La finta semplice, Opera by W. A. Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed the opera buffa La finta semplice at the age of 12. Originally part of his father Leopold’s plan to catch the attention and win the favour of Emperor Joseph II, the work fell victim to intrigues and ploys. Its original premiere in Vienna was going to be so fraught with scandal and mud-slinging that Leopold cancelled it and opted for a much smaller-scale inaugural performance in Salzburg in 1769. Due to the many hindrances and bitter fights around it, La finta semplice quickly fell out of the 18th- and 19th-century repertoire, but revivals in the 20th century ensured it would not be forgotten. Teatro Goldoni in Florence picks up this early Mozart classic and demonstrates that even in pre-teen age, the Austrian composer had the makings of a genius.
The plot of La finta semplice, Italian for ‘The Fake Innocent’, derives from an original libretto by Carlo Goldoni, one of the luminaries of commedia dell’arte. Marco Coltellini, a popular court poet in Vienna, produced the final text. The young Mozart swiftly composed a voluminous score spanning over 550 handwritten pages. Saboteurs of the work would later claim the manuscript was Leopold’s and not his prodigy son’s work, but today there is little doubt about the music’s originator. The quality of the melodies and the simple yet instantly appealing orchestration are Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart without any hesitation.
The storyline of La finta semplice takes us back to mid-18th-century Cremona where Hungarian troops under the command of Captain Fracasso and Sergeant Simone have made their camp. The two military men are staying at the home of brothers Cassandro and Polidoro, both self-declared misogynists and highly conservative characters. Fracasso falls in love with their sister Giacinta, while Simone goes for her maid Ninetta. The couples must obtain Cassandro and Polidoro’s marriage blessings – a daunting task, if not for the cunning plan to deploy Rosina, a fake innocent girl who will disarm the brothers with her beauty and charm. Will the plan work? Teatro Goldoni has the answer.