La finta giardiniera ("The Pretend Garden-Girl"), K. 196, is an Italianopera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart wrote it in Munich in January 1775 when he was 18 years old and it received its first performance on January 13 at the Salvatortheater in Munich. There is debate over the authorship of the libretto; the current belief is that it was written by Giuseppe Petrosellini.
In 1780 Mozart converted the opera into a German Singspiel called Die Gärtnerin aus Liebe (also Die verstellte Gärtnerin), which involved rewriting some of the music. Until a copy of the complete Italian version was found in the 1970s, the German translation was the only known complete score.
Summary: The story follows Count Belfiore and Violante who were formerly lovers before Belfiore stabbed Violante in a lovers' tiff. Violante is disguised as the gardener Sandrina and confronts Belfiore, who is by this point engaged to Arminda, niece of the podestà. In a fit of jealousy Arminda kidnaps Violante. When Violante is found both she and Belfiore nearly go mad until eventually Violante decides to forgive Belfiore.
A garden with a wide staircase leading to the Mayor's mansion.
The Mayor, Cavalier Ramiro and Serpetta descend the staircase as Sandrina and Nardo work in the garden. Together they praise the lovely day. But their happiness is feigned: Sandrina is wretched because Don Anchise is in love with her; Nardo is frustrated by Serpetta, who teases him but refuses to respond to his affections; Ramiro is bitter about being tossed aside by Arminda; and, because she has set her own cap at the Mayor, Serpetta is angry at Sandrina. The Mayor is the only happy person in the group. Today is his niece's wedding day, and her suitor is due to arrive at any moment. He also is giddy over his plan to propose to Sandrina, which he does at the first opportunity. Sandrina demurs and, when Serpetta rudely interrupts, makes her escape.
Arminda's betrothed, none other than Count Belfiore, arrives and is swept off his feet by her great beauty. But Arminda is quick to let him know that she is someone to be reckoned with: Woe to you if I catch you being unfaithful, she warns. I will box your ears. The Count then boasts of his deeds and ancestry to the Mayor. His family tree, he says proudly, can be traced to Scipio, Cato and Marcus Aurelius. Don Anchise responds with a mixture of awe and skepticism, as though he doesn't care what sort of buffoon this fellow is as long as he marries his niece.
In the garden, Arminda finds Sandrina and casually mentions that she is to marry Count Belfiore. Stunned by the news, Sandrina faints. When the Count arrives, Arminda leaves him to watch over Sandrina while she rushes off to fetch her smelling salts. He is shocked to find that this simply dressed gardener's girl is none other than Violante. As is so appropriate for an opera buffa finale, everything gets turned on its head. Arminda returns and immediately runs into the last person she expects to encounter, her former lover Ramiro, who is approaching from the opposite direction. Sandrina awakens and finds herself looking directly into the eyes of Belfiore. What are they to do? The Mayor enters and demands an explanation. But no one knows quite what to say. Sandrina wavers, unable to make up her mind about revealing her true identity, and nearly driving Belfiore out of his mind in the process. Arminda suspects that she's being deceived, but she isn't quite sure. The Mayor blames everything on Serpetta; Serpetta in turn blames Sandrina; and Ramiro, on the periphery, is certain only of the fact that Arminda still does not love him.
A hall in the Mayor's palace.
Ramiro discovers Arminda and insists that she hear him out. He upbraids her for her inconstancy. When she refuses to listen, he departs, but not before promising revenge upon his rival. Belfiore enters in some distress, muttering: I have no peace since I found Sandrina. Arminda, overhearing this, confronts him angrily before exiting in the grand manner of a spurned seria heroine. Sandrina is in the worst kind of dilemma. She has finally found her true love, but she is about to lose him forever to another woman. For reasons of her own, she has refused to reveal her identity. Yet when she encounters Belfiore, the question comes gushing out: Why did you stab me and desert me? The Count, overjoyed, responds: Then you are Violante! But Sandrina quickly reassumes her disguise. No, she says, that is what the poor girl said as she died. No matter, Belfiore says, you have the face of my Violante. He begins to serenade her but, partway through, the Mayor enters. Belfiore takes the Mayor's hand, believing it belongs to Sandrina, then retreats in embarrassment when he discovers his mistake.
Alone with Sandrina, the Mayor again attempts to woo her. But once again he is interrupted, this time by Ramiro, who arrives with the news from Milan that Count Belfiore is wanted for murder. Don Anchise immediately summons Belfiore for questioning. The Count, thoroughly baffled, implicates himself. In order to save him, Sandrina reveals herself as Violante, and the proceedings break up in some confusion. The Count approaches Sandrina, but she pushes him away. I am not your Violante, she says, I only pretended to be in order to save you. Moments later, Serpetta arrives to tell the Mayor, Nardo and Ramiro that Sandrina has run away. In reality, Arminda and Serpetta have conspired to abduct her, and she has been carried off and abandoned in the wilderness. The Mayor immediately organizes a search party.
A deserted, mountainous spot.
Sandrina is nearly frightened out of her wits. But, in small groups, her rescuers soon begin to arrive: the Count and Nardo, Arminda, Serpetta and the Mayor. Mistaken identities multiply in the darkness: The Mayor mistakes Arminda for Serpetta, and she him for the Count; the Count believes Serpetta is Sandrina, while she believes him to be the Mayor. Nardo alone manages to find his mistress by following her voice. Ramiro, the gallant cavalier, arrives with footmen carrying torches. All this confusion is too much for poor Belfiore and Sandrina. While the others bicker, they begin to lose their minds. I am the terrible Medusa! cries Sandrina. I am the fearless Alcides! responds the Count. Everyone looks on in astonishment as they begin to dance.
The Count and Sandrina are certifiably insane, as Nardo discovers. Still believing that they are gods from classical Greece, they pursue him until he distracts them by pointing at the sky. Look at difference between the sun and the moon! he cries. Observe all the lovesick stars! They are entranced and Nardo is able to make his escape. Events are taking their toll on the Mayor's judgment, too. Arminda begs for permission to marry the Count, and Ramiro demands that he order her to marry him. But he becomes confused and gives in to them both: Do what you want, he says, just do not trouble me any more.
The Count and Sandrina gradually awaken after sleeping, at a discreet distance from one another in the garden. Their madness has passed. Belfiore makes one final appeal, and Sandrina admits that she is, indeed Violante. However, she says, she loves him no more. Sadly, the Count agrees that they should go their separate ways. But (this is an opera buffa, after all) their feet begin to drag, and they turn back. The mutual attraction of their love is too strong: They fall into each other's arms and then immediately run off to get married. The Mayor and Arminda are dumbfounded when they hear the news. After they recover from their initial shock, they, along with everyone else, take it all in stride. Arminda decides to marry Ramiro, and Serpetta even decides that Nardo isn't such a bad choice, after all. Only the Mayor is left out, and he accepts his fate philosophically. Perhaps, he says, he will someday meet another gardener's girl.
Another opera by the same name was composed in 1774 by Pasquale Anfossi. It precedes Mozart's work and the significant influence Anfossi's version had on that of Mozart is not fully recognised.
"A forza di martelli" - Roberto
"Appena mi vedon" - Serpetta
"Che beltà, che leggiadria" - Count Belfiore
"Dentro il mio petto" - Don Anchises
"Geme la tortorella" - Marchioness Violante Onesti
"Noi donne poverine" - Marchioness Violante Onesti
"Se l'augellin sen fugge" - Ramiro
"Se promette facilmente" - Arminda
"Sirocco a tramontana" - Count Belfiore
"Un marito, o dio" - Roberto
"Una damina, una nipote" - Don Anchises
"Una voce sento al core" - Marchioness Violante Onesti
"Vorrei punirti indegno" - Arminda
"Ah dal pianto" - Marchioness Violante Onesti
"Ah non partir...Già divento freddo" - Count Belfiore