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Classical - Released January 1, 2012 | Decca

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte - Choc de Classica - Hi-Res Audio
Don't hate this album because it has been beautifully marketed, for if you do you'll miss out on something extraordinary. Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli reportedly worked on it for three years, even suggesting a mystery-novel tie-in, and her label, Decca, kept the contents under wraps until the album's release, dropping hints via Internet videos. When the album appeared, it was issued in a limited-edition hardbound package including numerous essays covering aspects of the life of the composer involved, Agostino Steffani. These range from the cogent and helpful (one details Steffani's influence on Handel) to the probably woolly, shading off into the fictional treatment that's also associated with the project. The album's title reflects the fact that Steffani was a composer-diplomat, born in Italy but active for much of his life in Germany, and surrounded by various kinds of intrigue that seem to figure tangentially into some of the arias on the album. This is all intriguing, and if it spawns a feature film somewhere along the way that's all to the good, but the best news is that none of it is necessary; you can buy the album online or in its plain jewel-box version, familiarize yourself briefly with what it's about, and then be blown away. Perhaps part of Bartoli's "mission" was to elevate the music of the little-known Steffani; if so, she succeeds brilliantly, and one hopes that the release will be followed by full productions of some of Steffani's operas. Stylistically he's all over the map, with some barn-burning virtuoso arias mixed in with splendid trumpet-dominated pieces (Bartoli's interaction here with conductor Diego Fasolis and his orchestra I Barocchisti is a thing of wonder), and shorter tunes that sound a bit like Purcell. Bartoli is on top of every note, and she combines absolute technical mastery with emotional involvement to the hilt in the music's mostly flamboyantly romantic texts. This is a bravura performance that lives up to its considerable hype, and it marks a new milestone for the historical-performance movement, which finally gets a vocalist who can match the efforts of its more imaginative conductors.
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Opera Extracts - Released January 1, 2013 | Decca

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diamant d'Opéra
Cecilia Bartoli takes us on a journey leading from Italy to Russia which traces the development of opera in St. Petersburg. Through the actions of three powerful Tsarists, the previously non-existent musical life of the entire nation was awoken: Anna of Russia (Anna Ivanovna), Elizabeth I (Elizabeth Petrovna, daughter of Peter the Great) and Catherine II (Sophia Augusta Frederica of Anhalt-Zerbst). In addition to attracting performers, they also attracted many Italian composers, the first of whom would be Francesco Araia, followed by Manfredini and Cimarosa, among others. The program of this album follows original themes adored by Bartoli herself, and includes some long lost treasures by other composers such as Hermann Friedrich Raupach - the first harpsichordist and composer of the court following the dismissal of Araia. It is by sifting through the archives of the Mariinsky Theatre that Cecilia Bartoli has gathered this anthology opera excerpts, most of which are previously unpublished.
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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Decca

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année - Hi-Res Audio
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released January 1, 2009 | Decca

Booklet Distinctions Diapason découverte - Choc de Classica
It has been a long three years since Cecilia Bartoli's previous release, Maria, brought nineteenth century coloratura Maria Malibran into the public consciousness. Decca's Sacrificium -- which reunites Bartoli with expert period band Il Giardino Armonico for the first time since 1999's The Vivaldi Album -- certainly makes clear that it was well worth the wait. In keeping with her long series of themed collections of opera arias, in this release Bartoli explores literature associated with the long lost vocal range of the castrati, male singers who were surgically altered in puberty in order to retain the high end of their voices into adulthood. The outlawing of castrati in Italy in 1870 brought this vicious practice to an end, but it also condemned two centuries' worth of operatic and sacred music to obscurity owing to the unsuitability of ordinary voices to sing in this special range; since then, a number of male countertenors have come to grips with it, with varying degrees of success, and an increasing number of females -- usually altos -- have been adopting castrato literature, as well. Bartoli -- a mezzo-soprano -- has got an amazing top end, well demonstrated in the earlier Maria release, but here she exhibits the bottom of her range to stunning effect; at one point when she dips down low in Francesco Araia's aria "Cadrò, ma qual si mira," Bartoli sounds like a man. While there are plenty of male singers who can approximate female voice, for it to go the other way around is indeed rare. Also rare are the 12 selections on the main disc, every one of them a premiere recording of some kind. Bartoli has long established herself as an advocate for neglected or little known literature, and there is such a wealth of unused castrato literature that coming by such material probably wasn't difficult, but it also seems the album's producers were quite careful in finding examples that were representative of the theme, musically challenging for Bartoli and of generally excellent quality; even Il Giardino Armonico gets a great workout in "Nobil onda," an aria from Nicola Porpora's 1723 opera Adelaide. It is Porpora who emerges from this material as the champion composer for castrati, which is gratifying; an increasing number of Porpora releases in the times leading up to Sacrificium makes clear that he was one of the greats among Western composers and it's nice to see a major label like Decca pay some homage to him. However, Sacrificium's compilers have not lost sight of the unique talents of the star performer; no one would accuse Porpora's "Usignolo sventurato" from the opera Siface as being a great aria, with its limited range and texture. However, Bartoli's sensuous delivery and bold characterization of the piece makes something very special out of it, a major highlight of the program. Bartoli's voice is of a quality that cuts through the veils of history and delivers this obscure music with absolute perfection; Decca's Sacrificium should easily please all comers.
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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Decca

Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année
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Classical - Released January 1, 1991 | Decca

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Classical - Released January 1, 1989 | Decca

Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Classical - Released January 1, 2000 | Decca

Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Classical - Released November 10, 2017 | Decca

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
This is a gentle kind of duet, which sets up Cecilia Bartoli "opposite" cellist Sol Gabetta, if we can speak of "opposition". The two stars chose a few airs out of the baroque repertoire where the composers have included a part for cello, and the two lines intertwine against the backdrop of the continuo or the orchestra. Albinoni, Caldara, Haendel and many others have often married the cello's deep voice with the light, airy tones of the soprano in a game of mirrors, contrasts, and "he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not”... This highly original billing benefits not only from the duettists' clear talents, but also the involvement of the Capella Gabetta led by the violinist Andrés Gabetta - to be sure, in the duets of old it wasn't the done thing for other performers to get involved, but in this instance, it adds up to a perfect balance. It's certainly not the end of the world - or of this duet! This album, highly original, is one of September's nicest surprises.
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Classical - Released January 1, 2010 | Decca

Booklet
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released January 1, 2005 | Decca

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Classical - Released January 1, 2003 | Decca

The people of Legnago, Italy, must be jumping for joy. For years they have championed their maligned native son, composer Antonio Salieri, against obscurity and the fictional notion that he killed Mozart (thanks to Peter Shaffer's Amadeus). Now Cecilia Bartoli has released a tribute to Salieri's operatic music that she hopes will "accord him the status he deserves." There is unlikely to be a sea change in Salieri's reputation, but having a superstar of Bartoli's caliber weigh in on his music certainly gives him a shot in the arm. It's a gem of an album, as good or better than her similar projects devoted to Vivaldi and Gluck. Along with Adam Fischer and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Bartoli delivers a virtuosic set of performances, full of vibrancy and color, and always lovingly tailored to the dramatic and musical demands of the piece at hand. It is extremely entertaining, and the packaging is nothing short of deluxe. The music is a smorgasbord of stylistic elements. In a sense, this helps explain Salieri's "tough-sell" factor. In any one excerpt a listener may hear traces of everything from Mozart to Rameau -- even early Schubert. The variety can be overwhelming, and at times compromises the compositional integrity. But it also throws open the expressive doors, allowing for an unlimited palette of orchestral effects and vocal gestures. The opening "Son quell lacera tartana" is as furious as any bravura aria, with large vocal leaps, raucous horns, and turbulent string accompaniment. "Misera abbandonata," from Palmira, regina di Persia, is a lyrical masterpiece -- simple and pathetic. And lighter numbers, like "La Ra La" from La grotta di Trofonia, show that both Salieri and Bartoli know how to handle comedy with style. This is an album not to be missed.
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Classical - Released January 1, 1999 | Decca

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Classical - Released January 1, 1993 | Decca

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Classical - Released January 1, 1992 | Decca

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Cecilia Bartoli in the magazine
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