This was to be the end of the line for Italian word-setting by Viennese composers: once the confident sentiments that belonged to the poet Metastasio's opera seria felt the chill and threatening wind of Enlightenment and Revolution, their time was up. Even we, for the most part, prefer to remember the German-speaking Beethoven, Schubert and Haydn. So it is good to be reminded of their responses to the Italian muse (usually as part of their craft-learning student work) in this particularly well-cast recital. Central Europe, in the person of Andras Schiff meets Italy, in Cecilia Bartoli, to delightful, often revelatory effect.
The Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli is one of the most charming and talented singers to appear on the scene in recent years, and this collection of Italian songs by three great opera composers–Bellini, Donizetti, and Rossini–is a most deserving bestseller. There are many small pleasures in the selections, which reflect the bel canto predilections of their authors, and Bartoli renders them artfully. Some will be familiar even to casual listeners (Rossini's La Danza, the famous tarantella); others will be new to most, but equally deserving of a hearing. The sensitive and skillful accompaniment is by conductor-pianist James Levine.
In the early 1990s Daniel Barenboim recorded the three Da Ponte operas with the Berlin Philharmonic. The BPO had played "Figaro" and "Don Giovanni" many times, but this was the first time that the group had ever tackled "Cosi fan tutte." Perhaps that is why they sound so fresh and energized under the thoughtful baton of Barenboim. Mozart's operas are usually performed with a small chamber or opera house orchestra, but this time the score of "Cosi" (which has so many beautiful, subtle touches, and is almost a celebration of beauty itself) is given the full treatment of perhaps the greatest orchestra in the world. While the resulting sound is somewhat "bigger" and more "lush" than is usual, Barenboim does manage to keep things appropriately light and "classical," just as he has so successfully done in the piano concertos which he is recording with the BPO.
Rossini’s unusual scoring of the drama calls for three tenor supporting roles – here sung to universal acclaim by long-standing Bartoli collaborators John Osborn and Javier Camarena and newcomer Edgardo Rocha. Bartoli’s dramatic command and vocal presence dominate the stage and reveal her artistry to be entering a rich new stage of development.
It is probably now or never. With classic older sets vying with a clutch of more recent recordings, there is currently as complete and interesting an array of recordings of Rossini's La Cenerentola as we are likely to get at any one time. Among recent versions, Chailly's new Decca set is self-evidently a powerful contender. Cecilia Bartoli is arguably the most personable and musically accomplished Cenerentola since Teresa Berganza recorded the role with Abbado in 1971; and there is a strong cast of supporting principals, among them Alessandro Corbelli who offers the best characterized Dandini since Bruscantini. (With the added advantage of being far more technically expert in fioriture passages than was his distinguished predecessor.)
A beautiful scenic film by Olivier Simonnet. Filmed in high-definition widescreen. Cecilia Bartoli sings virtuoso arias from her Sacrificium album, on location in and around the spectacular baroque palace of Caserta in Southern Italy, just outside of Naples. This unique film shows Cecilia Bartoli in full costume singing a selection of showpiece arias written for the castrato stars of the Neapolitan school. Ravishing locations including the Court Theatre, the stunning Vestibule and the Palace Gardens. Arias include Handel's "Ombra mai fu" and Broschi's "Son qual nave"–previously only available in the deluxe version of the album. The film also showcases the leading Italian period ensemble Il Giardino Armonico under their director Giovanni Antonini. Special bonus features include an illustrated interview in which Cecilia Bartoli talks about the Sacrificium project, and a visual guide to the Palace, town and region of Caserta. (amazon.com)
Cecilia Bartoli remains one of the world's finest Rossini singers and she proves it again with Il Turco in Italia, her 1st complete Rossini recording since 1993. The performance was recorded in Milan, with the power of the La Scala Orchestra & Chorus and the best Rossini an cast possible, led - of course - by Cecilia Bartoli's coloratura, more brilliant than ever.