Figaro introduces himself, declaring that he is so much more than a barber! He knows everything, sees everything, and can solve any problem—that is why he is in such demand. Almaviva is a wealthy ranchero who wants for nothing, and explains that he is in love with Rosina—but Figaro already knows. As they are talking, Rosina appears in the window of the house and waves a note, which she quickly drops to the ground, just as Aunt Bartolo begins to question her about what she is doing. She denies ever having a note, but she hurries off downstairs to find out what fluttered out the window. Almaviva has already scooped it up, before Aunt Bartolo arrives. Aunt Bartolo, assuming that the wind blew it away, shrugs and disappears back into the house.
Almaviva is overjoyed to receive Rosina’s note, until he discovers that it is entirely in Spanish. Rosina, you see, speaks only Spanish, as she recently moved from Spain. But Almaviva, the son of a Mexican ranchero was born in Alta California, and his Spanish is very limited. Figaro, brilliant and bilingual, translates the note in which she professes her affection for Almaviva, but reveals that her Aunt Bartolo wants to marry her off to the nephew of one her rich friends. Incredibly moved, Almaviva serenades Rosina from the street.
Figaro pledges to help Almaviva win the girl of his heart (for a price!), and the two quickly come up with a plan to get Almaviva inside the house to speak with Rosina in person. They will disguise Almaviva as a soldier who has been ordered to stand guard at Aunt Bartolo’s house.
Meanwhile, Rosina asserts her independence and swears that she will get the better of Aunt Bartolo. Figaro arrives to do Rosina’s hair and tells her that the young man under her window is his friend, Lindoro Almaviva, who is very much in love with her. Almaviva arrives disguised as a soldier and bangs loudly at the door. Aunt Bartolo at first refuses him entry, but overwhelmed by his bluster, eventually is brushed aside. Rosina is startled (and delighted) to see him.
The situation becomes even more confusing as Aunt Bartolo enters. Frustrated and irritated, Aunt Bartolo finally shoos Figaro and the supposed soldier towards the door, but the “soldier” is really Rosina in disguise. Almaviva has changed costumes and appears now as Rosina’s music teacher, much to Aunt Bartolo’s confusion! Almaviva, in the role of music teacher, then gives a voice lesson to Rosina during which they flirt, while Aunt Bartolo dozes off.
Figaro enters to give Aunt Bartolo her haircut. As he does so, the lovers plot their escape. Aunt Bartolo overhears them and decides that she must marry Rosina off immediately. When she goes off for the marriage license, Figaro and Almaviva arrive with a ladder to spirit Rosina away. They climb in through the window. Aunt Bartolo returns for a moment, sees the ladder and takes it away, before hurrying off for the license. Meanwhile, Rosina seems upset when she sees Almaviva and accuses him of being a ladies’ man, which her Aunt Bartolo told her. Almaviva protests his innocence and proves his devotion. As the three are about to make good on their escape they notice that the ladder is gone. Aunt Bartolo returns with the license. The intended groom has not arrived and neither has the notary to witness the wedding. Figaro volunteers, and with some clever sleight of hand manages to marry Almaviva and Rosina, and convince Aunt Bartolo that all is well. They all live happily ever after.
Used with the permission of Portland Opera Curriculum written and collected and adapted by Alexis Hamilton, Education & Outreach Manager for Portland Opera.