• Synopsis
  • Opera

The story of Le nozze di Figaro

Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro is an opera with rousing music, hilarious characters and a wacky story. Everything starts with Figaro and Susanna eager to get married, but that turns out to be more difficult than expected. Read about the obstacles the couple has to overcome, and the hilarious situations it all leads to.

Wed, May 17, 2023

Le Nozze de Figaro repetitiebeeld 1


The servants and fiancés Susanna and Figaro are up at dawn, busily preparing for married life. Figaro readies the space for the bed the Count has generously promised them, and Susanna deliberates about what to wear to their wedding. She reminds her husband-to-be that the Count’s gesture is not so selfless at all: he fancies her and will do whatever he can to get her into bed while he still can. The Count unexpectedly acquires a pair of allies: Marcellina and Bartolo, an offbeat older couple. They apparently once had an affair, but more importantly, Figaro has an unpaid debt with Marcellina, and she has come to collect. One condition of the loan was that if he defaulted, he would have to marry her. Bartolo has a bone of his own to pick with Figaro, so he gladly offers Marcellina legal assistance in her case against Figaro.

Then there is Cherubino, the adolescent page bursting with sexual yearnings and who falls for practically every woman he meets. The Count has already caught Cherubino with Barbarina (the daughter of the gardener from Act II) and will not tolerate competition for the attentions of the females on the estate. Just as Cherubino turns to Susanna for help, who should show up in her chamber unannounced but the amorous Count. The startled page hides, hears something he probably shouldn’t have, and is again nabbed by the Count. (This is all quite amusing to Basilio, who sees that his job – stoking intrigue amongst the castle residents – is being done for him.) To be rid of the frisky young rascal once and for all, the Count sends Cherubino to join the army. As this first act draws to a close, Figaro – backed by a group of locals he has drummed up for this effort – attempts to get the Count to abandon his designs on his fiancée and presses for a speedy marriage between him and Susanna.

Le Nozze de Figaro repetitiebeeld 4
Repetitiebeeld: Annemie Augustijns


The Countess reflects with sorrow on her husband’s infidelities. The lovelorn woman conspires with Susanna and Figaro: she is hoping to regain her husband’s affections and the servants eager to marry. The trio decides to catch the Count at his own game: they’ll show him a phony note from a ‘secret lover’ of the Countess. If all goes according to plan, in his jealous wrath he will forget Susanna and return to his wife. On second thought, they revise their plan thus: Cherubino (who is still hiding in the room) shall be disguised as Susanna and lure the Count to the wooded garden; he will be caught by onlookers trying to seduce ‘Susanna’ and, publicly humiliated, will mend his lustful ways. Several plot twists, locked doors, and a daring leap out of a window later, the Count is forced to apologise to the Countess for something else. But he doesn’t give up yet – it is time to play his trump card from Act I: Marcellina and Bartolo.

Le Nozze de Figaro repetitiebeeld 5
Repetitiebeeld: Annemie Augustijns


After much confusion, endless shouting, and a sham trial, Marcellina and Bartolo are forced to abandon their lawsuit due to a matter of heredity. Cherubino takes on a new disguise – again as a girl – so he can stay for the wedding. Susanna and the Countess, having concluded after Act II that it’s best to arrange their schemes without Figaro’s meddling, decide that the Countess shall pose as Susanna in order to catch her husband red-handed.


Perhaps Susanna and the Countess should have clued Figaro in on their plan after all. Too late: Figaro, hidden in the darkness of the arbour, thinks he spies Susanna (the Countess in disguise) preparing for an illicit rendezvous with the Count. His anger, fortunately short-lived, shows that he still has a thing or two to learn. Cherubino also pops up one last time at precisely the wrong moment. But as is the case for us all: in the end the truth always comes out. The Count realises that he has been tricked. He has no choice but to admit his blunder in front of the entire household and beg his wife’s forgiveness, which she grants him. The finale sums it up: it was inevitable that this madcap, confusing day could only end in conciliation and love.

Le Nozze de Figaro repetitiebeeld 2
Repetitiebeeld: Annemie Augustijns

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