Stories of Mozart’s precocious musical talent are well known, forming an integral part of our understanding of this legendary composer. However, while many listeners will be familiar with early works like the Pieces and Minuets for piano, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the charming opera buffa La finta semplice, composed by the 12-year-old Mozart in 1769 at the suggestion of Emperor Joseph II. The work gives an incomparable insight into Mozart’s development as an operatic composer, and listeners of this splendid recording will be rewarded by the outstanding quality of the music and interpretation.
The libretto of La finta semplice spins a tale of love and deception centred around a crafty scheme concocted by Captain Fracasso, who must gain the approval of his host Don Cassandro before he can marry Giacinta, Cassandro’s sister. To soften his host, Fracasso introduces him to his own sister, Rosina, the ‘pretend simpleton’ of the opera’s title, and the plot follows a series of witty twists and turns, all given ample expression in the delightful score.
One of only a few recordings available, and one that has consistently drawn critical praise for the quality of its performances and interpretation, this addition to the Brilliant Classics Opera Collection will prove fascinating listening for any fans of Mozart’s mature operas, the seeds of which are evident here. Full of light, elegant arias, skilfully-crafted ensembles and amusing comic numbers, this is an opera of character and instant melodic appeal, which demonstrates the young composer’s remarkably assured understanding of how to use the orchestra to great dramatic effect.
- New addition to the Brilliant Opera Collection, recorded in 1983 in the Mozarteum, Salzburg.
- "Helen Donath is a delight in the title role, pretty in the light numbers, gently moving in the serious ones, and always ready with a musicianly touch of phrasing. Teresa Berganza, of course, brings distinction of tone and line to Giacinta's music. Anthony Rolfe Johnson is characteristically graceful as Polidoro, and an impeccable stylist" (Gramophone).