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.
In collaboration with Giovanni Antonini, Riccardo Minasi and Maurizio Biondi, Cecilia Bartoli restores the sound and spirit of Norma in a landmark Decca recording based on the opera’s original sources. Cecilia Bartoli leads a fabulous cast in Decca’s groundbreaking new recording, which presents Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma in a form that is complete with the exquisite mix of vocal and instrumental colours that Bellini intended for his ‘tragic opera’.
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.
One of the greatest artists of her generation, Cecilia Bartoli is at the height of her powers. With thrilling performances of Mozart and Haydn arias, recorded live in concert, this double disc set also includes symphonic performances from Nikolaus Harnoncourt and his Concentus Musicus Wien.
Cecilia Bartoli’s exploration of the music of Steffani continues on from her best-selling recording ‘Mission’ with an album of the celebrated Stabat Mater alongside Steffani’s greatest sacred works for chorus, orchestra and soloists, constituting the most comprehensive collection of Steffani’s sacred choral music on CD. Bartoli leads an array of internationally celebrated singers including countertenor Franco Fagioli, the bass Salvo Vitale and the two young German tenors Daniel Behle and Julian Prégardien. Diego Fasolis conducts the authentic instrument forces of I Barocchisti and the chorus of RSI Lugano
This new disc from the Zurich Opera presents just about as thoughtful and coherent account of Rossini's Otello as one could hope for. This isn't the first time the company has made something of a splash with the bel canto repertory. Some will remember their CD release, a few years back, of Bellini's Norma, also featuring Bartoli. That set got very mixed reviews, and those who hated that will probably hate this too, no doubt before they even watch it. But for those not initiated in the trench warfare that music loving often attracts, this disc will be most welcome. The world class cast, led by Cecilia Bartoli and tenor John Osborn, are (mostly) young, committed and talented. They deliver, here, an intense performance that makes a very strong case for this neglected opera… By Stephen McLeod
Having been a fan of Le Comte d’Ory for a while, I was delighted to get the latest version available on media. This one from Zurich and on Blu-Ray. And does not disappoint. Bartoli once again in her career takes on a difficult soprano role very successfully. Camarena is new to me, and was pleased with both his acting and singing. Niketeanu did a great job as Ragonde and Olvera, again new to me, did a beautiful singing and acting job a Isolier. The weakest part was sung by Widmer as Rambaud, but then I was never a Widmer fan. All in all a very satisfying experience.
Now, which one do I recommend? The first video recording from Glyndebourne from 1997 is, in my humble opinion the best of the three available. The three principals are superb, especially Laho and Montague, and the production is probably more like what the people saw at the premier. The Met version is also good, but lacks in acting. By Conrad Perl
Does Jaroussky's sweet soprano capture the elemental intensity of a real castrato? We will never quite know, but seven world premiere aria recordings here expand our understanding of Porpora's skill.