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Mozart: La Finta Giardiniera / Östman, Croft

Mozart / Dct / Ustman
Release Date: 01/17/2006 
Label:  Arthaus Musik   Catalog #: 102007  
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Eva PilatAnnika SkoglundRichard CroftPetteri Salomaa,   ... 
Conductor:  Arnold Östman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Drottningholm Court Theatre OrchestraDrottningholm Court Theatre Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Low Stock: Currently 3 or fewer in stock. Usually ships in 24 hours, unless stock becomes depleted.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Director: Goran Jarvefelt
Audio: PCM Stereo
Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish

R E V I E W S:

Unlike many of Mozart’s other operas, La finta gardiniera , or its German singspiel incarnation, Die Gärtnerin aus Liebe , does not enjoy recordings and videos in abundance, which makes this performance from the Drottningholm Court Theatre all the more valuable. It has some cuts (several arias and sections of recitative); otherwise, the charm of this piece is preserved and presented in a traditional, period production. It is Read more so period that even the orchestra members and conductor Arnold Östman wear 18th-century garb. The sets are wing and drop painted to depict the various interior and exterior scenes, the lighting is a general illumination of the stage, and the actors wear costumes appropriate to the era. It is a handsome production that transports the viewer back to an earlier era. Best of all, the cast includes people equally talented as singers and actors. Stage director Göran Järvefelt created a production that is lively, witty, full of youthful good spirits and joy, with lots of energy, and filled with business that is often clever and always tasteful.

The teenaged Mozart was anxious to compose operas, although he had ambitions of writing heroic pieces rather than examples of the opera buffa that was gaining in popularity. Giuseppe Petrosellini had written a libretto that was set to music by Pasquale Anfossi, which was performed in Rome in 1773. The ambassador of Electoral Bavaria praised the work, whereupon the Electoral Prince decided he wanted to present the work, newly composed, at the next carnival. The libretto and commission were presented to Mozart.

The libretto is rather uneven, a curious mixture of elements involving disguises, mistaken and false identities, complex plots where several characters are in love with people who don’t love them, a pair of lovers separated by unusual circumstances, with scheming individuals, tearful arias, and surprise revelations. Central to these situations is an aging man infatuated with a younger woman. Mozart cast Don Anchise as a tenor rather than the more usual buffa bass. The giocoso parts of La finta gardiniera are delightful. The moments when it turns serious are handled well, but tend to slow the action. Mozart’s music does much to smooth over the inconsistencies between serious and comic. It is one of the first scores to show Mozart’s musical maturation. There are no da capo arias and tempo changes are dictated by textual needs. The complexities of the first and second act finales are noteworthy and rather novel for the time. They clearly pave the way for the musically rich finales in the Da Ponte trio.

The initial performance of La finta giardiniera was apparently well received. A good cast had been assembled and the music was praised. Reports on the state of the orchestra vary. One source described the orchestra as small (23 musicians), but they performed well; another source described the orchestra as “large but untidy.” The second performance was given in a ballroom as part of the festivities surrounding a masked concert. One of the singers became ill, so the third performance was marred by the elimination of the role. There were no further performances during Mozart’s lifetime of the opera as he originally composed it, using a libretto in Italian; however, it reappeared in the 1780s as a German Singspiel, Die Gärtnerin aus Liebe (Augsburg 1780, Frankfurt 1782, and Mainz 1789). Ironically, it was the singspiel version that survived. It was not until the missing parts of the Italian original, including large sections of the first act, were discovered in the 1970s that a reconstruction of the opera was possible. This Drottningholm Theatre production uses the reconstructed Italian version.

The most recognized name in the cast is American Richard Croft. To single him out for praise, however, is unfair to the rest of this talented cast. It is very much an ensemble performance, with musical and acting talent in abundance throughout. There is lots of period posturing, posing, and manners, and since it’s a small house, no one needs to compromise musical interpretation for the sake of belting to the back row. The picture is full frame, fairly clear and detailed, and the well-balanced sound preserves the acoustics of the theater without any artificial amplification. Watching this provided a most enjoyable two and half hours.

FANFARE: David L. Kirk
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Works on This Recording

La finta giardiniera, K 196 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Eva Pilat (Mezzo Soprano), Annika Skoglund (Mezzo Soprano), Richard Croft (Tenor),
Petteri Salomaa (Baritone), Ann Christine Biel (Soprano)
Conductor:  Arnold Östman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Drottningholm Court Theatre Orchestra,  Drottningholm Court Theatre Chorus
Period: Classical 
Written: 1775; Munich, Germany 

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