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Cecilia Bartoli - Maria - The Barcelona Concert & Malibran Rediscovered

Bartoli,Cecilia /
Release Date: 02/10/2009 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 001257109  
Composer:  Manuel GarciaGiuseppe PersianiFelix MendelssohnGioachino Rossini,   ... 
Performer:  Cecilia Bartoli
Conductor:  Adám Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra La Scintilla
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Low Stock: Currently 3 or fewer in stock. Usually ships in 24 hours, unless stock becomes depleted.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



MARIA: THE BARCELONA CONCERT & MALIBRAN REDISCOVERED & Cecilia Bartoli (mez); Ada Pesch (vn, 1 cond); Adam Fischer, cond; 2 Daniel Caesares (gtr); 3 Maxim Vengerov (vn); 4 O La Scintilla (period instruments) DECCA 074 3252 (2 DVDs: 147:00) Live: Barcelona 11/4/2007


Read more class="COMPOSER12">GARCÍA La figlia dell’aria: E non lo vedo . . . Son regina. El poeta calculista: Yo que soy contrabandista. 3 PERSIANI Ines de Castro: Cari giorni. MENDELSSOHN Infelice (2 versions). 1, 2,4 ROSSINI La cenerentola: Nacqui all’affanno . . . Non più mesta. Otello: Assisa al pi d’un salice . . . Deh, calma. BALFE The Maid of Artois: Yon moon o’er the mountains. HUMMEL Air à la Tirolienne avec variations. BELLINI La sonnambula: Ah! non credea mirarti . . . Ah, non giunge. Norma: Casta diva. 2 MALIBRAN O dolce incanto ( L’elisir d’amore replacement aria). Rataplan


& Malibran Rediscovere d: Bartoli researches Malibran. Glimpses Backstage


The fine line that is often drawn or not drawn between art and entertainment is often a murky one. One may agree with tenor Jon Vickers, for instance, that “art is not entertainment, art is a challenge . . . it asks great questions of us but does not provide answers.” On the other hand, even Vickers acknowledged that a patron who went to see a great artist like Maria Callas got both art and the cult of personality in one package. The same may be said for mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli, who over the past decade has enriched her career and the lives of her admirers by dauntlessly excavating the forgotten operatic music of Vivaldi, the florid early operas of Gluck, and now the far more elusive performance style of Maria Malibran.


As I mentioned when reviewing Bartoli’s Malibran-inspired CD ( Fanfare 30:6), this is a project that combines art and entertainment on a very high level. It is also a tremendous service to posterity to revive the very particular style of a specific bel canto singer for whom artistic truth was as important as vocal pyrotechnics. Malibran, like Maria Callas after her, found safety and comfort on the opera stage as an alternative to her abusive and all-too-harsh private life. Even more than Callas, Malibran lived life to the max, riding, hunting, fencing, and hiking, in addition to being an artist and an accomplished composer. She wrote inserted arias to Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore and other operas, as well as a Rataplan far better than the one Verdi wrote for La forza del destino.


Callas, of course, was also drawn to Malibran, and used her as a model for her own bel canto revivals of the 1950s. Yet Callas was not the musicologist Bartoli is: she did not spend days or weeks hunting down original scores or “Malibran editions” of famous operas and arias, in an attempt to resuscitate the Malibran style. She merely went by written reports of Malibran’s singing and her own dramatic instincts. Undoubtedly, the two Callas recordings that closest resemble Malibran’s magical combination of wistfulness, inner strength, sexual energy, and exaltation were Lucia di Lammermoor (particularly the 1955 version with Karajan) and La sonnambula . But for all her skill as an interpreter, for all her hard work on her voice, Callas could never really make her voice “float,” suspend it in mid-air as an almost palpable thing independent of her physical being. Malibran could, and so can Cecilia Bartoli.


Listening to and watching Bartoli, one is brought into the vortex of Malibran’s magic. Of course, Bartoli as Bartoli is already a potent force: upbeat, energetic, extroverted, always working to improve her voice and interpretations. But Bartoli as Malibran adds another dimension to her art, for now she is not just representing Adina in L’elisir , Desdemona in Otello , or Rossini’s Cenerentola , but Malibran as Adina, Desdemona, and Cenerentola. The difference will be clear if you compare this version of Cenerentola’s “Non più mesta” to the one Bartoli recorded as “herself.” This one is more florid, more ethereal, more humorous, yet at the same time more “artificial” in the sense that Bartoli is projecting the spirit of Malibran into the spirit of Rossini’s character. One seriously doubts that Malibran could have presented as dark and three-dimensional a character onstage as Gluck’s Iphigenie or Cherubini’s Medea as Callas did, yet it was exactly this bewitching power of the voice as projected by her personality that knocked such artistically sensitive listeners as Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Halevy, Berlioz, and Verdi sideways with shock and delight. They could not get enough of Malibran; she inspired them; and Bartoli’s recreation indicates why.


I personally recommend watching the documentary DVD before the concert, as I did. It gives you a decent background to Malibran’s life, personality, and art, as well as the extent of Bartoli’s research and dedication to her. She eventually became so attuned to Malibran’s style that she could look at a score and imagine the emotions Malibran wanted to project at certain phrases within each aria. Here, too, one can hear a recording of Bartoli’s mother as Violetta in La traviata (their voices had nearly identical timbres), a snippet of her father as a tenor, and an amateur tape of Bartoli’s own operatic debut, age eight, as the Shepherd in Tosca. The documentary also includes two performance clips not on the recital, the recording session of Mendelssohn’s Infelice with violinist Vengerov (not identified in the booklet) and Norma’s Casta diva. I’m still unsure why Bartoli chose to perform the simple, lyrical Balfe air when Malibran herself had crossed the music out of the score! (Apparently, she didn’t like such a simple, unadorned melody. In performance, Bartoli adds a few embellishments to spice it up.)


The video concert, which I assume was given shortly after she finished recording the Maria CD in 2007, includes three arias not on the CD: the Balfe song, Cenerentola’s “Non più mesta,” and Desdemona’s scene from the Rossini Otello . I’m still not convinced that the Rossini Otello is good music; on the contrary, it still strikes me as some of the most formulaic and least appealing music he ever wrote, sort of like Verdi’s Il corsaro. It keeps trying to be “real” Rossini, but never quite arrives there. The first violinist of the wonderful period-instruments Orchestra La Scintilla, Ada Pesch, doubles as conductor as well as soloist in Mendelssohn’s Infelice. This is a dazzling concert and a most worthwhile project, for which I commend Bartoli with all my heart.


FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

1.
La figlia dell'aria: E non lo vedo...Son regina by Manuel Garcia
Performer:  Cecilia Bartoli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Adám Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra La Scintilla
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1826; New York 
2.
El poeta calculista: Yo que soy contrabandista by Manuel Garcia
Performer:  Cecilia Bartoli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Adám Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra La Scintilla
Period: Classical 
3.
Ines de Castro: Cari giorni by Giuseppe Persiani
Performer:  Cecilia Bartoli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Adám Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra La Scintilla
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1835; Italy 
4.
Infelice, Op. 94 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Cecilia Bartoli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Adám Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra La Scintilla
Period: Romantic 
Written: Germany 
5.
La Cenerentola: Nacqui all' affano...Non più mesta by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Cecilia Bartoli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Adám Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra La Scintilla
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1817; Italy 
6.
Otello: Assisa a piè d'un salice by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Cecilia Bartoli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Adám Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra La Scintilla
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Italy 
7.
The Maid of Artois: Yon moon o'er the mountains by Michael Balfe
Performer:  Cecilia Bartoli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Adám Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra La Scintilla
8.
Air à la tirolienne avec variations, Op. 118 by Johann Nepomuk Hummel
Performer:  Cecilia Bartoli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Adám Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra La Scintilla
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1829 
9.
La sonnambula: Ah, non credea mirarti by Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Cecilia Bartoli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Adám Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra La Scintilla
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831; Italy 
10.
Oh dolce incanto by Maria Malibran
Performer:  Cecilia Bartoli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Adám Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra La Scintilla
Notes: Composed for inclusion within "L'Elisir d'Amore" by Gaetano Donizetti. 
11.
Rataplan by Maria Malibran
Performer:  Cecilia Bartoli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Adám Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra La Scintilla

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