University of Hartford "H" Magazine - Winter 2019

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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Mozart: La finta giardiniera

07/15/2018 1:00 pm
07/15/2018 4:30 pm


Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

In the eighteenth century the way to wealth and fame as a composer lay through the writing of operas. Mozart the adolescent prodigy was fascinated with opera. He yearned to write anything he could in the genre to advance himself. Previous operas he wrote while sojourning in Italy with his father did not make a lasting mark with the public or with aristocratic patrons.

Mozart jumped at a commission to compose an opera buffa for the midwinter carnival in Munich. This was La finta giardiniera or "The Girl in Gardiner's Disguise," K.196 (1775). The carnivalgoers loved it, but when the festivities were over young Wolfgang did not get the court appointment he was hoping for. The music for La finta giardiniera is as fine as an eighteen year old genius could create. Despite the silly amorous flirtations of the comedy, the musical settings at certain moments touch a depth of feeling that looks forward to the great operas of Mozart's maturity.

"The Girl in Gardiner's Disguise" was first performed in Italian language and later in German translation with spoken dialog, making a Singspiel out of the original opera buffa. I have broadcast two different recordings of the German Singspiel version with the title Die Gärtnerin aus Liebe on Sundays in 1988 and 1990. Then on Sunday, May 12, 2002 came the complete score of the Italian opera buffa as recorded in 1991, live in performance in Vienna at the Konzerthaus. The late great pioneer in period instrumental practice, Nikolaus Harnoncourt was conducting the ensemble he founded, the Concentus Musicus. The Czech soprano Edita Gruberova sang the leading role of Sandrina, the "disguised" girl, who turns out to be a noblewomen. This Sunday you get to hear once again that Teldec release of La finta giardiniera on three compact discs in the Das Alte Werk series.