Setting: The grand estate of Count Almaviva, just outside Seville.
On the eve of their wedding Figaro, valet to Count Almaviva, and Susanna, his sweetheart and maid to the Countess, assess the accommodations granted to them by their employers. Though Susanna is secure in her love for Figaro, and seemingly immune to the Count's repeated advances, Figaro ponders the situation with trepidation. Not long after Figaro finishes one set of worries two more set upon him. Marcellina, a woman old enough to be his mother and obsessed enough to warrant a restraining order, enters with Don Bartolo, planning to collapse Figaro's nuptials. Marcellina feels that Figaro must marry her to settle a debt. Susanna returns as Bartolo departs with time enough to quarrel with Marcellina. Quick on Susanna's heels is the page, Cherubino, who is oozing with "amore" and desperately trying to enlist her aid. He is woefully in love with the Countess and wishes to be her private servant. The page barely has a moment to conceal himself, as Count Almaviva arrives to allure Susanna. Don Basilio, the music master, interrupts soon after, and the Count then hides. Don Basilio has come to gossip and criticize Cherubino for his bold admiration for the Countess. Hearing this, the Count becomes infuriated, reveals himself, and recounts the page's recent escapades with Barbarina, his gardener's daughter. While denouncing the harmless flirt the Count discovers him concealed behind a chair. Figaro then returns with a round of peasants praising the Count. This eases his near-exploding temper just enough to keep him from wringing Cherubino's neck. He sends him into his regiment instead, the act closing with a sardonic Figaro congratulating Cherubino on his forthcoming career in the military.
Countess Almaviva is in solitude as she laments the loss of love in her marriage. Susanna and Figaro come into her quarters to help devise a plan to bring more respectable behavior from their unruly master. With the addition of Cherubino, who pops in to sing a love song, the foursome construct a plan in which the Count will be embarrassed into changing his ways. He will receive an anonymous letter accusing the Countess of infidelity and an enticing invitation from Susanna to meet in the garden concealed by night. When the Count attempts to seduce her, he will find that the woman is really Cherubino. The Countess, innocent and hiding close by, will be able to intercede. Figaro departs and in preparation, Susanna tries to dress Cherubino in a gown, but he foolishly flirts with the Countess. Before the costume is complete the Count approaches and Cherubino is tossed into hiding. He fumbles and the noise captures the Count's attention. While the Count departs to gather tools to break down the door, Susanna slips into Cherubino's place and the page jumps from the window. But the Countess has confessed that a partially dressed page is behind the door and the Count threatens violence. When Susanna is revealed, the Count apologizes profusely. Figaro arrives announcing the wedding feast. The befuddled Count becomes suspicious and demands explanation of the anonymous letter he received. Just then the inebriated Antonio, the gardener, arrives demanding to know who jumped from the window and destroyed his flowerbeds. In an attempt to appease the situation Figaro claims that it was he who leapt from the window, but Antonio then hands over documents left behind by the page. The Count demands to know of the documents and with some prompting from the women, Figaro asserts that he was delivering Cherubino's enlistment papers, which are awaiting the official seal. The Count is assuaged momentarily, until Marcellina, Bartolo and Basilio enter demanding the Count persecute Figaro for his breech of promise. The act concludes in mass chaos.
Susanna indulges the Count and plans to meet him in the garden after the wedding. The Count feels successful in his wooing, until he overhears Susanna whispering to Figaro that he is sure to be acquitted. The Count, sensing mischief set against him, expounds on the deceit of a servant having the woman he desires. Meanwhile at Don Curzio's, Figaro claims that he can not marry Marcellina because he does not have his parents' permission. But he is unable to identity his parents, until he discovers proof that they are none other than Marcellina and Bartolo. The family rejoices, Marcellina and Don Bartolo deciding to celebrate their own wedding on the same day as their son and new daughter-in-law. Susanna and the Countess later construct the letter, which will confirm the plan set against the Count. Ladies arrive to bring flowers to the Countess, and the estate hurriedly prepares for a double wedding. Cherubino, who is dressed among the ladies, is spotted and exposed by Antonio. Barbarina intercedes on Cherubino's behalf and pleads with the Count for the one wish he has previously promised her. He succumbs and agrees to let Barbarina marry Cherubino. During the celebration that follows, the Count opens Susanna's letter. Figaro enjoys watching as the Count pricks his finger on the pin that closed the envelope, as festivities ensue.
In the garden at night, Barbarina is heard searching for the pin left behind by the Count. Figaro forces her to reveal that she is meant to return it to Susanna to confirm their secret meeting. In a rage of jealously Figaro expounds the injustices and cruelties of women. Meanwhile, Susanna celebrates the excitement of the forthcoming night of love as Figaro mistakes her words for words about the Count and is devastated. Susanna and the Countess adjust their scheme. The Countess, dressed as Susanna, awaits her husband's arrival and finds herself being kissed by the page! Cherubino is tossed off by the Count who then unknowingly charms and adores his own wife. Figaro, seeing "Susanna" kissing the Count finds the "Countess" who he knows is hiding nearby and starts to kiss her. All parties discover the identity of their rightful partner and rejoice in a rightful happily ever after.
Courtesy of Boston Lyric Opera