SPONTINI La Fuga in Maschera was rediscovered only in 2007 and it was first performed again (and filmed) in Iesi’s Teatro GB Pergolesi in 2012, over two centuries after its premiere run in Naples in 1800. It’s a work that’s worlds away from the austere classicism of La vestale, Spontini’s best-known opera, but is more or less what one might expect from a comedy of the period.
There are hints of Cimarosa, possibly one of Spontini’s teachers, and it is vaguely reminiscent of Mozart and prescient of Rossini. That it has little of the distinctiveness or depth of either of those two great composers is less a complaint than a mere observation, for on its own terms it’s an enjoyable piece. The young Spontini’s music is skilful and fluent, and has a charming tendency to resort to toe-tapping patter arias and ensembles. Leo Muscato’s production thrives on comic exaggeration and can’t quite resist the temptation occasionally to map silly dancing on to those rhythms. Otherwise, though, in smartly stylised designs, it does a reasonably good job, clearly on a budget, of presenting the work’s convoluted plot – a mixture of stock characters falling for the wrong people, deceptions, buffoonery, confusion and, after a play-within-a-play, reconciliation and coupling-off of the principals. It’s a shame, though, that EuroArts didn’t think to include a full synopsis in the booklet.
The cast is fine, with Ruth Rosique in particular doing a good job with her tricky coloratura as Elena, the attractive but scatterbrained daughter of the painter Marzucco, vividly acted and sung by Filippo Morace. Caterina Di Tonno offers a fine comic turn as the less appealing niece Olimpia, while Clemente Daliotti brings charm to the rustic but wily Nardullo, who finally ends up with Elena. The playing of I Virtuosi Italiani is a bit ragged at times but Corrado Rovaris keeps the score ticking along nicely.