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La Finta Giardiniera review at Royal Opera House London

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The scheduled director, Christof Loy, having departed after a disagreement with conductor John Eliot Gardiner, the pieces of this production, derived from one staged in Dusseldorf in 1998, were picked up by Loy’s assistant, Annika Haller.

The result is a pretty limp staging, not helped by running Acts II and III of Mozart’s early comedy together, giving us an enormous second act. Premiered in 1775 when the composer was just 18, this early comedy is arguably his most viable stage work written before the seven mature masterpieces. Though the plot – based around the heroine Violante, in flight from her lover Count Belfiore and disguised as a gardener – is complex, much of the score is worthwhile. But the piece needs more detailed acting performances and a more consistent comic tone than it found here.

Herbert Murauer’s commonplace designs move it to the present day, diluting the 18th century class hierarchies that underlie the plot. With his English Baroque Soloists in the pit, Gardiner motivates the piece musically but it’s a long haul.

The cast is variable, with some strong performances helping to maintain interest. Particularly good are the servant pair of Christopher Maltman’s Roberto and Patrizia Biccire’s Serpina and Sophie Koch’s well drawn Ramiro. Robert Murray sings well as Belfiore and Camilla Tilling is a feisty Arminda but I suspect this show was a lost cause even before Loy disappeared.

Production Information

Royal Opera House, London, September 21, 24, 26, 28, October 2, 4, 7

Annika Haller
Royal Opera
Cast includes
Genia Kuhmeier, Camilla Tilling, Sophie Koch, Patrizia Biccire, Robert Murray, Christopher Maltman, Kurt Streit
Running time
3hrs 20mins

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