A room. Figaro is measuring out a space on the floor where he intends to place a matrimonial bed, a gift from the Count for his wedding to Susanna. But Susanna refuses to accept the gift which is meant evidently to conquer her favours; Figaro however, is confident that he will be able to protect himself and his future bride from me Count’s designs. When Figaro and Susanna leave the room, Marcellina comes in with Don Bartolo, and the pair of them plot to force Figaro to marry Marcellina to whom, she says, he had declared his love. But Susanna comes back and teases Marcellina for her matrimonial aspirations: she is too old to hope for such a thing. Now comes Cherubino who wants to enlist Susanna’s help in getting the Count to reinstate him as me Countess’s page. Voices are heard outside and Cherubino has only just time to conceal himself before the Count comes into Susanna’s room and starts to protest his affection. But unfortunately the Count is followed a moment later by Don Basilio. In the scramble for concealment Cherubino jumps into the chair behind which the Count takes refuge. Susanna quickly covers him up wim a dressing-gown. Basilio gossips about Cherubino, telling Susanna of an intrigue between the page and the Countess. The Count can bear it no longer and emerges from his hiding place to order Basilio to fetch Cherubino at once. Susanna faints but revives in time to plead the cause of the unhappy Cherubino, a mere boy she says. The Count describes how he caught the page the previous day hiding under a cover in Barbarina’s room. While saying this, he lifts the gown from the chair – and there is Cherubino again. Led in by Figaro, a band of peasants comes in to sing the Count’s praises and Susanna again pleads me cause of Cherubino. At last the Count yields to the general entreaties. He grants his pardon to the page but orders him to depart at once to serve in the army.
The Countess’s room. Susanna explains the situation to the Countess and lets in Figaro. He describes his plan to stop the Count’s attentions to Susanna. Cherubino, disguised in Susanna’s clothes, will grant the Count an appointment and the Countess will be able to catch her husband red-handed. Cherubino is called in, and the two women help him to dress for the part. But suddenly a knock is heard at the door. lt is the Count, and he is suspicious of his wife. Cherubino dashes into the Countess’s bedroom and Susanna hides behind a curtain. A noise is heard from within the bedroom and the Countess tells her husband that Susanna is in there. But the Count wants proof and goes off with his wife to find a hammer to break the door down. Cherubino slips out of hiding and jumps from the window into the garden below, leaving Susanna to take his pIace. On coming back the Countess confesses to her husband that Cherubino is in the room, but to the great astonishment of both, Susanna emerges calmly from the room. The Count can do nothing but ask for pardon. Figaro comes in to summon his master and mistress to the wedding dance which is about to begin. But Antonio, the gardener, also bursts in saying that a man has jumped from the window into his flower-beds. Figaro says that it was he who jumped out. Marcellina arrives, supported by Bartolo and Basilio to complain formally before the Count against Figaro for breach of promise. The Count decides to postpone the wedding to the next day.
A drawing-room. Susanna agrees to meet the Count that night, upon his promise that he will pay the sum requested by Marcellina as compensation. Figaro is called in and me Count gives judgement in favour of Marcellina. Figaro says that he will not be persuaded to marry her because he is of noble
birth, and to prove this he shows a tattooed design on his arm. Thus the astounding discovery is made that Marcellina is Figaro’s mother and Bartolo his father. But Susanna and the Countess want to punish me Count: Susanna writes a love letter to the Count, confirming their meeting for that night.
The garden. Figaro sees Barbarina who is about to deliver to Susanna the Count’s reply and is overcome with distress at this apparent indication of his wife’s unfaithfulness. He therefore decides to go to the meeting and watch them. Susanna and the Countess arrive. They have changed clothes. The Countess, disguised as Susanna, waits for her lover. Cherubino arrives and attempts to flirt with the supposed Susanna. But the Count interrupts and starts to make love all unknowing to his wife in disguise. Figaro does not know about the change of clothes and it is his turn to interrupt. Cherubino runs away. Susanna, disguised as me Countess, meets Figaro and finally he is told about the plot. The two combine to make the Count think their love-making is in reality that of mistress and valet. The ruse succeeds, the Count summons everybody to bear witness to me unfaithfulness of his wife. At last everything is made clear. The Count begs forgiveness and the opera ends in general rejoicing.