La finta giardiniera

Act I

The Podestà is in love with Sandrina, his new garden attendant, much to the chagrin of his servant Serpetta, who is in love with him. Sandrina, however, is actually the disguised Violante, who is searching for her lover Belfiore who a year ago stabbed her and fled, believing her dead. Sandrina’s companion and supposed cousin, Nardo (really her servant, Roberto), is in love with Serpetta.

Arminda, the Podestà’s niece, has spurned her admirer Ramiro for a new suitor. Sandrina is distraught to discover that Arminda’s new suitor is none other than her own errant lover Belfiore. When Belfiore arrives, he recognises Sandrina as Violante, but she refuses to admit her true identity. As Arminda senses that something is awry and fears losing Belfiore to Sandrina, Ramiro’s hopes of winning Arminda back are rekindled.

Act II

After dismissing Ramiro, Arminda confronts Belfiore about Sandrina. Nardo vainly woos Serpetta. Sandrina continues to deny that she is Violante, and goes so far as to tell Belfiore that she witnessed Violante’s death. When Ramiro arrives and accuses Belfiore of murdering

Violante, Sandrina finally admits that she is Violante. Left alone with Belfiore, she tells him that it was merely a ruse to save him, and he loses his reason.

Her marriage to Belfiore threatened, Arminda abandons Sandrina in a desolate place. Nardo discovers the plot and leads a search for Sandrina.

Confused and terrified, Sandrina also loses her reason and runs away. The search party arrives, but the darkness causes chaos. When Ramiro appears with a light, Belfiore and Sandrina find each other and imagine themselves to be Greek gods and the onlookers to be forest nymphs.

Act III

The reunited Sandrina/Violante and Belfiore awaken, their senses restored, and decide that they must never part.