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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 21, 2010

UI Opera Theater performs Mozart's 'La finta giardiniera' Jan. 29-31

The University of Iowa Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theater will present the early Mozart masterpiece "La finta giardiniera" ("The Disguised Garden-Girl") at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 29 and 30, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31, in the Englert Theatre in downtown Iowa City.

The performances, under the stage direction of UI School of Music faculty member Gary Briggle (photo, right), will be sung in the original Italian with English supertitles.
William LaRue Jones will conduct a chamber orchestra of faculty and professional musicians, featuring David Hsu on continuo.

The opera combines both comic and serious elements to tell a story filled with disguises, attempted murder, jealousy, kidnapping, intrigue, insanity, and love won and lost. The All Music Guide concludes, "Mozart transformed (this story) into one of the best of his early works, a delicious opera that bubbles with vitality and confidence."

At the age of 18, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was already a veteran composer when he was commissioned by the Munich court to set a popular story of the time for performances at a festival in January 1775. The premiere was wildly successful -- Mozart wrote home that it "was such a success that it is impossible for me to describe the applause to Mama. ... after each aria there was a terrific noise, clapping of hands and cries of 'Viva Maestro.'" -- but the opera was given only three performances.

In 1780 Mozart converted the opera into a German Singspiel "Die Gèrtnerin aus Liebe," which included rewritten music and spoken dialogue, and the original Italian score was lost for two centuries. Since a complete score was discovered in Rome in 1976 the opera has returned to repertoire as a landmark in his maturing genius, and this production will be its Iowa premiere.

Count Belfiore and Violante were formerly lovers before he stabbed her during a quarrel and left her for dead. Now she returns, disguised as the gardener Sandrina and confronts Belfiore, who is about to marry Arminda, the mayor's niece. Nardo, the new groundskeeper, is chasing Serpetta, and Ramiro, a cavalier residing in the house, is struggling to get over his unrequited love for Arminda. Of course, after much confusion and a variety of reversals, all ends well.

The all-student cast features Chaz'men Williams-Ali, tenor; Sara Butwinick, soprano; James Thompson, tenor; Allison Czer, soprano; Clara Osowski, mezzo-soprano; Alexandra Schiano, soprano; and Jason Mallory, baritone.

The production also features musical preparation by Shari Rhoads scenery and costume design by Margaret Wenk-Kuchlbauer and lighting design by James Milkey.

Tickets -- $20; UI student $5; senior citizen $15; youth $10 - are available at the Englert box office, (319) 688-2653. Box office hours are 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Tickets may be purchased online at

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

UI arts events are searchable on the UI Master Calendar: For additional arts information, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Director Gary Briggle, Winston Barclay, UI News Services, 319-384-0073,