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Chamber Music - Released November 10, 2017 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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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Opera Extracts - Released January 1, 2007 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Distinctions Choc du Monde de la Musique - Diapason d'or / Arte - RTL d'Or - Diamant d'Opéra
In this tribute to the great nineteenth century mezzo-soprano, Maria Malibran, Cecilia Bartoli sings selections from the repertoire for which Malibran was known. Malibran also ventured into soprano roles, and Bartoli bravely and entirely successfully follows her into that territory. In fact, the primary impression the CD creates is astonishment and awe at the extraordinary range of these selections, and Bartoli's ease, absolute security, and seamless delivery, from above the treble staff to the middle of the bass staff. Hummel's Air à la Tirolienne avec variations may not be a musical masterpiece, but as a showcase for Bartoli's range, dizzying coloratura, and yodeling ability, it is breathtaking. The collection is made up of much music written especially for Malibran, and besides giving Bartoli a chance to dazzle, the pieces are irrefutable testimony to how remarkable an artist Malibran must have been. Some of the most striking pieces are the recitative and aria from her father's opera La Figlia dell'aria, a concert scena and aria by Mendelssohn, and a song by Malibran herself, which requires both a command of extended vocal techniques and a sense of humor, and Bartoli brings it off with panache. One of the strengths of the collection is its inclusion of so much repertoire that's virtually unknown today. Only three excerpts from Bellini operas and one by Rossini are likely to be familiar to most opera lovers. Bartoli's "Casta Diva" is a marvel of purity, restraint, and emotional vulnerability, and is by itself worth the price of the album. Adam Fischer conducts Orchestra La Scintilla in lively accompaniments to Bartoli's vibrant and supple performances. The CD should be of strong interest to any fans of early nineteenth century coloratura repertoire. © TiVo
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Classical - Released May 21, 2013 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année - Hi-Res Audio
Performed on early 19th century instruments and presented with brisk tempos, bright tone colors, and a lean ensemble sound, this 2013 Decca recording of Vincenzo Bellini's tragic opera Norma strives to re-create the authentic vocal style and instrumental sonorities that would have been heard at its premiere. This reading is based on a critical study of the manuscript and other sources by Maurizio Biondi and Riccardo Minasi. To the extent that Cecilia Bartoli is able to re-create the historical role of Norma and remove the modern associations that came with time (especially from the 20th century performances by Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, and Montserrat Caballé), she impresses with a lighter voiced and agile heroine who is wholly believable in this highly florid bel canto role. Bartoli is joined by Sumi Jo as Adalgisa, John Osborn as Pollione, and Michele Pertusi as Oroveso, and this cast was chosen to match their vocal qualities and to create expressive balance. The Orchestra La Scintilla is conducted by Giovanni Antonini, who communicates a lively and sometimes pugnacious interpretation of the score, notably in the incisive playing of the winds and timpani. While there is much to praise in this recording, purists may raise an eyebrow over the lowered pitch of the entire opera, tuned to A430. Furthermore, they may be disturbed by the unexpected modulation at the opening of "Casta diva" and myriad embellishments in its second verse, where Bartoli imitates the dazzling effects that were expected of a singer in Bellini's day. However, a real drawback is the sound of the recording, which was made in a church, necessitating extremely close microphone placement and audio enhancements that sound artificially mixed. Even so, considering the merits of Bartoli's bold reassessment of this time-honored role, and the complete rethinking of performance practices to bring them in line with the latest scholarship, this recording deserves a serious hearing, even if it doesn't win over all traditionalists or replace cherished performances from the past. © TiVo
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Opera Extracts - Released November 23, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik - 5 étoiles de Classica
This new Vivaldi album marks a double anniversary, the thirty-year anniversary of the close collaboration between Cecilia Bartoli and the famous English label Decca, and the twenty-year anniversary of the very successful first Vivaldian opus. This time leaving behind Giovanni Antonini and his Il Giardino Armonico ensemble, Cecilia Bartoli has selected French musicians well versed in Vivaldi’s music, as if to demonstrate the universal nature of the Red Priest’s compositions. In fact, Jean-Christophe Spinosi and his Ensemble Matheus have distinguished themselves with Vivaldi’s instrumental music since their early days. They started off their collaboration with five concerts, dedicated of course to the Venetian composer, in Munich, Prague, Baden-Baden and Versailles. For their first recording together they selected ten opera titles, nine of which weren’t featured on the 1999 album. The plethora of Vivaldi operas provides an endless supply to recitalists who can easily put together, as is the case here, an extremely lively programme featuring the most beautiful gems of an extraordinarily expansive composer whose melodic liveliness has been a constantly fascinating topic. This release is also beautiful in itslef (accessible on your Qobuz account), as it features a photo book containing beautiful portraits of Cecila Bartoli taken by Roman photographer Viviane Purdom, who has devoted her life to masterfully shooting great classical musicians. Happy anniversary indeed! © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Opera Extracts - Released October 13, 2014 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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 September 24, 2012 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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. © TiVo
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released January 1, 2009 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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. © TiVo
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Classical - Released May 21, 2013 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année
Performed on early 19th century instruments and presented with brisk tempos, bright tone colors, and a lean ensemble sound, this 2013 Decca recording of Vincenzo Bellini's tragic opera Norma strives to re-create the authentic vocal style and instrumental sonorities that would have been heard at its premiere. This reading is based on a critical study of the manuscript and other sources by Maurizio Biondi and Riccardo Minasi. To the extent that Cecilia Bartoli is able to re-create the historical role of Norma and remove the modern associations that came with time (especially from the 20th century performances by Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, and Montserrat Caballé), she impresses with a lighter voiced and agile heroine who is wholly believable in this highly florid bel canto role. Bartoli is joined by Sumi Jo as Adalgisa, John Osborn as Pollione, and Michele Pertusi as Oroveso, and this cast was chosen to match their vocal qualities and to create expressive balance. The Orchestra La Scintilla is conducted by Giovanni Antonini, who communicates a lively and sometimes pugnacious interpretation of the score, notably in the incisive playing of the winds and timpani. While there is much to praise in this recording, purists may raise an eyebrow over the lowered pitch of the entire opera, tuned to A430. Furthermore, they may be disturbed by the unexpected modulation at the opening of "Casta diva" and myriad embellishments in its second verse, where Bartoli imitates the dazzling effects that were expected of a singer in Bellini's day. However, a real drawback is the sound of the recording, which was made in a church, necessitating extremely close microphone placement and audio enhancements that sound artificially mixed. Even so, considering the merits of Bartoli's bold reassessment of this time-honored role, and the complete rethinking of performance practices to bring them in line with the latest scholarship, this recording deserves a serious hearing, even if it doesn't win over all traditionalists or replace cherished performances from the past. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 16, 2000 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Secular Vocal Music - Released November 29, 2019 | Decca

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
She had to dare. Cecilia Bartoli appears on this album cover nude, androgynous, in a full beard and with hair down to her shoulders, delving deeper into the legend surrounding Farinelli, already explored with questionable sensationalism in the world of cinema and replaced with more correct historical precision in Patrick Barbier's brilliant book dedicated to the famous Neapolitan castrato. The now-lost voice of castratos made eager crowds go wild at the time, the singers carrying a certain mythical aura around them, attributed to the confusion of their gender, bathed in an ambiguous eroticism. These music lovers have not however disappeared: they're the ones rushing to hear the Italian singer's vocal prowess both in concert and on disc. For this opus dedicated to Farinelli, Cecilia Bartoli has chosen well-known melodies from the repertoire of the famous singer, varying her vocal fireworks she is so renowned for with some more dramatic, introspective tunes. Cecilia Bartoli conjures up Porpora, Hasse, Giacomelli, Caldara and Riccardo Broschi, Farinelli's own brother in a thrilling spectacle which aims, if not to uncover a hypothetical voice of the past, to replicate the chills it could produce thanks to her passion and dedication to the art. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 1, 1991 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Classical - Released January 1, 1989 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Classical - Released December 18, 2020 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet
One of the great voices of the last thirty years, Cecilia Bartoli’s discographic success is immeasurable. Since her first recitals at the end of the 80s, her decisive Vivaldi in 1999 with Il Giardino Armonico and her latest Farinelli, Bartoli presents here a small selection of her best Baroque interpretations. “Queen of Baroque” brings together some of the Roman singer’s musical pleasures as well as some major discoveries from the 17th and 18th centuries including some world firsts from Leonardo da Vinci and Agostino Steffani. A simple pleasure that we can by no means refuse. © Qobuz 
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Classical - Released January 1, 1992 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Booklet
This compilation of selections from a number of Cecilia Bartoli's recitals from between 1994 and 2009, plus several newly released tracks, is unified by the theme of sighs, "sospiri." The music expresses a variety of moods, including sighs of resignation, relaxation, grief, ecstasy, and romantic pleasure. The first of the two CDs is devoted to secular music, much of it operatic, and the second to sacred pieces. The album should offer few surprises to anyone who has a preconceived opinion of Bartoli's vocalism. Fans of her exuberant personality and dramatic temperament will find just what they would expect, as will detractors who are put off by what they feel to be her excessive flamboyance. In any case, whatever one's opinion of the outcome, there's no denying that Bartoli throws herself into all her projects with absolute abandon. She is so deeply invested in wringing the emotional truth out of a piece that she is not afraid to let her voice stray from the principles of bel canto singing that require that tonal beauty be maintained at all times. An example is her handling of the extraordinary, anguished 10-minute scene from Geminiano Giacomelli's Merope, which exploits her remarkable range, nuanced expressiveness, technical command, and soaring, floating tone, and in which she at points practically howls with animalistic rage. Her "Casta Diva" is sung nearly entirely sotto voce, almost whispered, a controversial choice that departs from usual interpretations, but that she convincingly puts across as valid. Her performance of "Una voca poco fa" is rather disingenuously billed as "first time on CD," promising an entirely new version of Rossini's popular aria, but in fact it is the usual piece, only very freely ornamented. Other performances are less radically original, including "Ombra mai fu," "Voi che sapete," and most of the sacred selections, but Bartoli brings her trademark depth of feeling to them. The album is beautifully engineered, with sound that is consistently first-rate, and the various accompanying ensembles are never less than stellar. Sospiri may not make fans of skeptics, but listeners devoted to Bartoli's often idiosyncratic approach are likely to be delighted with the album. © TiVo
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Classical - Released September 21, 1993 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 1992 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 1999 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 1998 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released March 2, 1998 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released September 12, 2005 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Cecilia Bartoli maintains a near-perfect mezzo-soprano instrument, which she patently refuses to expose to material that might damage it; never will we hear Bartoli in voice-destroying roles such as Carmen nor in heavyweight mezzo parts such as those encountered in Wagner's Ring cycle. Even though she is a "mainstream" classical artist, the most "modern" composer she has recorded is Pauline Viardot, and even the Decca releases that established her as a star stick to composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Rossini. Bartoli eschews powerful vocal production in favor of greater flexibility, an ideal match for Baroque and Classical literature. Although one would not have pegged Bartoli as an "early music specialist" based on her earlier recordings, clearly she has found a place as an expert interpreter of such music. In Opera Proibita, where she is accompanied by the redoubtable Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre, it is hard to imagine anyone doing better in this material, over half of it never before recorded. Opera Proibita restricts itself to a brief period in the early eighteenth century when opera was temporarily banned, owing to its alleged fostering of lewd and lascivious behavior in Italian society. During this time, composers adapted by writing highly operatic passages for the still legal form of oratorio, or developing formats such as the "Introduzione," a highly florid kind of introduction to the Latin mass that was eventually likewise struck down by the church. Although these recitatives and arias from oratorios are taken from composers ranging from George Frideric Handel and Alessandro Scarlatti to Antonio Caldara and are presented apart from the works from which they belong, there is a certain unanimity of style among them. Opera Proibita is sequenced for emotional impact rather than in a historical context, which makes for good listening even if one isn't able to keep straight who wrote what -- in this case, it almost doesn't make a difference. Bartoli is clearly the star of the show, imbuing Scarlatti's recitative and aria combo Ahi! Qual cordoglio...Doppio affetto with a blend of piety, drama, and pathos. Her sense of pitch, even in rapid fire passages of stuttering sixteenth notes, is unfailingly true; just listen to how the voice interacts with the oboes in Handel's Disserratavi, o porte d'Averno. Bartoli almost seems more in tune than the oboes do. Opera Proibita contains a fair amount of the fireworks expected by fans familiar with her Vivaldi disc with Il Giardino Armonico; however, far more time is spent in reflective, pious, and calm music that is very easy on the ears. As always, Bartoli sounds fabulous here, and Opera Proibita will prove immensely satisfying to any listener who has an appreciation for the capabilities of the human voice as an instrument. © TiVo

Artist

Cecilia Bartoli in the magazine
  • Bartoli is Farinelli
    Bartoli is Farinelli For her new album, the mezzo-soprano revisits the best parts of the repertoire of the famous Italian castrato: magical!
  • Cecilia Bartoli : Qobuz video interview
    Cecilia Bartoli : Qobuz video interview Qobuz meets the wonderful mezzo-soprano from Rome to mark the release of her record St. Petersburg. The album is devoted to the hidden treasures composed in Saint-Petersburg during the 18th century...