La finta giardiniera, coming to a garden near you Photo by Fay Fox, costumes by Beth Goldenberg.

La finta giardiniera, coming to a garden near you

Jenna Simeonov

Next month, On Site Opera and The Atlanta Opera are partnering up to present a new site-specific, bi-city co-production of Mozart’s La finta giardiniera. The show comes first to New York’s Westside Community Garden, 123 West 89th Street, May 11-13, and then heads to The Atlanta Botanical Garden May 19-20.

The collaboration is the first of its kind for both companies, and tickets to the performances are free with registration.

We spoke with Tomer Zvulun and Eric Einhorn, General & Artistic Directors of The Atlanta Opera and On Site Opera, about Mozart’s romantic comedy, and the fun of performing it al fresco.

How did the partnership develop between On Site Opera and the Atlanta Opera?

Tomer Zvulun: Eric and I have a long friendship, which began when we were colleagues on the directing staff at the Met. We share a passion for engaging new audiences, telling stories in unexpected ways, and immersing audiences in musical experiences, so the idea of collaboration arose very organically.

Eric Einhorn: When Tomer took the helm of the Atlanta Opera, we started a conversation pretty early on about a collaboration. One of his first artistic initiatives was the creation of the Discoveries series. The timing was finally right for both companies a few seasons later to begin a partnership, and we moved the conversation forward when Tomer came to me with the idea of *La finta giardiniera* in a garden.

Eric Einhorn, General & Artistic Director of On Site Opera (left), and Tomer Zvulun, General & Artistic Director of The Atlanta Opera.

Why is La finta giardiniera a good choice for the first collaboration between your companies?

Einhorn: What makes *Finta* a good choice is its flexibility. Unlike some of On Site Opera’s previous productions, which were conceived for specific spaces in New York, *Finta* has been developed with a fair amount of flexibility in order to make it equally effective in both New York and Atlanta. 

Zvulun: Finta gives us an opportunity to use green environments in each of our cities as a gorgeous backdrop for an outdoor music theatre experience. In Atlanta, the production will take place in the Atlanta Botanical Garden, a 30-acre gem of our city. Since interest in the production has greatly outstripped available seating, we’ve also arranged for the performance to be broadcast over the speaker system throughout the park, so visitors can experience Mozart’s beautiful music while strolling the grounds.

What do you think La finta giardiniera says about relationships and romance?

Zvulun: I think, more than anything, it shows the genius of a young Mozart – a composer who truly had an inherent understanding of love and relationships, and how those can be explored through music. Not many teenagers have as keen a perspective on what makes us tick as humans!

Einhorn: Finta says SO much about relationships and romance! In the original uncut version, the narrative is a cumbersome and convoluted journey through love and madness. In our version, though, we have trimmed the story down to 90-minutes in order to focus on the relationships of the characters in a less complicated arc. Mozart gives us four completely different relationships to examine in the opera, ranging from the troubled relationship between Sandrina and Belfiore, to the burgeoning (and comic) romance of Nardo and Serpetta.

Even though he wrote this opera at 18 years old, Mozart (it is no surprise) paints incredibly rich pictures of love and relationships with the perfect balance of humor and pathos. The opera doesn’t try to pass judgement on any one couple or their actions. Instead, by presenting these many difference faces of love, we are able to find pieces of ourselves and our own relationships across all of the characters. The hope is that we can leave the show having reflected a little on ourselves, as well as laughed at ourselves a bit.

Photo by Fay Fox, costumes by Beth Goldenberg.

What can audiences expect from this site-specific production?

Einhorn: Audiences can except a truly immersive experience in both garden spaces. As with all On Site Opera productions, audiences will be placed right in the middle of the action, with performers appearing all around them. Kelley Rourke’s new English translation and Beth Goldenberg’s costumes both draw on botanical inspiration in order to tie the piece to the garden spaces even more.

Zvulun: Combining clever direction with surprising locations, gorgeous music, and engaging up-and-coming performers promises to create a fresh experience for our audiences.

Einhorn: It’s a recipe for a truly incredible musical and theatrical experience.

La finta giardiniera runs May 11-13 in New York, and May 19-20 in Atlanta. For more details, and to reserve a spot, click right here.

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