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Mozart: La Finta Giardiniera / Mei, Rey, Harnoncourt [blu-ray]

Mozart / Zurich Opera House / Moretti
Release Date: 02/26/2013 
Label:  Arthaus Musik   Catalog #: 108044  
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Liliana NikiteanuIsabel ReyChristoph StrehlRudolf Schasching,   ... 
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich La Scintilla Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  
Blu-ray Video:  $39.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Note: This Blu-ray Disc is playable only on Blu-ray Disc players, and not compatible with standard DVD players.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(Blu-ray Disc Version)

Il Podestà Don Anchise – Rudolf Schasching
Sandrina – Eva Mei
Il Contino Belfiore – Christoph Strehl
Arminda – Isabel Rey
Il Cavalier Ramiro – Liliana Nikiteanu
Serpetta – Julia Kleiter
Nardo – Gabriel Bermudez

Zurich La Scintilla Orchestra
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor

Tobias Moretti, stage director
Rolf Glittenberg, set designer
Renate Martin and Andreas Donhauser, costume designer
Jürgen Hoffmann,
Read more lighting designer

Recorded live at the Opernhaus Zürich, 23 and 25 February 2006

Picture format: 1080i Full-HD
Sound format: PCM Stereo / DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian
Running time: 187 mins
No. of Discs: 1 (BD 50)

R E V I E W: 3712270.az_MOZART_La_Nikolaus_Harnoncourt.html

MOZART La finta giardiniera Nikolaus Harnoncourt, cond; Eva Mei ( Sandrina ); Christoph Strehl ( Belfiore ); Rudolf Schasching ( Don Anchise ); Isabel Rey ( Arminda ); Liliana Nikiteanu ( Ramiro ); Julia Kleiter ( Serpetta ); Gabriel Bermudez ( Nardo ); La Scintilla of the Zurich O House ARTHAUS 108 044 (Blu-ray: 187:00) Live: Zurich 2006

La finta giardiniera catches Mozart in about midcareer as an opera composer. That career started early (he composed his first real operatic work, Apollo et Hyacinthus , to a Latin text at age 11), and unfortunately finished early, with his death at the age of 35. La finta giardiniera , composed at the age of 18, finds Mozart well past his youthful experiments and missteps but before the operas of full maturity, beginning with Idomeneo in 1781 and the series of masterpieces that were to follow, including the Da Ponte operas Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi fan tutte . Already, the music heard here is noticeably better, and with Mozart that means going from already very good to, in some instances, sublime. The finales, in particular, are already being molded by Mozart into the complex entertaining musical forms that are a hallmark of his later operas and the gold standard for the later generations of opera composers, including Rossini and Verdi. It is a bit disappointing that the young composer was given so little material of dramatic quality to work with in this opera. The libretto provided was virtually handed to him as a fait accompli and does little more than stitch together the number of arias required. It harkens back to the operas of the early 18th century with too many characters with too little to do but stand (or sit) and sing. As written, this opera is certainly too long for modern tastes, even with the several cuts taken here; this set times in at over 3 hours.

This 2006 production from the Zurich Opera House has been reviewed previously in Fanfare , the DVD version by Christopher Williams in issue 31:1 and the Blu-ray disc by James Reel in issue 33:3. This new Blu-ray release on the Arthaus Musik label is part of their ongoing rebranding of TDK discs, a label whose library Arthaus acquired in 2008. Since the two previous reviews are available to subscribers online in the Fanfare Archive, I won’t go into a lot of detail here. In summary, this set is musically very strong, with a fine-singing Mozartian cast, and a strong performance from the orchestra pit on period instruments led by Nicolaus Harnoncourt. Stage director Tobias Moretti has done the work little harm by updating it to modern times and setting it in the courtyard of a modern villa. If Moretti does not really successfully solve the problem of too many arias and too little action, he is certainly not alone in that regard. Here, the director gives us entirely too much make-busy stage business, usually reserved for the chorus, but in this production foisted with a vengeance on the principal singers (there is no chorus). The bits are seemingly never-ending and none really very funny. They include large sticks strewn about the stage floor which everyone must trip over, a fake little doggie carried by the bride-to-be, Arminda, and three large beds of cacti apparently being cultivated in the garden. In fact, the Count sings his first aria to one of the pulled-up cacti and then kisses it at the conclusion, certainly a bit of inspired theater. All of that in just the first few minutes!

Williams suggests in his earlier review that it would be an impossibility to play the opera “straight,” but that is exactly what the Drottningholm forces, led by conductor Arnold Ostman, do on a competing Kultur video recorded in 1988. If they do not entirely relieve the boredom either, the small, baroque-age theater is charming, and it is fun to see what the opera might have looked like in Mozart’s own time. Drottningholm also has a fine singing ensemble cast, but the better-known Zurich singers are generally stronger. There are two other available video sets for this little-performed opera, both recorded in the Mozart 250th birthday year of 2006, neither of which I have seen. The production on DG is one of the ill-starred M-22 series from the 2006 summer Salzburg Festival where all of Mozart’s operas were performed. I say ill-starred because many of the productions featured quite bizarre stagings and few of the DVDs have received much critical acclaim. I cannot say that is the case here, but it takes place in the garden section of a Home Depot type store, so you are duly forewarned. The other set from Stuttgart I have no information on, other than it features little-known singers. Arthaus’s rebranding usually involves very little change to the previous TDK products, which were usually of high quality. At least here they have sent the rebranded disc in for review; such was not the case in two other instances of my own experience. The booklet features cast listing, tracking points, and the same brief essay by director Moretti as found in the TDK booklet in multiple languages.

La finta giardiniera is a somewhat flawed opera buffa lacking either much humor or dramatic tension, but with a very good score by a young, budding musical genius. Both sets I have seen are cut, I don’t believe you would want to sit through an uncut one. The singing from the Zurich house sounds a bit recessed in spots, but has the advantage of across the board fine singers and gorgeous high definition video. Recommended.

FANFARE: Bill White    
Read less

Works on This Recording

La finta giardiniera, K 196 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Liliana Nikiteanu (Soprano), Isabel Rey (Soprano), Christoph Strehl (Tenor),
Rudolf Schasching (Tenor), Julia Kleiter (Soprano), Eva Mei (Soprano),
Gabriel Bermudez (Baritone)
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich La Scintilla Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1775; Munich, Germany 

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