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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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.

KV 51 (46a) - La finta semplice

- Sinfonia (Molto allegro - Andante - Molto allegro) (0:00)
- Coro I,1 (Tutti) Bella cosa è far l'amore! (5;42)
- Aria I,1 (Simone) Troppa briga a prender moglie (7:39)
- Aria I,2 (Giacinta) Marito io vorrei (10:24)
- Aria I,3 (Cassandro) Non c'è al mondo altro che donne (14:48)
- Aria I,3 (Fracasso) Guarda la donna in viso (16:43)
- Aria I,4 (Rosina) Colla bocca, e non col core (21:44)
- Aria I,5 (Polidoro) Cosa ha mai la donna indosso (24:45)
- Aria I,6 (Cassandro) Ella vuole ed io torrei (28:34)
- Aria I,7 (Rosina)  Senti l'eco, ove t'aggiri (32:49)
- Aria I,8 (Ninetta) Chi mi vuol bene (39:17)
- Finale I,9 (Tutti) Dove avete la creanza? (41:23)
- Aria II,1 (Ninetta) Un marito, donne care (48:46)
- Aria II,2 (Simone)  Con serte persone vuol esser bastone (51:31)
- Aria II,3 (Giacinta) Se a maritarmi arrivo (53:29)
- Aria II,5 (Rosina) Amoretti, che ascosi qui siete (56:29)
- Aria II,6 (Cassandro) Ubriaco non son io (60:22)
- Aria II,6 (Polidoro) Sposa cara, sposa bella (62:19)
- Aria II,7 (Rosina) Ho sentito a dir da tutte (66:43)
- Duetto II,8 (Cassandro, Fracasso) Cospetton, cospettonaccio! (71:39)
- Aria II,11 (Fracasso) In voi, belle, è leggiadria (74:35)
- Finale II,12 (Tutti) T'ho detto, buffone (77:55)
- Aria III,1 (Simone) Vieni, vieni, oh mia Ninetta (85:17)
- Aria III,1 (Ninetta) Sono in amore, voglio marito (88:02)
- Aria III,2 (Giacinta) Che scompiglio, che flagello (91:08)
- Aria III,2 (Fracasso) Nelle guere d'amore (93:59)
- Finale III,4 (Tutti) Se le pupille io giro (101:30)
Alternative versions:
- Aria I,3 (Fracasso) Guarda la Donna in viso (111:41)
- Aria III,1 (Ninetta) Sono in amore, voglio marito (116:44)


Fracasso, a Hungarian captain
lodging with Cassandro

Rosina, his sister, a baroness
Cassandro, a tyrannical misogynist 
Polidoro, his timid brother
Giacinta, their sister,
evidently no longer young   

Simone, Fracasso's orderly,
in love with Ninetta

Ninetta, Giacinta's maid


Place: Cassandro's estate near Cremona
Time: mid-18th century

Act 1


Captain Fracasso and his Hungarian troops are stationed near Cremona. He and his sergeant Simone have been lodging for two months in the home of Don Cassandro, who lives in his grand house with his weak-in-the-head brother Polidoro, and their beautiful sister, Giacinta. Inevitably, Captain Fracasso falls in love with Giacinta, and Simone with the chambermaid Ninetta. Fracasso and Giacinta want to marry, as do Simone and Ninetta. But they can't do it without the consent of the brothers Cassandro and Polidoro. The two brothers are comfortable with their status quo – they are confirmed misogynists, and unwilling to part with their sister. The wily soubrette Ninetta devises a plan to outwit the brothers, with the collaboration of Rosina, Fracasso's sister, who happens to be "visiting". Rosina (prima donna) poses as a naïve innocent who is going to make both brothers fall in love with her until they agree to the marriages. Polidoro falls in love with Rosina first and proposes marriage immediately. At first Cassandro is indifferent, but eventually his defences are completely disarmed through Rosina's feigned naïvety and innocence. So far, the plan is working.

Act 2

Polidoro naively believes Rosina is planning to marry him. Rosina coaches him for a confrontation with his brother Cassandro. Polidoro demands half of his inheritance from Cassandro. Giacinta fears a quarrel between the brothers, but the others look forward to their fight. Rosina and Fracasso congratulate each other for their successful plan to outwit Cassandro. They continue to engineer the rest of the plot. Simone takes Giacinta into hiding. Fracasso tells the brothers that Giacinta has fled, absconding with the family money. The plan is so successful that Ninetta disappears as well. Simone announces that Ninetta has also fled, taking along whatever she could get. The brothers agree that whoever can bring the two girls back should be allowed to marry them, even keeping whatever loot can be found. Fracasso and Simone volunteer to go on the search.

Act 3

Simone finds Ninetta and they rejoice that they soon will get married. Fracasso finds Giacinta, but she is afraid that when she returns, her brother will not agree to her marrying Fracasso, but Fracasso assures Giacinta that Rosina has bewitched the brothers and has them under her complete control. Fracasso and Giacinta rejoice at their pairing off. Rosina is confronted with her own choice between both brothers. She rejects Polidoro, who is heartbroken and agrees to marry Cassandro. They both mercilessly mock Polidoro for his stupidity. All ends well for the three couples, except for the odd man out, Polidoro, who is left alone.

The Stolen Kiss -  Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1786).

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