Mozart: La finta semplice
6 & 8 June 2018, 7.00pm - Queen Elizabeth Hall
Classical Opera makes its Southbank Centre début at the newly renovated Queen Elizabeth Hall with two semi-staged performances of Mozart’s first full-length opera, La finta semplice.
Written when the composer was just twelve years old, the opera is based on a sparkling comedy by Carlo Goldoni, and combines situations of great comic invention and genuine humour with music of extraordinary beauty, energy and psychological insight. Ian Page directs a superb international cast of world-class young singers, headed by the rapidly emerging Swiss soprano Regula Mühlemann, whose solo recording contract with Sony Classical was recently launched with a highly acclaimed disc of Mozart arias.
Pre-performance lecture by Dr Robert Cannon on Friday, 8 June:
Dr Robert Cannon, renowned speaker and author of Cambridge University Press Introduction to Opera, will give a lecture on Mozart’s La finta semplice as part of a series that he will present for Classical Opera to run alongside their opera performances. The lecture will commence at 5.30pm and will last for one hour. Kings College Auditorium (Waterloo campus), Stamford St, SE1 9NH. To book tickets (£25 including programme), please email Lizzie@classicalopera.co.uk
Cremona, Northern Italy, 1768. Fracasso and Simone, two soldiers, want to marry Giacinta and Ninetta, but cannot do so without the consent of Giacinta’s eccentric brothers, Cassandro and Polidoro. When Fracasso’s sister, Rosina, arrives, a plot is hatched – but can she soften the misogynistic brothers and make them recognise the pleasures of love…?
Ian Page is the founder, conductor and artistic director of Classical Opera. He began his musical education as a chorister at Westminster Abbey, and studied English Literature at the University of York before completing his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London. At the start of his career he worked on the music staff at Scottish Opera, Opera Factory, Drottningholm and Glyndebourne, working with such conductors as Sir Alexander Gibson, Nicholas McGegan, Mark Wigglesworth, Ivor Bolton and Sir Charles Mackerras.
With Classical Opera he has conducted most of Mozart’s early operas, including the world premières of the “original” version of Mitridate, re di Ponto and a new completion of Zaide, as well as Le nozze di Figaro, Così fan tutte and La clemenza di Tito. He has also conducted the UK premières of Gluck’s La clemenza di Tito and Telemann’s Orpheus, and the first new staging for 250 years of Johann Christian Bach’s Adriano in Siria. In 2009 he made his Royal Opera House début conducting Arne’s Artaxerxes at the Linbury Studio Theatre, and his studio recording of the work was released in 2011 on Linn Records.
He also devised and conducted Classical Opera’s recordings of ‘The A-Z of Mozart Opera’ (Signum Classics) and ‘Blessed Spirit – a Gluck retrospective’ (Wigmore Hall Live), both of which were selected for Gramophone magazine’s annual Critic’s Choice, and he recently embarked on a new complete cycle of Mozart opera recordings with Classical Opera.
Swiss soprano Regula Mühlemann was raised in Lucerne where she studied at the Conservatory. She will make her Classical Opera début in June 2018 as Rosina in La finta semplice. Her opera performances include Giannetta in L’ Elisir d’Amore at the Zürich Opera House, Despina in Così fan tutte at the Teatro la Fenice in Venice, and Nanetta (Falstaff), Papagena (Die Zauberflöte) and Elisa (Il re pastore) at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden. She made her début at the Salzburg Festival in 2012, singing the young Papagena in Peter von Winter’s opera Das Labyrinth, and sang Serpetta in Hans Neuenfels’s new production of La finta giardiniera at the Berlin Staatsoper. She records exclusively for Sony Classical, and her début recording of Mozart arias was released in October 2016. Her second album, “Cleopatra”, will be released in autumn 2017.
Swiss-Belgian soprano Chiara Skerath studied at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris with Glenn Chambers. She has since been awarded numerous prizes, including the Grand Prix de Duo Chant-Piano at the 2013 International Nadia et Lili Boulanger Competition. Mozart roles include Despina (Così fan tutte) at Oper Frankfurt, Cinna (Lucio Silla) at Theater an der Wien, Opéra de Versailles and Philharmonie de Paris, Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) at the Opéra de Saint-Etienne, Barbarina and Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro) at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie and Operklosterneuburg, and Zerlina (Don Giovanni) at the Drottningholm Festival in Sweden. She will appear on Classical Opera’s forthcoming release of Il sogno di Scipione, and will join them for “1768 – a retrospective” at Wigmore Hall and as Ninetta in La finta semplice.
Sophie graduated with distinction from the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts, and has won several awards, including 2nd Prize and Audience Prize at the 2016 International Cesti Competition for baroque opera in Innsbruck. In 2013 she was selected for the prestigious Young Singers Project at the Salzburg Festival, and from 2014 to 2016 she was a member of the Konzert Theater in Bern, where her roles included Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro), Dorabella (Così fan tutte) and Sesto (La clemenza di Tito). She has worked with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Camerata Salzburg and the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, and she made her UK début in December 2017 in recital with Graham Johnson at Wigmore Hall.
A graduate of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama Postgraduate Vocal Studies course, Alessandro Fisher read Modern and Medieval Languages (Italian and German) at Cambridge University, where he was choral scholar in Clare College Chapel Choir. His opera performances include Bellecour (Vert Vert) for Garsington Opera, Banquo (Luke Styles’ Macbeth) as part of the Glyndebourne Festival Jerwood Young Artist Project and Alindo / Delmiro (Hipermestra) for Glyndebourne Festival Opera. In April 2016 he was awarded joint first prize at the Kathleen Ferrier awards at the Wigmore Hall in London.
Thomas Elwin studied at the Royal Academy of Music and is an alumnus of the Solti Accademia Bel Canto and the Verbier Academy. In 2017 he became an Associate Artist of Classical Opera, and will appear with the company in Haydn’s Applausus at Cadogan Hall (March 2018) and in La finta semplice at Birmingham Town Hall and the Queen Elizabeth Hall (June 2018). For the 2014/15 season he was a member of the opera studio at Oper Stuttgart, where roles included Officer (Ariadne auf Naxos), Kuska (Khovanshchina), Adballo (Nabucco), and Borsa (Rigoletto). Other roles include Ferrando (Così fan tutte), Nathanael (Contes D’Hoffman), Kuska (Khovanshchina) and Borsa (Rigoletto), all for Staatstheater Stuttgart, Belmonte (Die Entführung aus dem Serail) in a new production by Sigrid Herzog at the Vorarlberg Landestheater, Ferrando (Così fan tutte) for Teatro Barocco, Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni) for English National Opera and Telemaco (Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria) for The Grange Festival.
Lukas Jakobski was a member of the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden from 2009 until 2011. Roles at The Royal Opera, Covent Garden have included Pistola (Falstaff) and Don Profundo (Il viaggio a Reims), and he has performed Colline (La bohème) and Zuniga (Carmen) for the Glyndebourne Tour. He made his début at Theater an der Wien singing Hobson in Britten’s Peter Grimes, and he has also appeared at Drottningholms Slottsteater singing Nettuno, Tempo and Antinoo (Il Ritorno d’Ulisse). Other appearances include Don Basilio (Il barbiere di Siviglia) for Grange Park Opera, Truffaldino (Ariadne auf Naxos) with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, and Polyphemus (Acis and Galatea) with Christian Curnyn at the Iford Festival. Concerts include Herald in Verdi’s Otello with Sir Colin Davis and the LSO and Mozart’s Requiem in Trondheim with Richard Egarr.
Božidar Smiljanić made his professional début at Glyndebourne Festival Opera as Captain (Eugene Onegin) under Omer Meir Wellber and returned as Masetto (Don Giovanni) for the Glyndebourne Tour. He will make his first appearance with Classical Opera as Simone in La finta semplice in June 2018. In his first professional seasons, he has débuted at Garsington Opera as Haly (L’italiana in Algeri) under David Parry, at Scottish Opera as Schaunard (La bohème), with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra as Brander in Berlioz’s La damnationa de Faust under John Nelson and with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in Sullivan’s Yeomen of the Guard under John Wilson. He joins English National Opera as a Harewood Artist for their 17/18 season, singing Marquis (La traviata) and covering the title role in Le nozze di Figaro.
The Mozartists play on period-instruments, and comprises some of the leading players in their field.
The orchestra, which varies in size from 12 to 50 depending on repertoire and venue, has won consistently high praise from public and critics alike, and performs symphonies and concertos as well as operas. 18th century instruments are generally far more exposed and difficult to play than their modern counterparts, but they bring a thrilling vibrancy and immediacy to the music. This is particularly true of vocal repertoire, where the orchestra provide a dynamic subtext and often become an extra actor in the drama.