Ian Page and Classical Opera make their Southbank Centre début with a concert staging of La finta semplice, Mozart’s first full-length opera

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“I have decided all at once to chance something quite extraordinary; namely, he shall write an opera for the theatre – and what do you think, what kind of uproar has arisen privately among the composers? – what? – today one should see a Gluck and tomorrow a twelve-year-old boy sitting at the keyboard and conducting his opera?

Leopold Mozart, 30 January 1768

Ian Page and Classical Opera continue their ground-breaking MOZART 250 series with three performances of Mozart’s La finta semplice, written 250 years ago when the composer was aged twelve.  A concert performance at Birmingham Town Hall will be followed by two performances of a ‘concert staging’ at the newly refurbished Queen Elizabeth Hall (Southbank Centre).


Page conducts and directs an international cast headed by Swiss soprano Regula Mühlemann, making her UK début in the title role of Rosina alongside Chiara Skerath, Sophie Rennert, Alessandro Fisher, Thomas Elwin, Lukas Jakobski and Božidar Smiljanić.  Swiss-Belgian soprano Chiara Skerath made a triumphant UK début with Ian Page and The Mozartists at Wigmore Hall in January, and both she and Austrian mezzo-soprano Sophie Rennert are here making their UK opera débuts. Tenors Alessandro Fisher and Thomas Elwin both became Classical Opera Associate Artists in 2017.  Elwin performed with the ensemble at Cadogan Hall in March 2018 in a performance of Haydn’s Applausus and Fisher sings the role of Bastien in the company’s forthcoming recording of Bastien und Bastienne. 

Page is collaborating with Lighting Designer Mark Doubleday and Assistant Director Adam Torrance in addition to Production Manager Kirsty Harris and Costume Designer Emily Adamson for the concert staging at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Page writes: 
“With our concert staging of La finta semplice we are seeking to extend the audience experience to incorporate costumes, lighting and inevitably simple staging. The aim is for this staging to grow directly and organically out of a detailed exploration of the music and text. A colleague recently said to me that “Mozart is the best stage director ever to have lived”, and even at the age of twelve Mozart was writing music of extraordinary drama, beauty and psychological insight. I am delighted to have assembled a cast of outstanding young singer-actors, and excited at the prospect of working with them on this rarely performed work.”

Written when Mozart was just twelve, La finta semplice is based on a comedy by Carlo Goldoni and is the composer’s first full-length opera.  The opera was written in Vienna following a comment by the Emperor – Joseph II – who suggested that Mozart should compose an Italian comic opera for the city.  Vienna’s musicians (including Antonio Salieri) were far from happy at the prospect of being upstaged by a twelve-year-old composer, though, and the opera’s première was constantly pushed back. After it proved impossible to get the opera performed in Vienna, the Mozarts travelled back to Salzburg, where the opera is thought to have been performed the following year.

Classical Opera have built up a reputation for their concert performances in recent years, with their 2006 production of Così fan tutte receiving a nomination in the Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards. Ian Page and Classical Opera previously performed La finta semplice at The Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre in 2000.

La finta semplice

2 June 2018, 19:30, Birmingham Town Hall

6 & 8 June 2018, 19:00, Queen Elizabeth Hall

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