The Barber of Seville synopsis

ACT ONE
Just before Dawn outside Dr Bartolo’s house. Almaviva is serenading Rosina, Dr Bartolo’s ward. The barber and general factotum Figaro appears. Almaviva enlists him to arrange a meeting between himself and Rosina. Rosina drops a note asking who the serenader is. Almaviva replies that he is Lindoro, a poor student, not wishing to disclose that he is a Count just yet. The plotters hide as Dr Bartolo appears to give strict orders to his servants that no-one is to be admitted except the music master Basilio. He hopes with Basilio’s aid to marry Rosina himself. Almaviva and Figaro finish their plan: troops are coming to the city and Almaviva must disguise himself as a dragoon and insist on being billeted in Bartolo’s house.
Inside Dr Bartolo’s house. Rosina reads a note from Lindoro. She runs from the room as Bartolo and Basilio enter. He discusses with Basilio his own plan to marry Rosina for her dowry. Basilio tells him that Count Almaviva has been seen in town and they immediately identify him as the unknown serenader. Basilio suggests they start some adverse rumour to blacken his name and force Rosina to reject him. Rosina returns with Figaro, who tells her of her guardian’s plan. She asks about the serenader: Figaro admits he is an excellent youth and will certainly meet her if she writes him a letter. Figaro leaves with the letter, which curiously enough she has already written and ready to hand. Bartolo enters suspiciously, enquiring about inky fingers and missing sheets of paper. The Count disguised as a drunken soldier knocks at the door. The Doctor indignantly refuses to billet him and goes off in search of a paper which exempts him from billeting. Almaviva manages to slip a note to Rosina. Quintet. Real soldiers summoned by Bartolo arrive and arrest the Count, but immediately release him when he reveals his identity to the officer.

ACT TWO
The same. Figaro has an alternate plan. Bartolo wonders whether the drunken soldier had been Almaviva. A stranger arrives, who says he is Don Alonso, a music teacher sent in place of Basilio who is ill. To allay Bartolo’s deepening suspicion he produces the note that Rosina had written to ’Lindoro’, and offers to make Rosina believe the Count is just toying with her affections. Bartolo is delighted at the suggestion. Rosina enters for her lesson. Figaro arrives to shave Bartolo, who gives him the keys so he can fetch some linen; Figaro abstracts the key to the balcony. The real music teacher Basilio appears but Don Alonso tells Bartolo to get rid of him so he can further his plan. Bartolo asks about his scarlet fever and Don Alonso, who is of course the Count, slips him a purse, so he leaves. The lovers plot elopement while Fogaro shaves Bartolo. Bartolo discovers the plot and chases the conspirators out. Playing his last card, Bartolo shows Rosina the note he had got from Don Alonso, saying that her devoted Lindoro is obviously planning to give her up to the Count. Infuriated, Rosina offers to marry Bartolo at once, reveals the plan to elope, and bids him have Lindoro and Figaro arrested. As soon as he has gone to fetch the police, the Count and Figaro enter via the stolen balcony key. Rosina reproaches them: the Count now reveals himself, and the lovers are soon embracing. Don Basilio returns in his office as notary and marriage broker to unite Rosina and Bartolo but is persuaded at pistol-point to marry Rosina to Almaviva instead. When Bartolo arrives with the police it is too late, for the marriage contract has been signed, and Rosina is now a Countess. The doctor decides to accept it all philosophically.

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