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The beauty and power of this music is beyond belief. And we are immensely lucky to be able to appreciate it with some of the best singers around.
Although it is labeled opera buffa, as usual with Mozart, his music transcends the labeling, and could be as well considered worthy of an opera seria. At times, you simply don't know if you're listening to La Finta Giardiniera or Idomeneo. The style is grand and heroic and ravishing from beginning to end.
All the voices are immensely attractive. Harnoncourt does a fabulous job of bringing the best out of his first-class singers and out of this extraordinary score.
- Charlotte Margiono (Arminda) singing the No. 13 aria "Vorrei punirti indegno" makes shivers going down your spine.
- Edita Gruberova, a superlative coloratura, gives Sandrina her inherent elegant aristocracy.
- Thomas Moser is a convincing Podesta.
- While Uwe Heilman brings out the dopy character of Contino Belfiore.
- It is a pleasure to hear again a bass voice in Mozart with Anton Scharinger as the not-so-dumb Nardo.
- The other two sopranos, Monica Bacelli as the sadly tragic Ramiro, and Dawn Upshaw as the unavoidably malicious and impish Serpetta, are unfailingly beautiful.
I cannot tire of listening and relistening to this unique opera without end.
I completely agree with Abel "AMY" that this 1775 opera, produced when Mozart was 19, ranks -- in terms of the intensity matching of fun and excitement experienced by the opera-goer at the live 1988 Arnold Östman staging in Drottningholm, or the 2006 Harnoncourt production at the Zurich opera house -- on a par with the famous operas of the last five years, 1786-1791.
Back at their desks, scholars and reviewers will point out this and that, repeating the old clichés, and that it is not yet "Le Nozze" etc.. So what? There's more to Mozart than just "Le Nozze". Try Bastien und Bastienne for a change. God sei Dank that we don't have to listen to "Le Nozze" all the time. We are lucky to have all those Mozart operas before and after "Le Nozze".
All those reflective clichés are intellectual inferences, resorting to memory for critical comparisons. But they do not, in any way, affect the immediate, spontaneous, intense pleasure experienced when viewing the vastly amusing performance in the delightful 1988 Drottningholm DVD, or listening to the magnificent music of 1991 Harnoncourt in Vienna .
The two evaluations belong to two different modes or functions of brain activity -- hot-blooded, vividly immediate impressions in real life versus cold ratiocinations of desk reflection -- as in Goethe's Faust.
It is beyond belief that a 19-year old teenager could produce such magnificent entrancing music. It does make you seriously believe that Mozart was a miracle in the human species.
With a recording of this superlative quality, La Finta Giardiniera should become better known and open the door to a revaluation and reappraisal of all these Mozart "Early Italian operas", which are unfairly neglected and ignored, but are all in fact shining musical jewels.
ROO.BOOKAROO, Jan. 20, 2010
ADDITION, July 12, 2014 (with quotes from Hermann Abert's monumental "W.A. MOZART" (1919, transl. 2007)
"LA FINTA GIARDINIERA" OFFERS A COMPLEX PLOT, RICH IN DRAMATIC SURPRISES
The libretto is a marvelous classic, as it practically incorporates most of the essential features and ingredients of traditional opera buffa up to the time of Mozart.
The story is a non-stop series of surprises, highly dramatic, and, when well acted, extremely entertaining.
- A murder attempt: Count Belfiore ("Contino") has previously stabbed Marquise Violante Onesti in a fit of jealousy and has fled, leaving her for dead.
- The action revolves around the faithfulnees and loyalty of Violante: she goes around looking for her past lover, under the name of "Sandrina". She rejects other advances, especially that of her new employer, the mayor "Podesta".
- This is a game of false indentities: Violante wants to remain incognito and deceive under her disguise of Sandrina, the garden-girl, accompanied by her servant, "Nardo".
- There is a thwarted marriage: between society figure "Arminda", Podesta's niece, and the stranger, Count Belfiore ("Contino"). This society wedding is the central focus of the action at the start of the opera.
- There's a pre-trial instruction scene: Belfiore, accused of murder, must answer questions from Podesta before any marriage can take place.
- There is violence and kidnapping: Sandrina is abducted by Arminda and abandoned in a wild forest full of strange beasts.
- There are mad scenes of total confusion: All the characters go on the search for Sandrina in the dark forest, and form pairs under mistaken beliefs of identity.
- There's also authentic madness: Both Sandrina and Belfiore are overwhelmed by the complexity of their fates and lose their minds.
- There's general reconciliation and final happiness, except for Podesta.
The engine of the action is three love relationships that extend into triangles
All feelings are involved: love, jealousy, faithfulness, forgiveness, pardon, reconciliation, class superiority, social hierarchies, astonishment, madness, mismatched pairings, joy and ecstacy.
Mozart has to give expression to all the feelings and frame the series of irrational events in brilliant music that lasts more than 3h 15'. He succeeds unfailingly.
A FUN STORY
As in good opera buffa, the libretto unfolds an incredible, succession of extraordinary surprises, beyond all common sense and rationality, each one amazing and amusing. All is happening at fast pace, keeping the action on a high pitch. The text is full of humor and irony. It is a farce of the highest style, a masterpiece of the genre. All the scenes are interesting, the text often hilarious, and never taken seriously.
Mozart must have been delighted with this libretto. It provides a marvelous opportunity for the musician to express a wide range of emotions mixing the dramatic and the comic. The lightness of the writer's touch allows Mozart to use the speed and energy of his syncopated music to best effect, combined with touches of the grandiose style, a mastery he had just demonstrated in his brilliant opera serias such as Mitridate and Lucio Silla.
The libretto is inspired by Goldoni's and Piccinni's La buona figliuola (1760), an example of the comedie larmoyante focused on feminine sensibility made fashionable by Samuel Richardson's European best seller, Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded (1740). A humble, virtuous, young woman goes through hardships, harassments, and temptations, only to be, at the end of her adventures, revealed to be an aristocrat. In both Piccinni's and Mozart's libretti, the virtuous lady is disguised ("finta") as a gardener ("giardiniera").
But the "poet" of the libretto, Petrosellini, added a series of sensational, even insane, surprises to graft the old buffa style on the new genre of sentimental comedy. The comic absurdity of the events and mistaken identities is taken in stride for the sheer fun of it, as it will also in Cosi fan tutte. It is, at bottom, no more absurd or ridicule than the fairy-tale plots that defy common sense in The Magic Flute or Puccini's Turandot.
Pasquale Anfossi had set the same libretto just a year before, 1774, in a classical buffa style with sharply defined characters. Mozart changed the coloration of the piece by making his characters more complex in psychology, and the action more dramatic.
NUMBERS & ARIAS
4 ensembles No. 1, No. 12, No. 23, No. 28, one at the beginning, and another at the end of each act, including the final chorus to end the opera.
1 1/2 duets No. 24b, No. 27, both between the lovers Sandrina/Contino
22 1/2 arias for 7 characters
Sandrina - 5 arias - No. 4, No. 11, No. 16, No. 21, No. 22 ("mezzo carattere", mi-buffa, mi-seria)
Contino - 4 arias - No. 6, No. 8, No. 15, No. 19 ("mezzo carattere")
Ramiro - 3 arias - No. 2, No. 18, No. 26 ("seria")
Podesta - 3 arias - No. 3, No. 17, No. 25 ("buffa")
Nardo - 3 arias - No. 5, No. 9b, No. 14, No. 24a ("buffa")
Serpetta - 2 ½ arias - No. 9a, No. 10, No. 20 ("buffa")
Arminda - 2 arias - No. 7, No. 13 (("mezzo carattere")
Sandrina has the lion's share of the singing. She gets 5 arias, and shares the 2 duets with the Contino. The Contino has 4 arias, and is the other part in the 2 duets. Ramiro, Nardo, Podesta, have each 3 arias. Serpetta has 2 ½ arias, and Arminda is given only 2 arias. But she sings the most grandiose of them all, No. 13.
In addition there are four ensembles. Those ending Act I and II are particularly long: 15' and 16' respectively. Which is where Mozart displays his extraordinary talent for choreographing the mingling and intertwining music for 7 singers accompanied by a rich invention of orchestral themes and interjections.
No. 1: Ensemble "Che lieto giorno" (Sandrina, Serpetta, Ramiro, Il Podesta, Nardo)
What a lovely day!
[The initial ensemble is sung by only 5 of the 7 characters -- keeping Contino and Arminda in reserve for their grand entrance. Each sings one aria in turn, until all 5 are presented individually.
Ramiro is unhappy as his love for Arminda is not returned. Podesta rejoices that Sandrina will marry him. Sandrina is miserable, and will remain so until the end. Nardo resents Serpette for her indifference. Serpetta resents the arrival of Sandrina and Nardo, and laments Podesta's infatuation with Sandrina, concluding that all men are false. Podesta rejoices for the wedding of his niece Arminda with high nobility.
This becomes an excellent introduction to the plot. "Mozart moves with great assurance and with an unmistakable sense of dramatic purpose", even if the characters are presented one by one, rather than in the spirited ensemble that Mozart can already muster, and will later prefer. ]
No. 2: Aria "Se l'augellin sen fugge" (Ramiro)
[Podesta has consoled Ramiro that, if Arminda does not love him anymore, nothing to worry, he will find another woman.]
Like a bird who has escaped from the cage, and cannot be returning, the idea of another capture terrifies me.
[Sentimental unhappy lovers are "figures of fun" in buffa. For Mozart, the role of Ramiro is "entirely serious", who even becomes agitated when he fears "l'idea d'un altro laccio/Ah che tremar mi fa" (The idea of another trap/How it makes me tremble.)]
No. 3: Aria "Dentro il mio petto io sento" (Il Podesta)
[Podesta has fallen in love with his beautiful new garden-girl, the "finta giardiniera", and decides he wants to marry her. He wants to declare his love to her, but Serpetta keeps interfering.]
My heart is hearing an orchestra playing. First, the sweetness of flutes and oboes. Then the strings which start troubling the atmosphere. Finally the winds and drums bring me to despair.
[A classic buffa trick: At each mention of an instrument, the same one in the orchestra responds to him. Podesta is a true buffo part, usually a bass, as Don Cassandro was in "Le Finta Semplice". Here he becomes a tenor.]
No. 4: Aria "Noi donne poverine" (Sandrina)
[She's reminded her servant Nardo of her plight: The previous year, her lover Contino Belfiore had stabbed her in a jealous fit, and fled, leaving her for dead. Her only desire is to find him again. She does not want the troubles and unrequited attentions of a new lover like Podesta, and prefers to go away.]
We, sad women, are subjected to mens' tormenting advances.
No. 5: Aria "A forza di martelli" (Nardo)
[He complains about his predicament. He is trying to win Serpetta's affections, but but she avoids him and averts his gaze. Her heart is harder than iron or stone.]
The force of hammers can forge iron, chisels can carve marble. But nothing can tame the heart of a woman. Men are fools to chase women, they play games.
[Nardo's first aria. He has a mixed role. On one hand, he is "the infatuated simpleton who pursues Serpetta in spite of all the rebuffs." But he also has a genuine side betraying "real spirit".]
No. 6: Aria "Che belta, che leggiadria" (Il Contino)
[Contino has arrived in a carriage in preparation for his wedding to Arminda. He is a "generous cavalier, always in thrall to more than one woman at once. As a perfect gentleman, he begins by praising Arminda's beauty."]
What beauty, what charm. You are the sun, and your rays make me stagger.
[This entry is not very comic. Belfiore "strikes a note of manly ardour that occasionally anticipates Belmonte" in "Entführung."]
No. 7: Aria "Si promette facilmente" (Arminda)
[Arminda is not easily convinced or duped.]
Promises are too easy nowadays, that men talk simple women into swallowing to make them say "yes". But I am not of the same kind, I want clear agreements before saying "yes". Everything has to be all right. Contino, you are my life, my expectations. But should you cheat, as is the current custom, I will wreak vengeance with my own hands.
[Her first aria does not give her a contrasted characterization. She is "as agitated as she is cunning", and, although an aristocrat, "lapses into the tone of an artful chambermaid", halfway between seria and buffa.]
No. 8: Aria "Da Scirocco a Tramontana" (Contino)
[To Podesta, Contino vaunts his own beauty, his merits, his military prowess, but he's become a prisoner of Armida's beauty. He's left all his grand world for her. Podesta laughs at this.]
From the south to the north, I have grand estates, my grand lineage goes back to Roman consuls and emperors.
[This is a real buffo motif: boasting of his grand "aristocratic accomplishments told with pompous conceit."
No. 9a: Cavatina "Un marito, oh Dio,vorrei" (Serpetta)
[She is unhappy, harassed by Arminda's demands. She wants to avoid the sighs of Nardo]
I would want a husband who's loving, but not an aging one.
[Serpetta is another authentic buffa part. "Like the rest of her kind, Serpetta is an out-and-out egoist, malicious, and spiteful, aiming her sights at Podesta, like Serpina in the intermezzo "La Serva Padrona" by Giovanni Pergolesi (Naples, 1733).]
No. 9b: Cavatina "Un marito, oh Dio, vorresti" (Nardo)
[Nardo answers Serpetta in the same style.]
You would want a loving husband. But a young one would not be right for you.
No. 10: Aria "Appena mi vedon" (Serpetta)
[She's told Nardo again that she has no feelings for him, but he does not get the message. See, she has no problem finding lovers.]
As soon as men see me, they flock to me, admiring my charms, and swearing eternal love. I play the modest one, answer nothing, and let them go by.
[Serpetta's charming second aria. She professes her policy of disguising her true character, and presenting only a "charming, mischievous exterior."]
No. 11: Cavatina 'Geme La Tortorella' (Sandrina)
[The orchestra describes the dove's cooing in "a moving and genuinely Mozartian mixture of charm and melancholy."]
The turtle dove sighs when away from her mate, she laments and hopes to excite pity.
No. 12: Finale of Act I 'Numi! Che Incanto E Questo' (Contino, Sandrina, Arminda, Ramiro, Podesta, Serpetta, Nardo) 15' 09"
[Arminda announces to Sandrina that today she is marrying the Contino. Sandrina, in shock, faints. The Contino arrives and proposes to help.]
Gods, what magic is this?
[Complex action follows in multiple sections.]
Contino, in "an impassioned accompagnato", approaches Sandrina and recognizes her features, her voice. Sandrina recovers, sees the Contino, and recognizes him. "A motif of whimpering fear" is mixed with "hurried interjections".
Ramiro enters with Arminda and presses his suit. Both couples are confused. Each character expresses his/her emotional crisis, all starting "with the same melodic line", ending with a 4-voice ensemble "with words broken up by rests" while "the oboes intone a sustained lament."
Podesta now enters "to the emotionally charged sound of the horns" and asks for an explanation. They answer in a chorus. Podesta is left alone, wondering and raging, "Che tratto e questo", what's going on?
He is stopped by Serpetta who fuels his jealousy by telling him that the "giardiniera" is making love with the Count in the garden. Nardo warns Podesta that Serpetta is lying.
Sandrina reproaches his cruelty to Contino, who kneels asking for her pardon. But Sandrina claims that she is only repeating what Violante said before dying, and tries to convince Contino that she is not his former lover. As Contino is kneeling to Sandrina, he is discovered by all.
Arminda, "in an ironical outburst", is angry at the fecklessness of her intended spouse. Ramiro eggs her on. Contino is at a loss, torn between his two loves. They all express together their irony, anger, fury, or, for Serpetta and Nardo, their secret satisfaction, at the duplicity of the count and Sandrina.
[Abert, always stingy with his praise, notes that this finale, in one section, "is a masterpiece of characterization and of gripping tension" and of orchestral expression. "Only rarely did Italian composers produce anything as good as this."]
No. 13: Aria 'Vorrei Punirti Indegno' (Arminda)
[Contino has expressed his predicament. Since he's spotted Violante's features in Sandrina, he is desperate and wants to find her back. Arminda has noticed his agitation, and explodes in a fit of high-flown anger at his betraying her on their wedding day.]
I want to punish you, unworthy man, I want to tear you heart out, but my love holds me back. I feel both anger and compassion for you.
[Arminda's second aria, "she is entirely the offended aristocrat thirsting for vengeance." Not a trace of parody. It is a grand aria, fit for the most majestic opera seria. "It is a typically Mozartian G minor movement in all its bitter passion, seething with disquiet," compounded with Mozart's own sense of seriousness. In expressions of anger and fury, Mozart easily reaches the most sublime heights of passion.]
No. 14: Aria 'Con Un Vezzo All' Italiana' (Nardo)
[Nardo keeps pursuing Serpetta. She tells him to back off. But she may have nicer feelings if he sings her a passionate love song that could impress her.]
In the sweet Italian style, I say that you set my heart on fire, then I'll say it in French style, then in English style, but nothing pleases Serpetta.
[Nardo's second aria shows him as being more than a stupid buffo servant.]
No. 15: Aria 'Care Pupille' (Contino)
[Contino is persuaded that Sandrina is Violante. She tries to dissuade him by pretending she knows the story from Violante who has died and told her about his murderous behavior. Contino is transfixed by the resemblance.]
Dear beautiful eyes, look at me [but Serpetta refuses, and motions him to leave] Before leaving, I'd love to kiss your hand, as a sign of his love.
[But the Podesta, unobserved, has stepped to Sandrina's side, and Contino, kisses his hand instead.]
Disaster, this is my bad luck.
["The vain fop reverts to his former role as a lover." He shows "far greater sincerity than towards Arminda...in an aria full of real emotional depth". The comic ending results from the acting on stage.]
No. 16: Aria 'Una Voce Sento Al Core' (Sandrina)
[Podesta renews his pursuit, confesses his love, and asks Sandrina to go with him. She does not want to, "Perche non voglio". Podesta is indignant, she is just a lowly servant. She resents his lack of respect for her feelings. She begs him to forgive her flight of temper.]
I hear a voice in my heart telling me that, behind you scornful mien, Podesta is full of compassion for me. But you rudeness hurts me. Young women who hear my plea should try to console me.
[The second section of her unhappiness "strikes a profoundly tragic note" with no intention of parody, "a sudden outburst of heightened emotion...meant to be taken seriously.]
No. 17: Aria 'Una Damina, Una Nipote' (Podesta)
[Arminda still wants to marry Contino. Ramiro announces the receipt of an order to pass on to Podesta for the arrest of Contino Belfiore who is accused of murder. Ramiro is secretly delighted. Podesta postpones the wedding, since, if Contino is guilty, Podesta does not want him to marry his niece.]
This young lady, my niece, with beauty and standing, I cannot plunge her into misfortune. My good name would be ridiculed by all in Germany, in France, Spain. Don't even think of it. This will not happen.
[Podesta's second aria. He sings the affront to his social status and dignity.]
No. 18: Aria 'Dolce D'Amor Compagna Speranza' (Ramiro)
[He tries to engage Arminda in sweet talk, but she cuts him short. She is burning with contempt for him.]
Sweet companion of love, flattering hope is giving me strength and comfort, and sustains my life.
[Ramiro's second aria expresses "the tenderness typical of all such lyrical youths", with a coloratura flourish that does not belong to buffa.]
No. 19: Recitativo 'Ah non partir...m'ascolta' and No. 19 aria `Gia divento freddo, freddo' (Contino)
[Contino arrives for the wedding. He is questioned by Podesta, and accused of murder. Contino blabbers, it was love, jealousy, an accident. Arminda is disgusted by his idiocy. The rapid-fire interrogation animates this secco recitative and the play of the orchestra's basses.
It is Sandrina who saves him by revealing she is marquise Violante, to everyone's stupefaction.
Podesta leaves, in despair at losing his Sandrina. Arminda also leaves, to prepare her revenge.
Contino, in his joy, wants to kiss Sandrina's hand. But Sandrina defuses Contino's enthusiasm by claiming she used her resemblance by pretending to be Violante only to save him. He should run to his great love, Arminda.]
Ah do not leave...listen to me. She rejects me, the earth is moving, a fog engulfs me. Is this a storm? Is it day or night? Do you want me to die? Are you crying? What for? Lightning is striking. Only heaven can save me. All should weep, I am dying. A mortal cold is invading me. But wait, I feel a light breeze, I can see the sun shining, I am still alive, and joy and hope are revived.
[Mad characters in "buffa" are comic figures used to parody "seria". Mozart starts with an "emphatically tragic note" in the recitative, but the orchestra teeming with "motifs constantly and importunately changing, betrays a sense of parody" accentuated by thunder and lightning on the stage. Contino ends with a "homely expression to the joy felt at recovering from madness" which "incorporates buffa elements."]
No. 20: Aria 'Chi Vuol Godere Il Mondo' (Serpetta)
[Nardo cannot find Sandrina. Serpetta announces Sandrina is gone. Podesta orders a search to be launched, even though it's already night. Serpetta reveals that Sandrina has been abducted by Arminda and abandoned in a dark forest full of ravenous beasts, where perhaps a hungry wolf will devour her. Serpetta is sorry, but Sandrina did ask for it. Serpetta must be political, hide her feelings and use pretense in playing the game of love.]
Who wants to enjoy the world must take it as it comes. A girl should be sincere and gay, but it's of no use with men today. Better be shy and indifferent, and make them wait. This is the lesson my mother taught me.
[Serpetta's third and last aria, continuing with exposing her policy of being "political", and the need to project feigned feelings and use secrecy if a poor girl is to reach her goals.]
No. 21: Aria 'Crudeli, oh Dio! Fermate' (Sandrina)
[Obscure silhouettes are seen disappearing in a deserted place, after Sandrina has been left in a grotto.]
Oh God! Stop, you cruel people. You have abandoned and left me all alone among those rocks.
[Mozart resorts to classical opera seria, with an "emotionally charged lamento scene" "with a wildly impassioned motif in the violins". In the "agitated turmoil in the orchestra" the voice is "confined to declamatory phrases," expressing "the indignant despair of a tragic heroine, with the desire for vengeance." Sandrina "suddenly grows in stature and becomes a heroine in the grand tradition."]
No. 22: Cavatina 'Ah dal Pianto, dal Singhiozzo' (Sandrina)
Ah, with my crying and sighing, I can barely breathe. My grief is overwhelming, my spirit is fading.
[Same sense of "disquiet in the orchestra, declamatory writing in the vocal line, and heightened emotion." Sandrina "descends into a state of utter hopelessness." The "sustained note of seriousness" leaves the world of opera buffa. The part was written for Rosa Manservici, an actress/singer of high repute."]
No. 23: Finale of Act II 'Fra Quest' Ombre, O Questo Scuro' (Contino, Sandrina, Arminda, Ramiro, Podesta, Serpetta, Nardo) 16' 16"
[In the darkness of the forest, everybody appears: First Nardo and Contino, then Arminda checking on Contino, then Podesta and Serpetta, and finally Ramiro, each with different intents. They all hear indistinct noises.]
In these shadows, in this darkness...
[Complex action ensues in long sections during the lengthy ensemble, with pairings of mistaken identities in the dark forest.]
Podesta grabs Arminda, believing her to be Sandrina, while Arminda believes him to be Contino.
Contino grabs Serpetta, believing her to be Sandrina, while Serpetta believes him to be Podesta.
Nardo finds Sandrina and recognizes her, as Sandrina also recognizes him, and believes herself saved.
The confusion continues, until Ramiro and a group of torches arrives.
Ramiro enjoys the moment. They all recognize their errors.
Arminda rages at Contino; Podesta rages at Sandrina; Nardo and Serpetta continue their jousting; Ramiro and Arminda continue their quarreling.
Sandrina and Contino, bewildered, slide into a gentle delirium, she fancying to be Cloris, he Orfeo.
Podesta demands a duel of pistols with Contino, Ramiro a duel with swords.
Sandrina becomes Medusa, Contino Alcides.
The others are dumbfounded by the spectacle of the couple lost in their mad happiness.
[Mozart lets the orchestra "depict the strangeness of the situation" in the forest, "with declamatory writing for the voices". This "captures" the "frightening noises", the "timid whisperings", the "tiptoeing to and fro", while "the skipping basses and chuckling woodwinds ensure that the situation does not become too serious."]
No. 24a: Aria 'Mirate Che Contrasto' (Nardo)
[Serpetta repeats to Nardo she does not want him. Contino arrives, taking Nardo for his beloved. Then Sandrina stops him, taking him for her spouse. Nardo tries to distract them both.]
Look at the contrast between the sun and moon. And the lovesick stars. And then their duel, their wrestling.
[Nardo's last aria is accompanied by "an increasingley agitated" orchestra. His sense of ridicule "already anticipates Leporello's elogquent impishness" in "Don Giovanni"].
No. 24b: Duetto "Da bravi seguitate" (Sandrina, Contino)
[The lovers are still in thrall to madness.]
Carry on, good people. The moon is falling. Help, a storm is breaking out.
[Mozart does not exploit the buffa "grotesque exaggeration" in this "absurd situation". The lovers' first duet is "far too serious" for buffa.]
No. 25: 'Aria 'Mio Padrone, Io Dir Volevo' (Podesta)
[Podesta is harassed, first by Serpetta, who reminds him of his past promises; then by Arminda who wants her Contino; and by Ramiro, who wants Arminda. Podesta can't take it any longer.]
My Lord, I wanted to say to you...Let me speak ("Ma lasciatemi parlar"). Arminda, take your Contino. Ramiro, marry my niece. Don't bother me any more.
[Podesta's third and last aria about his loss of control when "assailed on every side." Note the "extremely flexible and independent writing for the orchestra, which already looks forward to the later composer". It is ironical that, for Abert, he found that Mozart was already being Mozart before he became "Mozart".
The illusion of hindsight strikes most of the previous Mozart scholars before Stanley Sadie.]
No. 26: Aria 'Va Pure Ad Altri In Braccio' (Ramiro)
[Arminda repeats to Ramiro that he cannot hope for anything from a woman who doesn't love him.]
Go then into other arms, but I'll pursue you. I'll die miserably.
[Ramiro's third and last is another grand aria, an "outburst of oddly unbridled anger." It is "a counterpart to Arminda's grandiose aria No. 13, 'Vorrei Punirti Indegno'" but "more vehement and demonic" in expressing the "despair of a fatally wounded heart", never heard before in buffa. Mozart, ever since childhood, is always at his most powerful when depicting anger, rage, vengeance -- his "demonic" side, dixit Abert.]
No. 27: Duetto 'Tu Mi Lasci?' (Sandrina, Contino)
[Sandrina and Contino awake from their sleep, lying apart on a meadow. They sight and recognize each other. She moves to depart.]
Are you leaving me?
[They seem to be leaving on opposite sides, but stop, and, gradually return, slowly getting close together, and admit their love.]
Who can resist love? Joy and happiness in our hearts.
[This is the second lovers' duet in their grand scene, "on a far higher level" than the first, with its classical action of "lovers' mutual recognition, followed by temporary discord, and ultimate reconciliation." The music is exquisitely insightful, catching the fleeting moods, tender or ardent, of the two lovers.]
No. 28: Finale of Act III. Recitative and Coro 'Viva Pur La Giardiniera' (Contino, Sandrina, Arminda, Ramiro, Podesta, Serpetta, Nardo) total 3' 47"
["Scena Ultima" starts with a final ensemble recitative. The madness is over. The lovers reunite, they will marry. Sandrina acknowledges her disguise.
Arminda begs pardon for kidnapping Sandrina.
Podesta gives in, he gives his blessing to Arminda marrying her Ramiro, and to Serpetta her Nardo. Podesta, left alone, will marry when he finds another Sandrina.
Sandrina will always remember his goodness, and remain "la finta giardiniera per amore."
It ends with the traditional advice to the audience to enjoy love.]
Viva pur la Giardiniera...Viva amore/Che fa tutti rallegrar.
(Long live the garden-girl...long live love/Which makes everyone happy.)
IN CONCLUSION: OPERA BUFFA GETS MARRIED TO OPERA SERIA
Mozart shows his superior "dramatic gifts" and "greater mastery" in the ensembles, with "sharply contrasted characters", where "the plot moves quickly, with a lively exchange".
Remarkable also is the "unusual role of tragedy" in this buffa, where "sudden outbursts of authentic passion", with no parody intent, "were inconceivable." Mozart's characters are "suddenly wracked" with passions. The whole opera is no longer a pleasing harmony of tone, as in traditional buffa.
But the mix permits "a wealth of invention and sheer originality." Mozart, by sensitivity and unique temperament, could not "treat deep-seated emotions as a source of ridicule", and tended "to emphasize these emotions with all the demonic ardour of his soul, breaking down the barriers of opera buffa...for the first time in history."
"This is Mozart's first attempt to tear the masks from the faces of his Italian characters and allow them to speak the language of the heart."
The mix of comedy and tragedy shows its seams: they "appear alongside each other, with no inner or outer connection, comedy in the motley of opera buffa, tragedy in the guise of opera seria." The result? A unique, energetic, excitingly beautiful opera, a sure crowd-pleaser.
Abert's final evaluation is amusing for its inveterate Romantic flavor: "La Finta Giardiniera is the work of a young genius driven in a new direction by a dark and irresistibly powerful force." Mozart will find the perfect style to intimately combine comedy and tragedy only once he will have "known life's harsh vicissitudes", when "the goal was to be revealed in all its blinding clarity" (p. 339).
ROO BOOKAROO, July 12, 2014