La finta giardiniera
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Opera buffa in three acts
Libretto by Giuseppe Petrosellini
Il contino Belfiore
Le Jardin des Voix 2019
Les Arts Florissants
Marchioness Violante Onesti is on the trail of Count Belfiore, her former lover, who thinks her dead after he stabbed her in a fit of jealousy. She and her servant Roberto have disguised themselves as two gardeners – Sandrina and Nardo – and are working at the palace of Don Anchise, the Podestà (Mayor). Love is in the air, but it’s a madcap imbroglio: Serpetta, the Podestà’s maid, is in love with her master, but he is more interested in Sandrina, while Nardo pines for Serpetta, who does not respond to his affections. Then we have Cavalier Ramiro, resentful that he has been jilted by Arminda, the Podestà’s niece, who is betrothed to Belfiore. News of this engagement causes Sandrina to faint and sows the seeds of doubt in the mind of Belfiore, who is sure that she is his former lover. She, however, swears that Violante is dead, which leads to confusion for all present.
Inside the palace, confusion reigns: Belfiore is agitated, Arminda reaffirms her love for him, Ramiro is consumed with jealousy, Nardo showers Serpetta with affection and the Podestà refuses to let his niece marry a murderer. When Sandrina and Belfiore find themselves alone, she gives a detailed account of Violante’s death. But when Ramiro produces an arrest warrant for Belfiore, Sandrina reveals her true personality, although her words are not taken seriously. While the situation is being resolved, Sandrina disappears, and Nardo finds out from Serpetta that the young woman has been abandoned in a forest by order of the jealous Arminda, so they all set off to find her.
In a cave in the woods, Sandrina is terrified and alone. When she is located by the others, the darkness of the night sets off a series of misunderstandings and only the false gardener and her former lover manage to find harmony after falling into a madness and believing themselves to be mythological beings – to the astonishment of the onlookers.
In the courtyard of the palace, Sandrina and Belfiore are still under the spell of madness as they pursue Nardo. The Podestà is worried about the situation and Arminda insists on her love for Belfiore, driving Ramiro to despair.
Back in the garden, Sandrina and Belfiore awaken from their madness and recognise each other, finally swearing eternal love to each other. Nardo announces the news to the others and Sandrina confirms that she is Violante and that Nardo is her servant, thus clearing Belfiore’s name. Arminda asks the Marchioness for forgiveness and her eyes alight on the faithful Ramiro, while Serpetta, encouraged by the Podestà, pairs up with Nardo to his obvious delight. Only the Podestà remains alone, waiting for another faithful gardener, while everyone rejoices.