Count Almaviva has fallen in love with Rosina at first sight, and secretly brings her gifts and
serenades her. He pretends to be a student named Lindoro so that she is attracted to him
not only because of his nobility and wealth. On hearing the first notes, she falls in love with
his voice immediately (“Una voce poco fa”). However, Rosina is being closely watched by
her elderly guardian Bartolo. He is determined that no one else will marry his ward, because
he wants to wed Rosina himself, as she is young and beautiful and also has a very large dowry,
while he is chronically short of money. For this he enlists the help of his old friend, who
is also Rosina’s singing teacher, Basilio. Almaviva learns about this from his friend, the barber
Figaro, who, because he is employed by Bartolo, has access to his house. For a substantial
payment, Figaro develops an ingenious plan so that Almaviva can enter Bartolo’s house
and thus get close to Rosina. He is to disguise himself as a drunken soldier who insists on
being billeted there.
Rosina writes a secret letter to ‘Lindoro’. In conversation with Figaro, she hopes to find out
more about this amorous student. Bartolo becomes suspicious of Rosina and senses a competitor.
So, Basilio suggests a clever slander (“La calunnia”) to get rid of the rival.
Almaviva rather overplays his disguise as a drunken soldier, but Bartolo is too distracted
to notice and only tries to get rid of this troublemaker. Rosina arrives, along with Basilio
and the housekeeper, Berta, and she immediately recognising her ‘Lindoro’. The disguised
Count insists on being billeted at the house more and more vehemently. Bartolo proves to
him that he is exempt from billeting soldiers, but it does not help. The confused situation
escalates, loudly, the guard is alerted and insists on getting an explanation. At Bartolo’s
request, the officer on watch tries to arrest the ‘drunken soldier’. When the latter discreetly
identifies himself as Count Almaviva, he is immediately released. There is general astonishment.
Almaviva has a new plan: he disguises himself as ‘Don Alonso’, a music teacher. He pretends
to be a substitute for the supposedly sick Basilio, but Bartolo is suspicious of this story. So,
Almaviva, as ‘Alonso’, must improvise. He shows Bartolo the secret letter, which Rosina
has written to ‘Lindoro’, and claims that he has come specifically to warn Bartolo about
this unscrupulous fellow, who has dishonourable intentions towards Rosina. He claims he
knows this because he has received the letter from a lover of the Count. Bartolo is deceived
and zealous to intervene: “La calunnia” at its best!
So, the ‘music lesson’ can now take place, and Rosina immediately recognises her ‘Lindoro’.
The more the music making becomes intimate, the more Bartolo insists on decorum and
decency - and of singing his own song. Figaro arrives and, recognises the difficulties of the
situation, so he distracts Bartolo with a shave. ‘Lindoro’ tries to inform Rosina of an escape
plan, but, unexpectedly, a healthy Basilio appears. Is he not sick? A quick-witted Figaro
claims that Basilio still has a severe fever and is highly contagious. Together with Almaviva,
who secretly slips the irritated Basilio money, they manoeuver him out of the house.
But ‘Alonso’ and Rosina are careless. Bartolo overhears the two of them agreeing to meet
later. In a frenzy, he throws the phony singing teacher out of the house and decides to ‘get
the job done’ quickly. He appoints Basilio and a notary to draw up the marriage contract so
he can marry Rosina that evening. To win her over, he shows Rosina her own love letter to
‘Lindoro’. She believes that Lindoro has deceived her and that he only wants to woo her
on behalf of Count Almaviva. So, she accepts Bartolo’s marriage proposal.
When Almaviva arrives along with Figaro to collect Rosina for their escape together, she
initially refuses to go with them, until he reveals himself to be the Count and affirms his sincere
love for her. With the help of the notary appointed by Bartolo for his own wedding,
Almaviva marries Rosina, with Figaro and the bribed Basilio as witnesses. //