|Cecelia Hall and Susanna Phillips (photo by Ken Howard)
Dear Dan Savage,
Who else but you could help me with my savage feelings! I recently started working for an important guy in my town. I fell madly in love with his housekeeper but she is hanging in there with high hopes of marrying her boss. I'm sure she doesn't have a chance with him and I know I am the right guy for her but she is one difficult woman! She keeps rejecting me. How do I convince her? I'm just a working stiff but I'm reliable. Doesn't that count?
Nardo the Nebbish
I just about convinced my boss to marry me, after several years of keeping house for him. He's old but he's rich and I'm tired of working. I thought I had a lock on him but he recently hired a gardener, a woman gardener. There's something phony about her and she's got him wrapped around her finger. How can I expose her and get him back?
It's tough being a guy with position and money. I've been alone for years and was thinking of marrying my housekeeper so she could ease my later years. Recently I hired a woman to tend my garden and, well, how do I put this delicately? The sap is rising! She doesn't seem particularly interested but I'm sure it's because she is depressed. There must be something in her past that causes her to overlook a catch like myself. How can I get her to look at me and see how much I have to offer her?
Yours in renewed rapture,
I suspect you are going to tell me to DTMFA, but I hope you will not because I am so in love with this guy. He has anger management problems and, in a fit he attacked me with a knife. He left me for dead but I survived and I want him back. I know we are meant for each other! He's really a wonderful guy and I think I could get him to go for therapy. The problem is this--I decided to totally change my life by giving up everything and going to work at something menial. (My boss is interested in me but I can't even look at him.) Imagine my shock when the man I love showed up at his home and is engaged to his niece. They blow hot and cold and if he found out that I'm alive I'm sure he would give her up and return to me. Please help!
I am a bad boy. Here I am engaged to a beautiful woman who is capricious and always wants things her way, a real princess. But I cannot forget my ex-lover who I may have killed in a fit of jealousy. At the time I thought I was justified! I saw in my fiancée's uncle's house a woman who reminds me so much of her. I cannot believe it and I think I want to back out of my engagement. Am I a total A-hole?
What a jerk I am. I have been hanging around this gorgeous gal who keeps stringing me along. She is so fickle. Now she just got engaged to someone else. She's independent and bossy but I love her anyway. Do you think there is some way I can coax her away from this other dude? Please answer quickly Dan.
Can you help me with a quandary? It's time I married. I have been keeping company with a swell guy but he is so devoted I started to take him for granted. Along comes this exciting guy who swept me off my feet. But he is fickle and seems to be flirting with someone in my uncle's employ. Should I choose the exciting one or the loyal one? I might add that whichever one I choose, I will rule the roost. I am accustomed to getting my way. For the kind of woman I am, which guy would make the best match? I'm counting on you Abby.
Now that you understand the plot of Mozart's youthful opera La Finta Gardiniera (LOL), let it be said that the Santa Fe Opera gave it a delightful production. The cast was all around superb.
The Marchioness Violante, disguised as Sandrina the gardener, was portrayed by Heidi Stober. As the spoiled and demanding Arminda, Susanna Phillips sang and acted up a storm, stepping out of the usual gentle sweetness we associate with her.
Soprano Laura Tatulescu portrayed Serpetta with rather more unpleasantness than wiliness.
As the flip-flopping Belfiore, tenor Joel Prieto made a fine impression. As the Podestà, tenor William Burden more than fulfilled the demands of the role.
Mezzo-soprano Cecelia Hall was extraordinarily convincing as Ramiro and Joshua Hopkins, in the role of Nardo, impressed us with his superb baritone and sympathetic portrayal.
The production was gorgeous and true to the period. Tim Albery's direction kept things moving at a swift pace and Harry Bicket's precise attack on Mozart's marvelous music kept up.
Hildegard Bechtler's stunning set took us right back to the 18th c. as did Jon Morrell's lavish costume design. The Podestà's overdone costume and wig were a source of giggles and Ms. Phillips looked exquisite in her gown, with the widest paniers we have ever seen.
Sandrine and Serpetta were drably dressed in black but they were servants and perhaps that is how servants were dressed in those days.
This was not Mozart's first opera and his enthusiasm for the form is unmistakeable. Melodies tumbled after each other all night long. All he needed was a good librettist and thank goodness Da Ponte came along. Now that was a match made in heaven!
This was the last opera we heard in Santa Fe this season and we were overjoyed to end on such a happy note. By the end of the opera, everyone was happily coupled except for the Podestà and he was hopeful about his romantic future. Delightful!
(c) meche kroop