La Finta Giardiniera, Glyndebourne, opera review: 'Emerges with irresistible charm'
The action is allowed to float free of time and place
Monday 30 June 2014
It’s taken Glyndebourne eighty years to get round to doing La Finta Giardiniera, the rarely-performed dramma giocoso Mozart wrote when he was eighteen.
The plot, punctuated by faints and fits of madness, may be impossible to take seriously, but, with director Frederic Wake-Walker at the controls and Robin Ticciati catching the idiom in the pit, it emerges with irresistible charm.
Wake-Walker’s decision to set it in the crumbling ruin of a Baroque German pleasure-dome (exquisitely lit by Lucy Carter) allows the action to float free of time and place; the semi-deranged characters are all looking for love.
Mozart’s dramaturgy may still have been unsure, but his musical genius was fully-fledged: many of the arias and orchestral effects are worthy of Cosi, as this talented and predominantly young cast demonstrate (their one senior member, Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke, predictably mines his character, the Mayor, for broad comedy).
Nicole Heaston presents Arminda as a coloratura-wielding dominatrix, while Rachel Frenkel’s cross-dressed Ramiro evinces bruised nobility; Christiane Karg’s Sandrina has a fullness of tone which nicely offsets the restrained grace of Joel Prieto’s singing as Belfiore; Joelle Harvey creates some arrestingly beautiful moments as the servant Serpetta; hit by a throat infection, Gyula Orendt (Nardo) had to mime on the first night, but a coruscating offstage performance by his cover Gavan Ring deservedly stole the show.
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