Cecilia Bartoli performed in Brussels on 13 November 2014. I have been waiting for about eight months to listen to her St Petersburg album live performance. What a treat!
Before going to the concert I read a negative review in The Telegraph and I must admit that “de gustibus non est disputandum”. Once more I did not doubt about Bartoli’s work, skills and taste. She could not perform poorly, which would have been against her musical credo, as an opera singer, recitalist, researcher and musicologist.
Bartoli, the researcher
In an interview (in French) by Mehdi Mahdavi (France), shortly before the concert in Brussels, Bartoli explains that she wanted to identify the Italian composers who influenced the Russian Baroque, by searching the archives of St Petersburg’s Mariinsky Library.
She says that according to the history of music, Mikhail Glinka is acknowledged as the father of the Russian classical music. According to Bartoli’s discoveries, the Baroque music is the foundation of the classical music in the Tsarist Russia.
She bases her statement on the St Petersburg album, which brings together a number of forgotten masterpieces, which were authored by Italian and German composers. These composers worked at the Russian court of Anna, Elizabeth and Catherine the Great, three famous Tsaristas.
Bartoli, the singer
While Callas is acknowledged as the queen of the Belcanto, Bartoli is the queen of the Baroque, for sure. Bartoli is able to cover both soprano and mezzo-soprano ranges.
Singing in both Italian and Russian, Bartoli, who is an intelligent performer, is aware of the cultural value of the masterpieces she unveils in the St Petersburg album.
In the same interview, Bartoli says that she learned Russian to make her performance credible, as some Russian sounds do not exist in Italian and the pronunciation in Russian requires long preparation.
Teaming up with I Barocchisti under the direction of Diego Fasolis, well-known Baroque musicians, Bartoli once more defends her reputation of a solid technique, breathtaking coloratura and virtuosity.
One of her performances is “Pastor che a notte ombrosa” of Francesco Domenico Araia, where the voice goes hand-in-hand with bird sounds, virtuously reproduced by the talented instrumentalists.
It is worth noting other two pieces, a soft and shining musical dialogue between Bartoli and two instruments: the oboe and the clarinet.
My favourite pieces are “Razverzi pyos gortani, laya” and “Idu na smert” from Altsesta, by Hermann Raupach.
Cecilia Bartoli came on the stage with a white gown and a long train and left it in a white coat, toque and cuff, after offering five encores. The captivated public responded with generous applauses. The scene outfits were a smart choice to transpose the audience into those old times when the music was written.
Cecilia Bartoli charmed the audience with her rich voice, its colour, stage presence, spontaneity, engaging openness and artistic honesty. She does not only master the singing art, but also the art of opening the audience’s hearts to feel the emotions.
It was a royal evening of nostalgic music with melancholic arias and discoveries, all well mastered by Cecilia Bartoli.