La finta semplice by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Summary

'''''La finta semplice''''' (''The Fake Innocent''), K. 51 (46a) is an opera buffa in three acts for seven voices and orchestra, composed in 1768 by then 12-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Young Mozart and his father Leopold were spending the year in Vienna, where Leopold was trying to establish his son as an opera composer. He was acting on a suggested request from the Emperor Joseph II that the young boy should write an opera.

Leopold chose an Italian libretto by the Vienna court poet Marco Coltellini, which was based on an early work by Carlo Goldoni. During rehearsals, the opera was the victim of intrigues from competing composers claiming that the work was not from the 12-year-old boy, but from his father. Threatened with a sabotaged first night by the impresario Giuseppe Affligio, Leopold prudently decided to withdraw. The opera was never staged in Vienna. It was performed the following year in Salzburg at the request of the Prince-Archbishop on 1 May 1769.

Mozart produced a full score of three acts, 26 numbers, in a manuscript of 558 pages. It includes an overture/Sinfonia, one coro, one duet, three ensembles (at the end of each act), and 21 arias.

The opera was recorded in its entirety by Leopold Hager for Orfeo in January 1983 with Helen Donath and Teresa Berganza, a performance lasting two hours 45 minutes. Another recording was made in November 1989, with Barbara Hendricks and Ann Murray, and conducted by Peter Schreier. This version was selected by Philips to be part of ''The Complete Mozart Edition'' of all the works of Mozart, published in 1991.

However, since its premiere in 1769, the opera was not staged until modern times. It was performed at the 2006 Salzburg festival, as part of the production of all of 22 Mozart's operas. The performances were published in the collection of DVDs known as ''M-22'' by Deutsche Grammophon.

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