[Sponsored Article] One of the greatest classical composers of all times, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was an undisputed child prodigy who started composing music and performing before European royalty when he was five. To let Hong Kong’s opera enthusiasts experience the precocious yet profound talent of the influential Austrian maestro, Musica Viva will premiere in Hong Kong in September “La Finta Semplice”, composed by Mozart at the age of 12. Making this version of opera buffa (comic opera) one of a kind is Professor Lo Kingman, who adopts an original approach to the opera’s creative direction in his adaptation for the Hong Kong audiences, while staying true to Mozart’s definitive style, the complex emotions and moralistic themes conveyed through this romantic comedy. To be staged at the Hong Kong City Hall, Theatre on 10 and 11 September 2021, Musica Viva’s production of “La Finta Semplice” will mark the debut of conductor Ngai Sze Wai, who will work with two casts of talented up-and-coming Hong Kong singers. The comedy’s romance and humour will also be vividly brought to life on stage with the set designs by Isaac Wong, costume designs by Andrew Cheung and lighting design by Zoe Cheung. “La Finta Semplice” (the fake innocent) is a lesser known three-act opera buffa by young Mozart (1756-1791) with the libretto by Viennese poet Marco Coltellini (1724-1777), based on a text by Venetian playwright Carlo Goldini (1707-1793). Since its premiere in Salzburg in 1769, the opera was not staged until 2005 at the Malibran Theatre Venice. In January 1983, the opera was recorded in its entirety for the first time by Leopold Hager with Helen Donath and Teresa Berganza. Full of irresistible light-hearted moments, this opera buffa teases and intrigues audiences as a tale of romance, made complicated by collusions and deceit. Set in the estate of well-to-do brothers Cassandro and Polidoro near Cremona in Italy in the mid-18th century, Hungarian army Captain Fracasso and his troops are stationed in the vicinity. Fracasso and his sergeant Simone take up lodging in the home of Cassandro, shared with Polidoro and their beautiful sister, Giacinta. Fracasso falls in love with Giacinta, and Simone with the chambermaid Ninetta. Fracasso and Giacinta want to get married, as do Simone and Ninetta. But marriage is impossible without the consent of Cassandro and Polidoro who are confirmed bachelors comfortable with their status quo and unwilling to part with their sister. The star-crossed lovers hatch a plot to change the brothers’ minds. Enters the ‘naïve and innocent’ Rosina, Fracasso's attractive sister, who happens to be ‘visiting.’ Rosina tricks both brothers into falling in love with her. Polidoro succumbs to Rosina’s charm first and proposes to her almost immediately. Initially Cassandro is indifferent, but eventually his heart begins to melt because of Rosina's feigned naïvety and innocence. In the love triangle, the brothers vie for Rosina’s love and pour their hearts out in letters which are leaked. Meanwhile, Rosina tries to get Cassandro to part with a precious ring. Polidoro naively believes Rosina plans to marry him. After a drunken lunch the brothers almost get into a fistfight. Rosina, who thinks she may fall for Cassandro, has second thoughts when she sees him drunk. Fracasso kicks up a fuss about the ring and challenges Cassandro to a duel over Rosina’s honour. Polidoro demands Cassandro cough up half of their joint inheritance. Meanwhile, sergeant Simone puts Giacinta into hiding. Then Fracasso tells the brothers that Giacinta has absconded with their family fortune. Ninetta’s disappearance follows shortly after. Cassandro and Polidoro finally give in and agree that whoever can bring the two girls back should be allowed to marry them, as long as the valuables “La Finta Semplice” is an opera buffa are returned. Simone and Fracasso volunteer to go on the search. Just as expected Simone finds Ninetta and they rejoice in the prospect of an impending nuptial. Fracasso finds Giacinta, who remains unsure that her brothers will accede to their marriage. Now it’s Rosina’s turn to first continue leading Polidoro on and then questions his ability to support her in the lavish lifestyle to which she has become accustomed. At the last moment Rosina switches her affection to Cassandro. Polidoro is infuriated, though he is also overjoyed with the safe return of the other two couples. Cassandro then realises he has been tricked but his anger is appeased by Rosina. As in most comedies, a happy ending wraps up this saga of love and trickery. Featuring many beautifully written arias by Mozart, “La Finta Semplice” is full of artistic flourishes enhanced with comedic moments ideal for Hong Kong audiences.