* Notes *
De Munt has revived a production of La Finta Giardiniera from the National Theatre, Prague, but based on one originally from De Munt that premiered in 1986. Directed by Karl-Ernst Herrmann and Ursel Herrmann, the production featured a little person, one Mireille Mossé, who seemed to be the ringmaster of this circus of an opera. She gave monologues in German before each act, some silent commentary throughout the scenes, and seemed to direct the rather absurd plot, which worked well. It made the motivations of the characters clearer. Given that there are 7 principal singers, and over 3.5 hours of music, any insight was welcome. The set consisted of a grove of trees upstage, a narrow pond downstage, and a strip of stage around the orchestra pit. From the front orchestra level, it almost felt as if the audience was in the performance.
John Nelson conducted De Munt's orchestra, which sounded jaunty and spirited. All the principals suited their roles, both vocally and dramatically. Adam Plachetka was strong as Roberto (Nardo). Katerina Knežíková was funny as Serpetta, her voice bird-like and pleasant. Stella Doufexis was a boyish Ramiro, clear voiced and beautifully icy. On the other hand, it took me a bit to warm up to Henriette Bonde-Hansen (Arminda). Perhaps I was overwhelmed by her cow print ensemble, complete with hat and purse. Her first aria was fine though a little dull, but her second aria was impetuous and had more fire. Jeffrey Francis (Podestà) acted convincingly, but his voice was a bit underpowered. Jeremy Ovenden sounded both warm and sweet as Belfiore, and his comic timing was precise. In the title role, Sandrine Piau impressed. Her singing was delightful, rich but with the appropriate lightness and grace for Mozart.
* Tattling *
There was light whispering, especially for the first overture. The audience attrition for this 4 hour and 15 minute performance was marked.