* 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.