it’s too late. Count Almaviva explains to Dr. Bartolo that it’s useless to protest, and Dr. Bartolo accepts he has been beaten. Figaro, Rosina and the Count celebrate their good fortune.