Mozart 22: Season 1, Episode 7

Irrfahrten I: La finta semplice (2007)

TV Episode  -   -  Musical
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Episode credited cast:
Malin Hartelius ...
Marina Comparato ...
Matthias Klink ...
Don Polidoro
Jeremy Ovenden ...
Miljenko Turk ...
Josef Wagner ...
Don Cassandro
Marianne Hamre ...
Die dunkle Rosina
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Michael Hofstetter ...
Himself - Conducted by
Camerata Salzburg ...
Themselves - Orchestra


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2007 (Austria)  »

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La finta semplice
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
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Seventy deadly sins
16 October 2009 | by (Birmingham, England) – See all my reviews

Salzburg is currently doing all of Mozart's operas and opera fragments so, inevitably, the time came when they had to do La Finta Semplice written by Mozart when he was 12 years old. I have never seen this opera before but, being an opera seria, it presumably has acres of boring recitative between the solo arias. Salzburg choose to remove the recitatives altogether and replace them with a women in a yellow ski suit who tells you the story and moves the singers around the stage. This does not really work and the audience never really gets to grips with the complicated plot, based on a comedy by Carlo Goldoni. Apart from Ski Lady, the rest of the cast wear white, judo suits for the four men and unbecoming tulip-shaped dresses for the women. This makes the plot even more impenetrable since the characters seem more or less interchangeable. Modern sopranos and mezzos tend to be slim and attractive but the tulip dresses do them no favours in this production since it looks as though their buttocks have separate postcodes.

The overall effect is very alienating, as though we are watching a production of Così Fan Tutte rewritten by Bertold Brecht. The alienation is probably quite deliberate: short dumpy dark-haired Rosina stands before us as Ski Lady describes her as tall, slim and blonde. In fact there are two Rosinas, echoing Brecht and Weill's Seven Deadly Sins with a singing Rosina and a dancing Rosina.

It is difficult to judge the quality of Mozart's music given this setting. It is pleasantly tuneful but it does not seem to have any of the brilliance of his mature operatic works. There are occasional hints of what was to come, particularly in the arias of Rosina, the Finta Semplice. The best of these is Amoretti, a song to cupid's messengers. Sadly, while singing Rosina is performing this aria, dancing Rosina is getting her kit off so it is difficult to concentrate on the music.

Director Joachim Schlömer leaves no cliché unturned. All the characters carry around suitcases to indicate emotional baggage. I haven't seen that done since, oh, last week at a production of Ionesco's Macbett in Stratford and before that in a production of Das Rheingold at Bayreuth. As the action progresses, the white costumes start to turn red, a shoe here a glove there. I first saw this effect in a Martha Graham ballet and more recently in a production of Le Nozze di Figaro.

Singing Rosina is excellently sung by Malin Hartelius. I shall not mention the names of any of the other performers; I fear that they have suffered enough.

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