La fuga in maschera

I find it interesting the way some opera composers become canonical to the point where their most unsuccessful (often deservedly so) works still get produced while others, equally famous in their day, disappear pretty much entirely.  One of the latter group is Gaspare Spontini who had a long career stretching from the the late 18th into the middle of the 19th centuries during which he was active in Italy, Paris, Vienna and Germany.  There was a revival of his La Vestale at La Scala with Visconti directing and Callas in the title role but otherwise the 20th century pretty much ignored him.  So obscure had he become that the Wikipedia entry for his operas describes his La fuga in maschera as “genre unknown”.  Perhaps that’s not so surprising as the work was last performed in 1800 and the score was thought to be lost until it turned up in an English bookshop in 2007.  Subsequently it was performed in 2012 at the Teatro GB Pergolesi in Jesi as part of the Festival Pergolesi Spontini.

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Pergolesi double bill

Pergolesi’s relatively popular comedy La serva padrona was originally intended to be performed as an intermezzo for his opera seria Il prigionier superbo.  It’s therefore fitting that recordings by substantially the same forces, though recorded two years apart, should be released as a package.  The recordings were made at the Teatro G.B. Pergolesi in Jesi in 2009 and 2011 respectively.  Both performances were directed by Henning Brockhaus and feature the Accademia Barocca di I Virtuosi Italiani conducted by Corrado Rovaris.  The works are presented on separate disks rather than the having the two halves of the intermezzo inserted in the intervals of the more serious work as they would originally have been performed.

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