Thursday, March 5, 2009

Brava Bartoli!

I know this is a bit delayed, but I've been super-busy with a huge music history test and then I was away for a day in the country (which was absolutely wonderful). So without further ado, here's my humble review of an extraordinary evening of music.

Cecilia Bartoli at Carnegie Hall - 200 Years Maria Malibran
March 3, 2009 - 8pm

First of all, I'd like to say that the night was filled with beautiful and stunning music. Ms. Bartoli is an excellent performer and the orchestra matched her high level of musicianship. She brought her Orchestra la Scintilla from the Zurich Opernhaus. They were absolutely outstanding. I didn't mind listening to the orchestral selections. Every player put their heart into the music; they were truly a chamber ensemble (there wasn't a conductor!). The soloists played so passionately. It was really a delight.

I won't give a blow-by-blow review, so I'm going to skip to Ms. Bartoli's second selection. Her "Caro giorni" (from Giuseppe Persiani's Ines de Castro) almost brought me to tears with its sweetness. She sang it so tenderly. Her legato lines were pure silk and the orchestra wasn't simply accompaniment: it was a true colloboration (all through the concert) and they made some of the most gorgeous music, especially in this piece. I especially loved the interplay between Ms. Bartoli and Ana Pesch, the concert mistress, in Mendelssohn's "Infelice." I've never heard that piece before and it was really something.

The next highlight for me was the Rossini set. The "Tempest" from Il Barbiere sprang to life in the hall; it was so much fun to experience! Her "Non piu mesta" blew me away. Her coloratura was, as always, exceptional. Actually, it was out of this world amazing. After she finished, I just sat there in my seat going "Oh my gosh...She did not just do that..." It was definitely one of the best renditions that I've ever heard.

I really enjoyed the movement from Donizetti's Clarinet Concertino. Robert Pickup, the soloist, played wonderfully. I just love period instruments! It makes so much sense to me that Ms. Bartoli would perform with a group that uses period instruments. I love the musicologist/historian side of her-- it's really admirable. This is just another extension of that love she has for historical-musical things.

She ended the concert with one of Maria Malibran's own compositions, "Rataplan." She certainly had a lot of fun with it. Gosh, that thing is difficult!

She performed three encores. I was so excited when she sang "Non piu mesta" again. Her last song, "Non ti scordar di me," was truly moving. It was love embodied in music. Everyone remarked upon the beauty of her interpretation.

After the concert, I waited in the long line to meet her. It was totally worth the wait. She was so sweet and upbeat, even to the very end. She gives off such a bright light; she's truly a pleasure to talk to. I bought a copy of her new La Sonnambula (with Juan Diego Florez) and she happily signed it for me. I told her that I love her Sesto (Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito) and she said, "Oh, I was very young when I recorded that." I assured her that it was very good and she said, "That's a nice thing to hear." Then my dad (who insisted on going with me; he loved "my girl Cecilia") shook her hand and thanked her for the music. She told me "Good luck" (these people always seem to know that I'm a singer; granted, I was the youngest one there) and we were off. Dad and I were both pumped. We'd met one of our favorite singers. He was so good about the whole thing; he stood in line with me and put up with my nonsense prattling about opera and music-geekiness for the entire night. His favorite was the "Caro giorni" and the closing "Non ti scordar di me." We had such a great night. I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to go!

Her dresses were gorgeous. She handled all that fabric with such poise. Her jewelry (which I hear is actually Maria Malibran's on loan) was pretty and suitable. Her necklace in the first part was very sparkly, but this is Carnegie and she is Cecilia Bartoli.

The one thing I must mention: I've always read that Ms. Bartoli stays tucked away in Zurich because her voice isn't "big enough" for the American houses. I was extremely interested to see if this was true. After hearing her in Carnegie, I must admit that I agree. Her voice filled the hall, but it didn't overwhelm it (and Carnegie is around half the size of the Met). I would love to see her on her home turf, but that will have to wait. She was simply oustanding nevertheless and she makes one heck of a recording no matter what she's singing. It was such an amazing experience to hear her live and to meet (!) her. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

1 comment:

Tyler said...


It sounds as if you have just experienced the opportunity of a lifetime so far as music is concerned. I am happy to say that Bartoli is one of my favorite singers because she is so sincere in her work. Evry piece of music I have ever heard her sing exhibits the musicologist within her, and I think her recording entitled "The Vivaldi Album" is possibly my favorite of all of my CD's (Renee Fleming is putting up some fierce competition with her "Handel" album I just received in the mail on Saturday, however.)

I agree with everything you said to describe Bartoli's voice, especially about her coloratura. Her degree of artistry has not diminished since the start of her career in my opinion.

It was nice that you were priveliged to hear the chamber ensemble that accompanied her instead of some orchestra or just a pianist. It seems that chamber orchestras, especially period instrument ones like the Orchestra la Scintilla and Il Giardino Armonico, with whom she collaborated on "The Vivaldi Album," perform at a higher level than their opera house counterparts, but that is simply the opinion of an amateur musician (I play piano, by the way.) and aficionado, and, therefore, subject to error.

As to the music of the evening, most of the selections you mention are ones with which I am unfamiliar, but since Bartoli sang them, I have a reasonable confidence that she made them sound exactly as you describe them. I suppose your review of this recital gives me plenty of incentive to buy her "Maria" CD. We shall see. One thing she sang that I, and I am sure many other people besides, are accustomed to hearing is the Neapolitan ballad "Non ti scordar di me," only we are probably wont to hearing a tenor sing it. It would have been exciting to hear Bartoli interpret it.

I am thrilled for you that you were able to meet Bartoli. Does she speak English very well? And do you know what the correct pronunciation of her first name is? I am further pleased that your father went with you and that he seemed to enjoy himself so immensely.

Finally (Yes, finally!), I must say something about your musing as to the size of her voice. Who cares if it does not fill the entire Met audience. That is the purpose "Rush tickets" serve, to ensure that people can hear the singers with smaller voices!

Thanks for the review, and God bless!