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Mozart: La Finta Giardiniera [Accademia Bizantina] Blu-ray Review

mozart-la-finta-giardiniera-blu-ray-cover

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: LPCM 2.0, DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Running Time: 187 minutes
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Arthaus Musik
  • Blu-ray Release Date: February 26, 2013
  • List Price: $39.99

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(The below TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

 

The Performance

[Rating:4/5]


This 2006 Zurich Opera production of Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera (The Pretend Garden Girl) is a reissue (originally a TDK release in 2009) by Arthaus Musik. This comic opera written by an 18-year Wolfgang foreshadows some of his later, better known works like Cosi Fan Tutte.

It opens in the garden of the Mayor Don Anchise (tenor Rudolf Schasching) who is in love with Sandrina (soprano Eva Mei). Sandrina is actually the Marquise Violante Onesti disguised as a gardener. Nardo, Violante’s servant, also disguised as a gardener (baritone Gabriel Bermudez) is in love with Serpetta (soprano Julia Kleiter), the Mayor’s servant whom the Mayor also fancies but she does not return his advances. The Cavalier Ramiro (mezzo-soprano Liliana Nikiteanu) who has been rejected by Arminda (soprano Isabel Rey) who is engaged to Count Belfiore (tenor Christoph Strehl). Meanwhile the Count becomes immediately attracted to Sandrina (who was the Count’s previous lover and whom he believed to have died). After numerous plot twists and turns, along with a raft of mistaken identities, everything ends well. The Count and Violante (in her true identity) are reunited, Arminda gets back together with Ramiro, and Serpetta yields to Nardo. Don Anchise is the odd man out and hopes someday that he will find his “Sandrina.”

This is a sparking performance led by early music specialist, Nikolaus Harnoncourt with his period band, the Orchestra “La Scintilla.” Stage director Tobias Moretti works with a rather sparse set, the garden being a bunch of branches and some potted plants. The cast presents a good ensemble and, critical to a comedy, possesses terrific timing. Vocally, there is not a weak link and due justice is given to the Mozartean style.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]


This is a beautifully shot video with great capture of detail and outstanding management of the stagecraft (of which there is plenty).  The singers, all of whom are very telegenic, get their due with many close ups. The modern costumes are stunning and prove the point that Mozart can be effectively updated. Maintaining the update vein, there is clever use of projections to simulate surveillance cameras that pick up some interesting shots of the characters on the palace grounds.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]


The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is in 7.1 channel format. I could only hear it with 5.1 channels but, even with this limitation, there was substantial airiness and presentation of orchestral detail. The small orchestra was well balanced against the onstage voices. The 2-channel alternative is also quite good.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0.5/5]


Arthaus Musik provides gives us no extras, just a slim booklet with a brief essay on the opera by director Tobias Moretti.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]


I would venture to bet that relatively few opera fans will have either heard or seen this early Mozart work.  It was actually a surprise to find three other video versions (all SD) given its relatively infrequent performance outside of the European scene. There are many felicitous moments that, given the audience response, got their points across.  If any cast could make a strong case for this neglected opera, it is the present one, all of whom look young enough to fit their parts. Even tenor Schasching who plays the Mayor, a role often assigned to a much older singer, becomes a credible womanizer. Special mention must go stage director Moretti who, avoiding excessive slapstick, strikes just the right balance between physical and vocal comedy. It is extremely rewarding to hear this score on the period instruments that Mozart would have used and given such loving treatment by maestro Harnoncourt. A delight from beginning to end, this one is for all opera lovers.

Additional Screen Captures

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0.5/5]

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