Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Munich

A turbulent love story and boisterous carnival fun

La finta giardiniera

Prince Regent Theatre, Munich 2011 Photo: Bavarian Theatre Academy/A.T. Schaefer
La finta giardiniera

La finta giardiniera

Prince Regent Theatre, Munich 2011 Photo: Bavarian Theatre Academy / A.T.Schaefer

In 1774 the 18-year-old Mozart finally received the long hoped-for composition commission: he was to write a “drama giocoso” for the Elector of Bavaria. Leopold and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart set out on the arduous journey to Munich. In the freezing winter, the stage coach rattled from coaching inn to coaching inn. Wolfgang arrived with a serious cold. As soon as he was well again, he finished work on “La Finta Giardiniera” – The Pretend Garden Girl – which he had already started back in Salzburg. The libretto was most likely written by Giuseppe Petrosellini.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart designed the work as a comic opera or 'Opera buffa'. However, some of the arias take a semiseria (semi-serious) or seria (serious) character, imbuing Mozart’s music with great diversity – a tremendous development compared to Mozart’s earlier work “La Finta Semplice”, which he composed at the age of 12.

Love-confusions and a disguised Marchioness

To be close to her beloved Count Belfiore, marchioness Violante Onesti disguises herself as a garden girl and seeks employment at the court of the Podestà. Her servant Nardo pretends to be her brother. These and other protagonists such as Arminda, the niece of the Podestà, Cavaliere Ramiro, the neighbour of the Podestà, and the chambermaid Serpetta plunge into a merry chaos in three acts, from which all couples of lovers are to emerge happy.

Mozart’s music premiered on January 13, 1775, in front of a sold-out house and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was swept away by the shouts of “Viva maestro”. After this triumph, the Mozarts plunged head-first into the carnival in Munich. They would stay for three months, only to return with a very bad conscience to their employer in Salzburg.