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Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus: La finta giardiniera
Act 1: Aria, “Che beltà, che leggiadria” (Count Belfiore)

Roger Pines, Dramaturg, Lyric Opera of Chicago
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Aria Talk7/1/2004

Editor's Note: Aria Talk focuses not on the tried-and-true pieces you undoubtedly already know, but on somewhat off-the-beaten-track arias. The hope is that this music will prove a refreshing musical and interpretive change not only for you, the performer, but also for those hearing you in auditions.
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enors auditioning with Mozart often subject themselves to undue strain with Ottavio, Ferrando and, above all, Tamino. Don’t force yourself into those arias if you’re not yet ready for them! At this point in your singing, Count Belfiore in La finta giardiniera may seem significantly more manageable — more pleasurable, too. This charming opera is actually being rediscovered by more companies every year, so don’t think you’re going all that far off the beaten track should you take the aria into your audition repertoire.

Before the opera begins, jealous Belfiore has stabbed his beloved, the noblewoman Violante, and left her for dead. Violante has recovered and, disguised as Sandrina, is now a worker in the garden of the mayor of Lagonero (near Milan). The mayor’s pretentious niece, Arminda, arrives, anticipating her betrothal to — guess who? — Belfiore. The man himself soon makes his entrance with an aria praising Arminda’s beauty and charm: “I behold the sun, then I behold her. When I feel those burning rays, it seems, oh, God, as if I can barely stand”.

The aria is nothing without superbly graceful phrasing. If you can provide that, half your task is done. The ascents go only to F and G (it’s a good aria if you have some flexibility but are only just beginning to discover your top) and you’ll also need a solid D and E-flat below middle C. If you generally keep to the andante maestoso tempo, the bit of coloratura is a reasonable matter to negotiate. Belfiore hasn’t the nobility of a Tamino or the lovability of a Ferrando, but from consistently elegant expression that also projects the air of a confident lover, you can easily create a convincing characterization.

Score: Bärenreiter
Recording: Uwe Heilmann in complete performance, Teldec #72309
Timing: 3:44
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