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Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A vocally demanding light opera delivered with high musical skill but the production will not be to everyone's taste, 30 July 2014
This review is from: Spontini: La Fuga In Maschera [Viruoosi Italiani, Ruth Rosique, Caterina Di Tonho] [Blu-ray] [2014] (Blu-ray)
This opera by Spontini, a well-respected opera composer during his lifetime 1774-1851, and thought lost was discovered as recently as 2007. The opera was subsequently obtained by the municipality of Maiolati Spontini, the composer's birthplace. The first modern performance of this newly discovered work was at the Festival Pergolesi Spontini in Jesi, Italy. This recording originates from the same venue and was first published in 2014.

Spontini's writing in this light opera, a relatively early work dating from his Italian period, involves much hair-raising virtuoso writing of the essential ingredients of rhythmic repetition, motoric ensembles and play with word fragments which Rossini made much of. If anything, the writing is even more demanding of vocal dexterity than that demanded by Rossini in some of his more demanding passages.

The plot revolves around seven characters that all have conflicting interests in the matrimonial stakes. Most of these claims to matrimonial bliss are doubtful but at the end of the opera most of the complications are resolved for good or ill.

This could not be described as a deep operatic experience but no-one could doubt the vocal skills of the whole cast who despatch their vocally demanding roles with remarkable and breath-taking skill. These young singers will be ones to watch out for in the future when more emotionally demanding or convincing roles may be expected of them.

Rather than providing an in-depth consideration of each singer within this opera it should be sufficient to list them for the future as equally note-worthy. They are Ruth Rosique as Elena, Caterina Di Tonno as Olimpia, Alessandra Marianelli as Corallina, Clemente Daliotti as Nardullo, Filippo Morace as Marzucco, Alassandro Spina as Nastagio and Dionigi D'Ostuni as Doralbo.

The orchestra, the well-known I Virtuosi Italiani under Corrado Rovaris on this occasion, provide sharply characterised and scintillating playing throughout. The stage production is more likely to be controversial though.

There is much use made of projected imaging upon the stage curtain to imply alternative situations and scenery. The main male character is `supported' by three henchmen who are constantly on show and behave non-endingly in a buffoon-like manner. This, if it is intended to be humorous, is self-defeatingly laboured at best and distracting at worst. The main female figure, of superb vocal merit, is required to stand in a gawky pigeon-toed attitude throughout and one is sincerely relieved to find that this is a stage direction when she walks normally on for her well-deserved applause at the end. The whole production is set in a modern context of no particular date or location.

Technically the opera is well recorded with clear and sharp imaging. The degree of involvement will depend on one's response to the production. Sonically the product is excellent and is presented inDTS-HD5.1 and stereo. Sub-titles are provided in English, French, German and Italian. The sleeve notes are informative and interesting.

It is unlikely that potential purchasers will have much choice in this opera as regards further recordings. They will need to be very forgiving as regards the production but will be well rewarded in terms of performance. Comedy is best when not over-worked and this is very over-worked.

As a recording of an early work by a major opera composer of the time this will be of interest, especially to collectors. The musical contributions of all the performers leave little to be desired. The production will almost certainly be controversial.
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Review Details



I. Giles

Location: Argyll, Scotland

Top Reviewer Ranking: 16