The comic opera »The Barber of Seville« by Gioachino Rossini, which premiered in 1816, carries the subtitle »The Useless Precaution«, and that’s precisely what it’s all about. Avaricious old Dottore Bartolo tries to keep his ward Rosina at home in order to marry her himself to gain the rich dowry. But his plotting is in vain: In various disguises, and with the help of the barber Figaro, the young and much more desirable Count Almaviva melts the young woman’s heart. »The Barber of Seville« is Rossini’s most popular opera due to its virtuoso arias and fast-paced ensembles, false identities and chicanery, all of which are beautifully realised in Grischa Asagaroff’s funny production.
Count Almaviva is in love with Rosina who lives with her guardian, Doctor Bartolo, who keeps a strict eye on her. He would like to marry his ward himself in order to get her dowry. As Almaviva doesn’t only want to be loved for his standing and wealth, he pretends to be the penniless Lindoro. He hopes his morning serenade will entice Rosina to the window and meets his former servant Figaro again who is now the proud owner of a barber’s shop and shows off his many contacts and skills. He also has a plan for the lovestruck count: dressed as a drunken soldier he should try and gain access to Bartolo’s house. Rosina thinks about how she can break free from Bartolo’s prison and sees an ally in Figaro. Suspicious Bartolo, meanwhile, suspects that Rosina is up to something. Don Basilio, priest and Rosina’s music tutor, warns him about count Almaviva and recommends he get rid of the infamous womaniser through slander. Figaro tells Rosina about »Lindoro« and, to his surprise, the seemingly reserved girl has already written a love letter. Now Almaviva stumbles into the house as a drunken soldier and, with his false official letter, insists he be given accommodation. Rosina is delighted when the soldier introduces himself to her as »Lindoro« but Bartolo presents an official exemption which states he does not have to provide soldiers with accommodation. When the situation escalates, Figaro is able to calm the arguing Bartolo and Almaviva yet their noise has caught the attention of the officer of the watch. The impertinent soldier is to be arrested yet he shows the officer a document which leaves all the soldiers standing to attention in front of him. Bartolo is stunned as to what is happening in his house.
Almaviva makes another attempt to get to Rosina. This time he pretends to be priest Don Alonso who has come in place of Don Basilio, who is allegedly ill, for Rosina’s singing lesson. To make himself appear more believable, he warns Bartolo of Almaviva and gives him, as proof of the count’s interest, Rosina’s letter. Bartolo believes that he has found an ally in »Don Alonso« and watches a presentation of Rosina’s singing progress accompanied by the false music tutor. To give the pair a little time in which they can be undisturbed, Figaro decides to shave Bartolo and cut his hair. At that moment, Don Basilio bursts into the house. Figaro’s powers of persuasion and a cheque from the count are able to get the real music tutor back in his sick bed but this has raised the suspicion of Bartolo. As he is being shaved, he overhears Almaviva whispering to Rosina and sees through their game. A thunderstorm breaks out over the false priest, the ward and the barber. Bartolo now urges Basilio to immediately order the notary for his wedding to Rosina. With the help of the letter he convinces Rosina that her »Lindoro« in truth wants to sell her off to count Almaviva. Disappointed by this, Rosina then reveals the kidnapping plan. Figaro and Almaviva break into Bartolo’s house where they’re met by a dismayed Rosina. However, her rage disappears when her beloved reveals himself to be Almaviva. A small bribe ensures that the notary ordered by Bartolo prepares the marriage agreement for Rosina and Almaviva. Rosina and Almaviva have what they wanted and Bartolo who also wanted to marry Rosina arrives too late.