The Marriage of Figaro Synopsis


Opera Colorado’s production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro runs May 4–12, 2019.


Susanna, maid-servant to the Countess soprano
Countess Almaviva soprano
Marcellina, the housekeeper soprano
Barbarina, the gardener’s daughter soprano
Cherubino, pageboy to the Count mezzo soprano
Don Basilio, the music master tenor
Don Curzio, the lawyer tenor
Figaro, man-servant to the Count baritone
Count Almaviva baritone
Dr. Bartolo bass
Antonio, the gardener bass

Setting: 18th-Century Seville, in the Court of Count Almaviva

Act I

Figaro and Susanna are engaged. Their employer, the Count Almaviva has designs upon the bride; Susanna worries, Figaro fumes. Moreover, Figaro owes money to Marcellina, and must marry her if he cannot repay it. The news pleases Bartolo, who has an old grievance with Figaro.

Adolescent pageboy Cherubino admits to Susanna that he adores all women at the court, even the Countess. Hearing the approach of the Count, Cherubino hides, then hears the Count’s overtures to Susanna. Music master Basilio’s intrusion causes the Count to conceal himself, too. Before long, all are exposed to each other.

Figaro brings a group of villagers to remind the Count of his vow to abolish an ancient tradition of claiming the right to all women in the court. Annoyed, the Count announces that Cherubino will be sent to military service.

Act II

The Countess mourns her husband’s fading affections. Figaro’s plan against the Count includes Cherubino masquerading as Susanna.  Hearing the Count approaching, Cherubino hides. Sure that his wife conceals a lover in the locked dressing room, the Count takes her with him to fetch tools to force the door. While they are away, Susanna frees Cherubino, who flees through the window.

The Count and the Countess return, finding only Susanna. Gradually, they are joined by others, including the gardener Antonio, angered by trampled flowers and a dropped document. Figaro attempts to explain it all away. With the entrance of Marcellina, Bartolo, and Basilio, all builds to a dramatic and intricate ensemble.


Susanna tells the Count she will submit to him in return for a generous dowry that would pay Figaro’s debt to Marcellina. Summoning Don Curzio, a lawyer, the Count hopes to force Figaro to marry Marcellina. However, unexpected news changes that plan, to the delight of all but the Count.

A group of peasant girls, come to pay tribute to the Countess, proves to have a familiar face in the crowd: Cherubino, still disguised as a girl. Festivities ensue, and a spurious note is passed to the Count.

Act IV

Barbarina bewails that she has lost a token the Count had asked her to deliver to Susanna. This news leaves Figaro lamenting the faithlessness of women.

Disguised as each other, Susanna and the Countess lead much of the male population into confusion. Gradually realizing the game, Figaro takes the opportunity to tease Susanna. They are soon reconciled, but the Count is slower to catch on to the action. At last, all is revealed, the Count apologizes, and conflicts are resolved.

Program notes and synopsis © Betsy Schwarm, author of theClassical Music Insightsseries, including Operatic Insights.

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