Short summary - The Barber of Seville - Le Barbier de Séville - Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The Barber of Seville - Le Barbier de Séville
Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais

On the night street of Seville, dressed as a modest bachelor, Count Almaviva is waiting for the object of his love to appear in the window. A noble nobleman, tired of court licentiousness, for the first time wants to win the pure, unbiased love of a young noble girl. Therefore, so that the title does not overshadow the person, he hides his name.

The beautiful Rosina lives locked up under the supervision of an old guardian, Dr. Bartolo. It is known that the old man is in love with his pupil and her money and is going to keep her in prison until the poor thing marries him. Suddenly, on the same street, a merrily humming Figaro appears and recognizes the count, his old acquaintance. Promising to keep the count's incognito, the rogue Figaro tells his story: having lost his position as a veterinarian due to too loud and dubious literary fame, he tries to establish himself in the role of a writer. But although his songs are sung all over Spain, Figaro cannot cope with the competition, and he becomes a wandering barber. Thanks to his incredible wit, as well as worldly wisdom, Figaro, philosophically and with constant irony, perceives sorrows and enchants with his cheerfulness. Together they decide how to rescue Rosina from captivity, who is in love with the count in return. Figaro enters the house of the furiously jealous Bartolo as a barber and healer. They plan that the count will appear disguised as a drunken soldier, assigned to a post at the doctor's house. Figaro himself, meanwhile, will incapacitate Bartolo's servants, using simple medical means.

The blinds open and Rosina appears in the window, as always with the doctor. Allegedly, by accident, she drops a sheet of music and a note for her unknown admirer, in which he is asked to reveal his name and rank in singing. The doctor runs to pick up the sheet, but the count turns out to be more agile. To the tune from "Vain Precaution" he sings a serenade, in which he calls himself the obscure bachelor of Lindor. The suspicious Bartolo is sure that the sheet with the notes was dropped and allegedly carried away by the wind for a reason, and Rosina must be conspiring with a mysterious admirer.

The next day, poor Rosina is languishing and bored, imprisoned in her room, and tries to figure out a way to convey the letter to "Lindor". Figaro had just "treated" the doctor's household: he blew the blood from his leg for the maid, and prescribed sleeping pills and sneezes for the servants. He takes on the letter to Rosina and, meanwhile, overhears Bartolo's conversation with Basil, Rosina's music teacher and Bartolo's main ally. According to Figaro, this is a poor crook who is ready to hang himself for a penny. Basil reveals to the doctor that Count Almaviva, who is in love with Rosina, is in Seville and has already established a correspondence with her. Horrified, Bartolo asks to arrange his wedding the next day. Count Basile proposes to pour slander in Rosina's eyes. Basil leaves, and the doctor rushes to Rosina to find out what she could talk with Figaro about. At this moment, the count appears in the uniform of a cavalryman, pretending that he is drunk. His goal is to name himself Rosina, give her a letter and, if possible, stay in the house for the night. Bartolo, with a keen sense of jealousy, guesses what kind of intrigue lies behind this. A funny skirmish takes place between him and the imaginary soldier, during which the count manages to hand over a letter to Rosina. The doctor proves to the count that he is freed from the stand and kicks him out.

The Count makes another attempt to break into Bartolo's house. He changes into a bachelor's suit and calls himself Basil's apprentice, who is kept in bed by sudden sickness. The count hopes that Bartolo will immediately offer him to replace Basil and give Rosina a lesson, but he underestimates the old man's suspicion. Bartolo decides to visit Basilio immediately, and in order to restrain him, the alleged bachelor mentions the name of Count Almaviva. Bartolo demands new information, and then the count has to inform on behalf of Basil that Rosina's correspondence with the count has been discovered, and he is instructed to give the doctor Rosina's intercepted letter. The count is desperate to be forced to hand over the letter, but there is no other way to earn the old man's trust. He even offers to use this letter when the moment comes to break Rosina's resistance and convince her to marry a doctor. It is enough to lie that Basil's student received it from one woman, and then confusion, shame, annoyance can bring her to a desperate act. Bartolo is delighted with this plan and immediately believes that the count was indeed sent by the bastard Basil. Under the guise of a singing lesson, Bartolo decides to introduce the imaginary student to Rosina, which is what the count wanted. But they do not succeed in being alone during the lesson, because Bartolo does not want to miss the chance to enjoy the pupil's singing. Rosina sings a song from "Vain Precaution" and, slightly altering it, turns the song into a love confession to Lindor. The lovers are taking time to wait for Figaro to arrive, who will have to distract the doctor. Finally he comes, and the doctor scolds him for the fact that Figaro mutilated his household. Why, for example, was it necessary to put a poultice on the eyes of a blind mule? It would be better if Figaro returned the debt to the doctor with interest, to which Figaro swears that he would rather be in debt to Bartolo all his life than give up this debt even for a moment. Bartolo swears in response that he will not yield in an argument with the impudent one. Figaro turns his back, saying that he, on the contrary, always yields to him. And in general, he just came to shave the doctor, and not to intrigue, as he deigns to think. Bartolo is in difficulty: on the one hand, it is necessary to shave, on the other, Figaro cannot be left alone with Rosina, otherwise he will be able to give her the letter again. Then the doctor decides, in violation of all decency, to shave in the room with Rosina, and send Figaro for the device. The conspirators are delighted as Figaro has the ability to remove the blinds key from the bunch. Suddenly, the sound of breaking dishes is heard, and Bartolo, screaming, runs out of the room to save his appliance. The Count manages to make Rosina a date in the evening to free her from bondage, but he does not have enough time to tell her about the letter given to the doctor. Bartolo and Figaro return, and at that moment Don Basil enters. Lovers in mute horror that now everything can open up. The doctor asks Basil about his illness and says that his student has already passed on everything. Basil is in disbelief, but the count imperceptibly slips his wallet into his hand and asks him to be silent and leave. The count's weighty argument convinces Basil, and he, citing ill health, leaves. Everyone is relieved to start playing music and shaving. The count declares that before the end of the lesson he must give Rosina the last instructions in the art of singing, leans over to her and in a whisper explains his dressing. But Bartolo sneaks up on the lovers and overhears their conversation. Rosina cries out in fright, and the count, witnessing the doctor's wild antics, doubts that with such oddities of his senora Rosina will want to marry him. Rosina, in anger, vows to give her hand and heart to the one who will free her from the jealous old man. Yes, Figaro sighs, the presence of a young woman and old age - this is what makes old people go mad for reason.

Bartolo runs in a rage to Basil to shed light on all this confusion. Basil admits that he had never seen the bachelor in the eyes, and only the generosity of the gift made him silent. The doctor does not understand why he had to take the wallet. But at that moment Basil was bewildered, and in difficult cases gold always seems to be an irrefutable argument. Bartolo decides to make his last efforts to possess Rosina. However, Basil advises him not to do this. After all, the possession of all kinds of goods is not everything. To enjoy the possession of them is what happiness consists in. To marry a woman who does not love you is to expose yourself to endless hard scenes. Why abuse her heart? And besides, Bartolo replies that it would be better if she cries because he is her husband than to die because she is not his wife. Therefore, he is going to marry Rosina the same night and asks to bring a notary as soon as possible. As for Rosina's stubbornness, the imaginary bachelor, unwittingly, suggested how to use her letter to slander the count. He gives Basil his keys to all the doors and asks to bring a notary as soon as possible. Poor Rosina, terribly nervous, is waiting for Lindor to appear in the window. Suddenly, the steps of the guardian were heard, Rosina wants to leave and asks the annoying old man to give her peace at least at night, but Bartolo begs to listen to him. He shows Rosina's letter to the count, and the poor thing recognizes him. Bartolo lies that as soon as Count Almaviva received the letter, he immediately began to brag about it. It came to Bartolo allegedly from one woman to whom the Count presented a letter. And the woman told about everything in order to get rid of such a dangerous rival. Rosina was to become the victim of a monstrous conspiracy between the count, Figaro and the young bachelor, the count's henchman. Rosina is shocked that Lindor, it turns out, conquered her not for himself, but for some Count Almaviva. Beside herself with humiliation, Rosina invites the doctor to immediately marry her and warns him about the impending kidnapping. Bartolo runs for help, intending to ambush the Count near the house in order to catch him as a robber. Unhappy insulted Rosina is left alone and decides to play a game with Linder to make sure how low a person can fall. The blinds open, Rosina runs away in fear. The count is only concerned about whether the humble Rosina will think his plan to immediately marry too impudent. Figaro advises then to call her cruel, and women are very fond of being called cruel. Rosina appears, and the count begs her to share the poor man's lot with him. Rosina indignantly replies that she would consider it happiness to share his bitter fate if not for the abuse of her love, as well as the baseness of this terrible Count Almaviva, to whom they were going to sell her. The count immediately explains to the girl the essence of the misunderstanding, and she bitterly regrets her gullibility. The count promises her that since she agrees to be his wife, then he is not afraid of anything and will teach the vile old man a lesson.

They hear the front door open, but instead of the doctor, Basil and the notary appear with the guards. A prenuptial agreement is immediately signed, for which Basil receives a second wallet. Bartolo burst in with a guard, who is immediately embarrassed when he learns that the count is in front of him. But Bartolo refuses to recognize the marriage as valid, citing the rights of a guardian. They object to him that, having abused his rights, he lost them, and resistance to such a respectable union only testifies to the fact that he is afraid of responsibility for the poor management of the pupil's affairs. The count promises not to demand anything from him except consent to the marriage, and this broke the stubbornness of the stingy old man. Bartolo blames his own negligence for everything, but Figaro is inclined to call it thoughtlessness. However, when youth and love conspire to deceive the old man, all his efforts to prevent them can be called a vain precaution.