CECILIA BARTOLI, OPERA ON THE MOVE
The sublime voice of Cecilia Bartoli rewrites the story of lyrical music, with a small secret: a return to “slow travel”
From its very beginnings, classical music has given us incomparable masterpieces, multiform universes made up of indefinable tones, notes and melodies capable of assuming their own distinct soul. If we first consider the period of the Renaissance, with the 16th-century French Pléiade around Ronsard and the Italian classicism marked by Vivaldi and Scarlatti that provided the basis for a prebaroque European 18th century (Handel and Bach) of Metastasian operatic inspiration, we can reconnect with the original soul of classical music.
This brief meta-historical prelude aids in defining the musical repertory of our contemporary Cecilia Bartoli. Born in Rome on June 4, 1966, a full-time student of Mozart-era baroque music, she has also always sought to understand the development of the Russian musical soul, diving into the original universe of names such as Aleksandr Sumarokov, Maksim Sozontovic Berezovskij, Dmytro Stepanovyc Bortnjans’kyj, and the little-known (at least in Italy) Yevstigney Fomin. Chamber or orchestral performances in this geographical macrocosm were generally performed within the context of special events such as coronations, various anniversary celebrations, or visits by prominent aristocrats. A good part of the chamber performances featuring Cecilia aim to revive those magic moments, evoking that festive and luxurious atmosphere through the study of the contents of old libretti in order to let herself be influenced by their originality. This great artist marries the new classics of lyrical
Cecilia Bartoli represents the rare case of an artist who has succeeded in combining substantial critical praise with widespread success among non-experts
music with the baroque melodies of the time of Mozart or Rossini.
“I realized that many of our composers and performers, in order to further their art, emigrated to Russia and in particular Saint Petersburg (a bit like I have done),” she said to L’espresso. “Twenty years ago, when one talked about great music, one thought above all of that from the mid-19th century onwards. Today, thanks in part to original antique instruments, we can finally widen our horizons, including so many partitions
important in the 17th and 18th centuries, from the Renaissance to the Baroque.” Under the aegis of Decca Records, founded in London in 1929 and still active, grinding out new re-issues and emerging releases of classical music, she has produced a prodigious collection of studio recordings of operas, such as The Barber of Seville (1989) and The Marriage of Figaro (1994) as well as various recitals such as the Rossini Heroines (1992), the Mozart Portraits (1993) and the Forbidden Opera (2005), which sheds light on the all of the hymns and psalms prohibited and censured by popes in the past, with arias by Handel, Caldara and Scarlatti, or the more recent Maria (2007), Sacrificium (2008), and her latest recording, St. Petersburg (2014).
This is Cecilia Bartoli, the spokesperson for the Baroque in Italy and beyond, the winner of six Gramophone Awards and five Grammys, with some ten million CDS and DVDS sold, an artist who likes to travel slowly, “like once upon a time,” by boat, transatlantic ocean liner and train, in order to fully enjoy that unique inspiration that only the contemplation of nature knows how to give.
She is an opera singer always on the move, towards new adventures, new research, new discoveries, new energies, so that she can best represent her orchestral spectacles, her reinterpretations, her restorations of “period” libretti, as well as the various recitals and concerts without ever suffering from serious physical fatigue. The secret? Simply enjoying the journey, traveling slowly.
“I believe that by fighting for one’s own ideas—if one is clear on what one wants and, especially, has strong arguments—one can realize one’s own projects”