ALBUM TITLE: La finta giardiniera
WORKS: La finta giardiniera
PERFORMER: Erin Morley, Carlo Allemano, Enea Scala, Marie-Adeline Henry, Maria Savastano, Nikolay Borchev, Dimitri La Sade-Dotti, Marcelo Rodrigues, Rolim de Goes; Le Concert d’Astrée/Emmanuelle Haïm; dir. David Lescot (Lille, 2014)
CATALOGUE NO: Erato DVD: 2564616645; Blu-ray: 2564616644
Two early operas by Mozart prove his genius beyond question – Mitridate (written when he was 14), and this one (composed when he was 18). Its plot, both comic and serious, concerns a certain Count Belfiore who once loved Violante but stabbed her and left her for dead. She now works in disguise as ‘Sandrina’, a pretended gardener (La finta giardiniera). Eventually Belfiore arrives on the estate to marry someone else (Arminda) and the whole situation begins to unravel. Mozart distinguishes the seven characters involved brilliantly, and the dramatic twists culminate in a fantastic mad scene in a dark wood. The conductor (Emmanuelle Haïm) and director (David Lescot), too, have been magnificently inventive in bringing drive and purpose to the action on the stage, and especially in making sense of the many recitatives. The sets are attractively colourful, particularly in the Blu-ray version.
Erin Morley (Sandrina) carries the central role wonderfully with her resourceful acting skills and vocal lyricism (her top C in ‘Geme la tortorella’ is effortless). Enea Scala (Belfiore) is also a fine actor-singer, and Marie-Adeline Henry (Arminda) relishes the bitchiness of her ‘dominatrix’ role, and delivers her vengeance aria ‘Vorrei punirti’ with tremendous power. Marie-Claude Chappuis brings a warm, strong tone to her trouser-role (Ramiro), and Maria Savastano (Serpetta – the servant) and Nikolay Borchev (Nardo – the assistant gardiner) illuminate their parts well beyond the ordinary. There are at least two other DVDs of this opera available, but this latest version from Lille Opéra is the best and should do much to bring this early flash of Mozart’s genius to a wider audience. Anthony Pryer