La Finta Giardiniera - 1983

program cover

UCLA Opera Theater Presents

La Finta Giardiniera

(“The Phony Gardener-Girl”)
In English

Samuel Krachmalnick

John Hall
Producer & Stage Director

Thursday - Sunday
November 17, 18, 19, 20 1983
Jan Popper Theater
8:00 P.M.

English adaptation by
Earlene Kidder and John Hall

Libretto probably by Giuseppe Petrosellini
Music by W. A. Mozart

(Premiere Performance, Munich, January 13, 1775)


Act I
In a jealous quarrel, the young Count Belfiore has stabbed his wife Violent. Believing her dead he flees; but she, still alive and in love with him, assumes the disguise of Sandrina, a gardener’s maid and with her faithful servant Nardo, follows. Him to Lagonero where she and Nardo are employed by the Podestá. When the act begins preparations are being made for the Podestá’s niece Arminda to meet her noble suitor, Count Belfiore. Hoping to gain entry to the nobility, the Podestá has arranged for Arminda to marry the Count even though she loves the poet Ramiro. When the Count Belfiore arrives to meet his newly-betrothed, he finds a very determined young woman who is not at all ready to become Countess Belfiore. Assured by the Pedestá that all can be smoothed over, the Count then comes face to face with Sandrina, the image of his lost Violent, but when Arminda discovers the pair in the garden she is furious. The Podestá, urged on by Serpetta, becomes furious with his recalcitrant niece, and a finale of general confusion and mutual recriminations ends the act.

Act II
When the act begins we see Serpetta trying to ease the tempers of Arminda and Belfiore. Coaxing them to a reconciliation of sorts, the marriage plans are again foiled by Sandrina. Arminda then is determined to take matters into her own hands. She loves Ramiro and plans to abduct Sandrina and place the blame on Count Belfiore, therefore eliminating his prospects as a bridegroom. Ramiro comes in and declares his love for her, and Arminda enlists his help in kidnapping Sandrina and fooling Belfiore. Nardo, who has loved the maid Serpetta pays court to the young chambermaid, unwittingly allowing her to steal the keys to the wine cellar where Sandrina will be kept. The kidnapping takes place, and all seems to be going well until everyone shows up in the wine cellar. Accusations erupt, and fighting ensues until Sandrina reveals she is indeed the Countess Belfiore. Arminda then discovers that her uncle the Podestá has lied to her about Ramiro, and with the aid of her former gardener-girl is now free to marry Ramiro. Nardo wins the hand of Serpent, and the chastened Podestá is left to repair his native dignity. With all forgiven they toast to pleasure and celebration of love.

A Note on the Production…

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to our studio production of Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera. What you will see is an experiment in training young singers in the craft and technique of operatic performance. Mozart was around the age of our young cast when he composed this drama giocoso. His father Leopold wrote that the work had to be cut and reshaped because of singers’ problems and a disorganized orchestra. Later, Mozart rearranged the score for a German singspiel version in 177-80. The autograph of Act I was lost, and for years the work only existed with a German first act with no recitative. Different editors (notably Bernard Paumgartner whose one-act version was published) tinkered with the score hoping to bring this lost opera to life. Recently an eighteenth-century copy of the score was found in a Moravian library, and musicologists have been able to piece together a complete work which was premiered in Salzberg in 1980.

Unfortunately, I was unable to secure copies of this newly-recreated work but had directed a production of the piece you hear tonight with a professional company. I knew that it was a perfect piece for my students and, even with its arbitrary cuts and revisions made for this production, enough of Mozart was still present. (Besides, how many operas that call for 3 sopranos, 1 mezzo, 2 tenors and 1 baritone do you know?) This version could also fit in our Popper Theater and in sets originally designed for our touring production of Così fan tutte. What I am describing to you sounds very much like what went on in operatic production during Mozart’s lifetime. Whole scenes and arias could be cut or transferred from other composers works according to the budget, space or rehearsal period. Students of this period are often shocked at the seemingly casual treatment of operatic scores. Mozart himself wrote arias to replace scenes in other composers’ operas. I suppose what I am saying is that tonight’s Mozart isn’t kosher, but the fun that we have had rehearsing and the discovery of some beautiful music sung by young UCLA singers in 1983 would certainly please a teenage in Munich in 1775. I hope so, and I hope you enjoy our phony gardener-girl. - John Hall


Don Anchise, the Mayor of Lagonero
Ron Shaheen

In reality, the Countess Violanta Belfiore,
Now disguised as a gardener’s maid
Barbara Hancock

A Count, now betrothed to Arminda,
but formerly wed to Violanta
Michael Daniels

Niece of the Podestá and
in love with Ramiro
Carole Schaffer

Don Ramiro,
a young poet, in love with Arminda
Therese Lee

chamber maid to Arminda
Cheryl Dooley

servant to Violanta, he is disguised
as the gardener to the Podestá,
in love with Serpetta
John DeKelaita

The action takes place in the house
and garden of Don Anchise,
the Podesta’ of Lagonero.


Samuel Krachmalnick

Stage Director
John Hall

Musical Accompaniment
Peggy Sheffield

Edythe Johnson

Eileen Cooley

Production Manager
Nancy Norsby

Publicity Coordinator
Kathleen Moon