Cecilia Bartoli

Les Arts Florissants' 2nd Performance of Giulio Cesare

Scholl2010 * Notes *
The second performance of Giulio Cesare at Salle Pleyel came together better than the first. Les Arts Florissants sounded more cohesive. The concertmaster did not break any strings this time, and her intonation was more accurate, but her playing for "Se in fiorito ameno prato" was still screechy and not beautiful. The horn soloist still hit many unpleasant notes in "Va tacito e nascosto" but her mistakes were less grating than on Tuesday. However, the three horns in the March of the last scene were awful, and were laughed at by various audience members.

The singing was consistent, the cast is extraordinary. Philippe Jaroussky (Sesto) and Nathalie Stutzmann (Cornelia) were definitely at their best in their duet at the end of Act I. Cecilia Bartoli was delicate and sweet in "Vadoro pupille." She also sang "Piangero la sorte mia" exquistely. Andreas Scholl seemed less tense than before, his voice came out more, though he was difficult to hear during "Al lampo dell' armi." He did cough twice during the concert. Scholl sang "Dall'ondoso periglio...Aure, deh, per pietà" with particular elegance.

* Tattling * 
The clapping did not start as early as it had on Tuesday, and people even managed to applaud after the music was done. The audience whispered a little, and there were two very noisy watch alarms on separate occasions. There was a medical emergency in the center terrace during "Da tempeste il legno infranto." As Cecilia Bartoli sang, an older woman lost consciousness, perhaps she fainted or had a seizure. The people around her checked her pulse and tried shaking her awake, but had to fetch medical help. The woman was able to walk out of the hall, but there was a noticeable pause between Cleopatra's aria and the recitative between Cornelia and Sesto that followed.

Les Arts Florissants' Giulio Cesare

Cecilia * Notes *
The Tuesday opening of Giulio Cesare at Salle Pleyel was stunning. For one thing, most of the singing was breathtaking. Both low voices were lovely, these being Andreas Wolf (Curio) and Umberto Chiummo (Achilla). The latter enunciated particularly well, and his aria "Se a me non sei crudele" was strong. Rachid Ben Abdeslam seemed quite excited to be on stage as Nireno, as did Christophe Dumaux as Tolomeo. Dumaux is such a clown, perhaps a touch too much for the villain in an unstaged concert version of this work. On the other hand, our tragic Sesto, Philippe Jaroussky, was pitch-perfect. His voice is bright, warm, and light, gleaming above the orchestra. Nathalie Stutzmann (Cornelia) was a fine foil, her voice seemed bottomless.

In the title role, Andreas Scholl, started off quietly, and was overwhelmed by the orchestra at more than one point. His voice warmed up after the night wore on, and the second half went more smoothly than the first. Scholl did crack on one note near the end of "Dall'ondoso periglio...Aure, deh, per pietà," though he sang the rest sublimely. Cecilia Bartoli sang with beauty, she was coy when pretending to be Lidia, and imperious as Cleopatra. There were a few times when Bartoli had too much vibrato, and this wobbling had an unpleasant quality to it. However, overall the singers were wonderful.

Les Arts Florissants had a few mishaps. William Christie did keep the musicians together and his tempi seemed appropriate. In general the playing was clear and fine. However, the concertmaster broke her E string in Act I, and it took a long time for everything to get back in place. It was interesting to watch how she traded her violin with her stand mate, someone from behind passed up a good E string, and the stand mate restrung the concertmaster's violin, trying to get it in tune without disrupting the music. Unfortunately, some of the violin solos were out of tune and squeaky, though this is understandable, given the circumstances. The horn soloist also had some intonation issues, she hit a score of sour notes in "Va tacito e nascosto."

* Tattling * 
The audience was quiet, though the men behind me in the second balcony did talk during the first chorus, were hushed, and snorted derisively at the suggestion that they should be silent. Nonetheless, they did not speak again during the music. The clapping was vehement, and although we were asked to not applaud after each number, somehow our enthusiasm got the better of us. It was a shame that some of us could not wait until after the orchestra stopped playing to cheer and clap.

Cecilia Bartoli's Sacrificium Puzzle

Cecilia-bartoli-sacrificium Mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli's latest CD, being released today in the US, is about the Age of Castrati. Entitled Sacrificium, Ms. Bartoli collaborates with Il Giardino Armonico, the early music ensemble headed by Giovanni Antonini. The arias featured are composed by Nicola Porpora (1686-1768), Antonio Caldara (c. 1670-1736), Francesco Araia (1709-1770), Carl Heinrich Graun (c. 1703-1759), Leonardo Leo (1694-1744), Leonardo Vinci (1696-1730), Riccardo Broschi (c. 1658-1756) and Geminiano Giacomello (c. 1692- 1740). The tour to promote the album includes performances in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, the UK, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Croatia, and Denmark.

As part of the release, one can play a puzzle, it is a bit like a scavenger hunt, perhaps. The fourth question is hosted by this blog, and is as follows:

It is hard to say what castrati sounded like, but there are recordings. Who is the only recorded castrato?

For the third question visit Sequenza21, and for the fifth question visit ClassicallyHip.

Official Site | More About Sacrificium | Puzzle

Cecilia Bartoli at Cal Performances

Cecilia-maria * Notes *
Cecilia Bartoli is touring to promote her Maria Malibran-themed album, and sang this afternoon in Berkeley. She had a shaky start with Rossini's "La regata veneziana," she was quite wobbly and gasping, though her voice certainly is vibrant. She did better with Bellini, her rendering of "L'abbandono" was poignant and clear. Some of her higher notes were thin, and this was apparent in Bellini's "Malinconia, ninfa gentile." Her legato was beautiful in the "Ma rendi pur contento" and her arpeggios sounded effortless. In the first half, the audience responded best to Rossini's percussive "Canzonetta spagnuola."

After the intermission came several Donizetti and Rossini songs, of these "Amore e mortea," from the former, was most delicate. Bartoli hammed it up for "La grande coquettte," twitching her eyebrows madly and making everyone laugh. She herself had a giggling fit during Pauline Viardot-García's "Havanaise," but sang her "Hai Luli!" with a certain loveliness. She was a bit faster than her piano accompanist, Sergio Ciomei, during "Yo que soy contrabandista," though otherwise they were together and had a good rapport.

Bartoli does not have a particularly clean sound, her breathing is rather audible, and she even cracked a few times. She is, however, ridiculously delightful and her girlishness is refreshing. She gave four encores: "Ti voglio tanto bene," "Pres des remparts de Seville," "Non ti scordar di me," and "Canto Negro."

* Tattling *
Zellerbach looked completely full. The audience was attentive, and quiet, for the most part. There was a man in Row F Seat 109 of the mezzanine who would whisper loudly or even speak aloud in Russian even when Cecilia was singing. He also fell asleep and snored for much of the performance.

Ms. Bartoli's first evening gown looked like a prom dress gone awry, the iridescent blue taffeta was not flattering, nor was the sleeveless style. The silver embroidery on the bodice and at the hem was not elegant either. She wore the identical dress in red for the second half, and that color looked better on her. One must admit that even her odd fashion sense was strangely disarming.