Given the opera’s relative rarity, Musica Viva’s recent production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s La finta giardiniera must surely have been a premiere of some sort.
The first half of May was been a busy fortnight for opera in the Greater Bay Area. The renowned Chinese soprano He Hui sang her first Wagner role, Senta in Der fliegende Holländer, at the Guangzhou Opera House on 5 and 7 May, a dramatic move (literally and figuratively) away from the Verdi and Puccini heroines for which she is best known.
Musica Viva has recently taken to doing a Mozart opera each year, and this year’s selection of Don Giovanni, when the composer was at the height of his powers, was at the other end of the scale from last year’s La Finta Semplice, written was Mozart was just twelve.
Written when the composer was just 12, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s La Finta Semplice qualifies as a real rarity. After a performance the year following its composition, it dropped from the repertoire and was not staged again until modern times. That Musica Viva’s recent production at Hong Kong’s City Hall was a premiere seems beyond doubt, the only question being over how large a geographical area.
Hong Kong’s Musica Viva has incrementally moved from one full opera production per year—in December—to two. If this recent production of Mozart’s comic masterpiece is any indication, the smaller production in late September featuring entirely local singers has, over the past couple of years, matured and is hitting its stride.