Nikolaus Harnoncourt presents his reading of “La Finta giardiniera”, a long-forgotten wonderfully tragicomic opera by the young Mozart. Almost a quarter of a century ago Harnoncourt presented his reading of the rediscovered work on CD, but in this version from the Zurich Opera, the great Mozart magician conducted a staged production for the first time, making the premiere an event in itself.
Mozart’s charming opera tells the story of a Countess who disguises herself as a gardener in order to find and forgive her lover, who thinks he has killed her in a quarrel. The score is one of real musical delights with uncommonly rich and full orchestration and prominent parts for wind in particular. Arnold Östman conducts this Göran Järvefelt production in which the countes is played by Britt-Marie Aruhn.
In Spring 2014 Emanuelle Haïm conducted her orchestra Le Concert d'Astrée and a carefully-chosen cast in La finta giardiniera, staged by the French director David Lescot, in the cities of Lille and Dijon; the production was described by the French newspaper La Croix as “three hours of pure happiness”.
La finta giardiniera was a resounding success: after the first performance 1774 in Rome, the opera was translated into several languages and staged in many other European cities and inspired Mozart to write an opera of the same title. This world premiere recording by the ensemble l'arte del mondo shows the exceptional skills of this little-known composer. The Spanish Catalan soprano Nuria Rial is famous for her shining, crystal clear and beautiful voice and is one of the best baroque voices for baroque arias. She was described as "a silvery sounding voice, as clear as a bell." (Opernglas) The orchestra l'arte del mondo is rooted in the Early Music tradition, but also plays on modern instruments with the same passion, performing repertoire that goes up to the Romantic period. Since it was founded, the ensemble has been invited to appear at many major festivals and concert series such as the Ludwigsburg Schlossfestspiele, the Bonn Beethoven Festival, the Schwetzingen Festival and the Sanssouci Music Festival in Potsdam.
Gaetano Latilla (1711-88) is pretty much a footnote, but after its premiere in 1738, this opera, La finta cameriera, was performed at one time or another throughout Europe for the next 20 years. It consists of 44 arias and acres of recitative (indeed, the Parisians objected to all the chatter in 1752). I normally hate these 18th century “intermezzo” operas about people disguised as either the lower classes or their own brothers, particularly because in between the acres of recitative there usually are simple-to-sing, “flavorful” arias. This work, however, is different: many of the arias are very showy and difficult, and require true virtuoso singing.
To commemorate the bicentenary of the death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (December 5, 1791) Philips Classics Records assembled The Complete Mozart Edition comprising 180 compact discs arranged into 45 themed volumes. Each volume in the series is accompanied by a deluxe booklet with detailed information about the works, with many illustrations.