Bartoli at the Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels, 2007
|Born||4 June 1966|
|Education||Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia|
|Occupation||Opera singer and recitalist|
Cecilia Bartoli, Cavaliere OMRI (Italian: [tʃeˈtʃiːlja ˈbartoli]; born 4 June 1966) is an Italian coloratura mezzo-soprano opera singer and recitalist. She is best known for her interpretations of the music of Bellini, Mozart and Rossini, as well as for her performances of lesser-known music from the Baroque and Classical period. She is known for having the versatility to sing both soprano and mezzo roles.
Bartoli is considered a coloratura mezzo-soprano with an unusual timbre. According to Nicholas Wroe, her distinctive voice is known for its "fully developed sumptuousness of the lower register, the vibrancy of the middle range...the top was limpid and powerful." She is one of the most popular (and one of the top-selling) opera singers of recent years.
Bartoli was born in Rome. Her parents, Silvana Bazzoni and Pietro Angelo Bartoli, were both professional singers and gave her her first music lessons. Her first public performance was at age nine as the shepherd boy in Tosca. Bartoli later studied at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome. At the age of 19, she made her singing debut and appeared on the Italian television show Fantastico. She did not win the competition but was asked to sing with Paris Opera for a homage concert for Maria Callas.
Bartoli came to prominence in her early twenties. She made her professional opera debut in 1987 at the Arena di Verona. In the following year, she undertook the role of Rosina in Rossini's The Barber of Seville at the Cologne Opera, the Schwetzingen Festival and the Zurich Opera earning rave reviews. Working with conductors Daniel Barenboim and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Bartoli focused on Mozart roles, such as Zerlina in Don Giovanni and Dorabella in Così fan tutte, and from then on her career developed internationally.
In 1990, she made her debut at the Opéra Bastille as Cherubino in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and her debut at the Hamburg State Opera as Idamantes in Mozart's Idomeneo, followed by her La Scala debut as Isolier in Le comte Ory in 1991, a performance that solidified her reputation as one of the world's leading Rossini singers.
In 1996, Bartoli made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera as Despina in Così fan tutte and returned in 1997 to sing the title role of La Cenerentola and in 1998 to sing the role of Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro. In 2000, she sang in another Mozart soprano role, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. In 2001, she made a long-awaited Royal Opera House debut, taking the roles of Euridice and the Genio in the London stage premiere of Haydn's L'anima del filosofo.
In addition to Mozart and Rossini, Bartoli has spent much of her career performing and recording Baroque and early Classical era music by such composers as Gluck, Vivaldi, Haydn and Salieri. In early 2005, she sang Cleopatra in Handel's Giulio Cesare. She often performs with the Baroque ensemble Il Giardino Armonico.
In 2012, Bartoli produced a project entitled Mission, which premiered the works of Agostino Steffani, a not well-remembered Baroque performer. Bartoli produced the music of the composer in CD form as well as an extended music video that portrays her as the priest-composer Agostino in the palace of Versallies. The video is known for its historic and visual accuracy of the Baroque period. Cecilia Bartoli's performance and production of Mission reflect the music and aesthetic of Steffani's time period through the setting, wardrobe, and cinematography."
In 2007/08, Bartoli devoted her time to studying and recording the early 19th century repertoire – the era of Italian Romanticism and bel canto – and especially the legendary singer Maria Malibran, the 200th anniversary of whose birth was celebrated in March 2008. The album Maria was released in September 2007. In May 2008, Bartoli sang the title role written for Malibran in a revival of Fromental Halévy's 1828 opera Clari at the Zurich Opera. In June 2010, she sang the title role of Bellini's Norma for the first time with conductor Thomas Hengelbrock in a concert at the Konzerthaus Dortmund. In March 2011, Bartoli toured five Australian cities with two programs drawn from Sacrificium and Maria.
In 2012, Bartoli became the artistic director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival, an extension of the traditional Salzburg Festival, which produces performances during Whitsun (Pentecost) weekend. Forgoing the academic programming of her predecessors, she reformulated the festival's programming—returning to "the old recipe of organizing beautiful programs and inviting great artists"—resulting in record ticket sales and placing the festival on the international opera calendar. In 2012, she sang Cleopatra in Handel's Giulio Cesare, in 2013 the title role in Vincenzo Bellini's Norma, and in 2014 Rossini's La Cenerentola.
Bartoli lives with her husband, Swiss baritone Oliver Widmer, on the Goldküste shore of Lake Zurich, Switzerland, and in Rome, part of the year. The couple married in 2011 after twelve years together. Bartoli lived in Monaco in the early 2010s.
In 2011, she won a fifth Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Performance for Sacrificium. In 2012, she was voted into the magazine's Gramophone's Hall of Fame. She is the 2012 recipient of the Herbert von Karajan Music Prize.
Bartoli is not only selling more CDs than ever before, she is doing so with a repertoire that would have been thought arcane even at the height of the classical boom
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