Sung in Italian with projected English translation.
Appropriate for all ages
3 hours, 20 minutes
Number of intermissions: 1
One of the greatest operas of all times examines love and lust in a single day of madness.
This revolutionary masterpiece follows a resourceful valet who uses every trick in the book to keep his comely fiancée out of the clutches of the lustful Count Almaviva.
A quintessential comedy of manners, Mozart's work is a timeless look at husbands and wives, masters and servants, and hearts both fickle and true—all played to glorious music.
A co-production of Houston Grand Opera and Glyndebourne Festival Opera
Brown Theater, Wortham Theater Center
Three years have passed since The Barber of Seville, and Rosina now lives at the palace as Countess Almaviva. Figaro has joined the household as the Count's valet; Marcellina is the housekeeper; and Don Basilio has been awarded the post of music teacher. New acquaintances are Cherubino, the adolescent page; Antonio, the gardener; his daughter, Barbarina; and Susanna, the Countess’s maid, whom Figaro intends to marry today. However, Figaro has borrowed money from Marcellina and has promised to either repay the loan within a certain time or marry her. The Count, in the meantime, has promised Susanna a handsome dowry, hoping she will give him the feudal lord’s right to the first night. The Count had vowed to give up this privilege after marrying Rosina.
Early morning in a room in the palace between the apartments of the Count and the Countess
Figaro is proud of the fine room and bed the Count has given him as a wedding present. Susanna, however, refuses to move in, revealing the Count's lecherous motives to her unsuspecting bridegroom. Figaro, seeing his master in a new light, slyly begins to map out his revenge. Meanwhile, Marcellina has summoned Doctor Bartolo to the palace to enlist his aid in preventing the marriage. He promises his support, realizing it is his chance to seek revenge upon Figaro, who thwarted Doctor Bartolo's marriage to Rosina. Cherubino begs Susanna to plead his cause with the Countess, so that he can remain in service. The jealous Count wants to dismiss Cherubino and tries to bribe Susanna into agreeing to a rendezvous in the park on her wedding night, but she refuses him. Don Basilio intrigues on the Count's behalf and at the same time slanders the page who, frightened out of his wits, has hidden. Figaro collects the servants to proceed with the wedding. He leads them in praising the Count for abolishing the droit de seigneur and asks the Count to place the white veil, a symbol of virtue, on Susanna's head. The Count refuses! The struggle has begun. The Count hopes that Marcellina will help in postponing the wedding. Finally, he sends Cherubino off to the regiment. However, Figaro has a bright idea. On the sly, he asks the page to stay at the palace until evening.
Morning in the Countess’s boudoir
Susanna has just told the Countess about the preceding events. The Countess is very unhappy and longs to regain her husband's love. Figaro devises a fresh plot against the Count: Susanna is to agree to the rendezvous in the park, but Cherubino will put on her clothes and go in her stead. To mislead the Count, Figaro has smuggled him a letter, which hints that the Countess has a lover. As Cherubino is trying on the Countess’ clothes, the jealous Count returns unexpectedly. Cherubino jumps from the balcony to escape, but Antonio notices him. Figaro convinces the Count that it was he who jumped out the window. Marcellina, Doctor Bartolo and Don Basilio enter and accuse Figaro of lying. Figaro's wedding is seriously threatened.
Afternoon in a palace hall
The Countess decides to take action. To make sure the wedding occurs, she urges Susanna to invite the Count to a tryst in the park. The Countess will keep the assignation, wearing Susanna's dress, and surprise the unfaithful Count. The Count, realizing that he is being mocked, plans to put an end to his servant's impudence and avenge himself by backing Marcellina's claim, forcing Figaro to either marry her or repay the loan. Once again, the Count's plans are frustrated: it turns out that Marcellina and Doctor Bartolo, although not married, are Figaro's parents. In addition, the Countess has given Susanna money to pay Figaro's debt. The Countess resolves to show up her husband and dictates a love letter to Susanna, sealing it with a pin, which is to be returned as an answer. Cherubino, who has been hiding in the palace, turns up again among a bevy of village girls led by Barbarina, who presents flowers to the Countess. The Count is forced to hold a double wedding: Figaro and Susanna, Doctor Bartolo and Marcellina. When Susanna slips the Count the invitation, he regains his good humor and bids everyone to join in the celebrations.
Evening in the park of the palace
Barbarina has lost the pin that the Count asked her to give secretly to Susanna. Figaro finds out about this and thinks that Susanna is being unfaithful to him. In his jealousy, Figaro brings Doctor Bartolo, Don Basilio and other guests to the rendezvous to expose the Count and Susanna. Susanna punishes Figaro for his suspicions by turning up at the park and pretending to be lovesick as she waits for the Count. The Countess changes clothes with Susanna. Looking for Barbarina, Cherubino enters and nearly ruins the Countess' plot. Figaro soon stumbles onto what is happening. Everyone now participates in the game of putting the Count in his place after he has tried to seduce his own wife disguised as Susanna. Before the "day of madness" is over, Mozart lets everyone experience a brief moment of harmony — alas, so brief!
Synopsis by Göran Järvefelt
Baker Botts L.L.P.
Mr. and Mrs. Harlan C. Stai
Boulware & Valoir
Sidley Austin LLP