We just met Cherubino, and now we’ll meet the man who was chasing him. Like Figaro and Susanna, Count is us too, but we’d never want to admit that. Physically, Cherubino may be an adolescent, but emotionally, the Count is a child - accustomed to getting what he wants, when he wants it, how he wants it, and with the danger only a powerful adult can have over us when he doesn’t get it. But don’t automatically write off the Count as a cartoon villain. A bad person he is, but he is us all, as educated people, as Americans, as people who spend too much and earn too little, as people who believe we deserve privileges simply by the achievement of being born, as people who demand power over others simply by being older, or younger, or smarter, or dumber. Like us all, no amount of material comfort brings him any happiness or peace. He embodies what Christopher Hitchens used to call the ‘rage of the entitled.’ And what he feels he’s entitled to at the moment is Susanna.
But we also have another person to meet. Don Basilio, the chaplain and music master of the Count’s estate through which the Count conveys his indecent proposal to allow Susanna’s marriage to Figaro in exchange for a night with Susanna. And as far as clergymen go, Basilio embodies extreme unction. Nobody in this play is oilier, slipperier, smarmier, or more important to the plot. He’s the only person in the play who can match wits with Figaro and Susanna, and every time they masterminds a new plan, Basilio is there to counter them with a plan just as masterful.
(find Mozart piece that alternates between B-Flat Major and F Major)
The plot here is simple. Cherubino was running away from the Count, who caught him with the gardner’s daughter, whom the Count is also sleeping with, and Cherubino came into Susanna’s room with the added benefit that he could hit on Susanna. A few minutes later, the Count enters for the sole purpose of hitting on Susanna. So Cherubino has to hide (Cherubino goes to hide in the chair.) But within a minute of the Count entering, Basilio enters too, so that Count also has to hide. Basilio has two intentions, one is to convince Susanna to sleep with the Count, the other is to embarrass Susanna by implying that there are rumors afoot that she’s already sleeping with Cherubino. The Count hears the implication, and gets so mad that he reveals himself.
(begin Cosa Sento)