Mozart: La finta giardiniera

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ALBUM TITLE: La finta giardiniera
WORKS: La finta giardiniera
PERFORMER: Rudolf Schasching, Eva Mei, Christoph Strehl, Isabel Rey, Liliana Nikiteanu, Julia Kleiter; Zurich Opera Orchestra ‘La Scintilla’/Nikolaus Harnoncourt; dir. Tobias Moretti (Zurich, 2006)


La finta giardiniera, premiered in

Munich in 1775, was composed

when Mozart was just 18. Of all the

operas written before his maturity,

this opera buffa is by some distance

the most interesting: musically

ambitious and a pointer to Mozart’s

later masterpieces, it is dramatically

complex, dealing seriously with

genuine emotional entanglements

beneath its farcical surface.

This Zurich production resets it

in the present day. If this inevitably

compromises its network of 18thcentury

class hierarchies, Tobias

Moretti’s well-prepared staging

defines characters and relationships

with a genuine sense of style, only

going too far in the addition of

extraneous business to enliven (or

rather distract from) the essential

action. But it’s more than capably

sung and acted, with Eva Mei

visually and vocally memorable as

the Countess disguised as a gardener,

Rudolf Schasching supplying

amiable buffoonery as the amorous

mayor Don Anchise, and Julia

Kleiter enjoying herself as the mayor’s

spiky, unruly servant, Serpetta. The

other high-born pair – Isabel Rey’s

flamboyant Arminda and Christoph

Strehl’s vain Belfiore – are wittily

satirised as a couple of self-regarding,

empty-headed celebs.

Visually the show provides good

fun in Rolf Glittenberg’s smart

new villa set and Renate Martin and Andreas Donhauser’s fashionconscious

contemporary costumes.

Nikolaus Harnoncourt, working with

the well-appointed Zurich Opera’s

own in-house period-instrument

orchestra, brings flair and insight.


George Hall