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Cecilia Bartoli, Italian Mezzo-Soprano Superstar

Caruso, et al








Rome native, Cecilia Bartoli (b.1966), is a best-selling, generally sold-out concert and operatic performer.  In the classical music genre, her CDs are second in popularity only to Pavarotti's. 

She is incredibly driven in her career as a recording artist and performer, challenging her voice to attain the maximum she can from it.  Her career is also expertly handled by her recording company, Decca Records, which from the start strove to create a unique brand for Bartoli.  Some call her a diva, others a rock-star classical singer.

This professional drive could be the reason you hear nothing much about her personal life.  She spends any free time, not much, with her family and close friends from childhood.  However, there does seem to be an fiancÚ in the picture, the Swiss Opera singer Oliver Widmer.

But I'm not here to gossip.  I want to introduce you to the voice and performance artistry of Cecilia Bartoli...


Bartoli's voice is classed as mezzo-soprano, which means she has a slightly lower range than a pure soprano.  And she is considered a master of coloratura, which is the ability to trill the notes. 

She is noted for her warm tone and the beautiful lyric quality of her voice, making her especially suited to compositions by the lyrical composer Rossini, and by Mozart.  She has recorded albums of works by Haydn, Puccini, Mozart, Rossini, Handel, Bellini, Gluck, Vivaldi.

In this video you can hear Bartoli's voice best in a Rossini duet that she sings with a pure soprano, Luba Organasova.  You can hear her lower range and warmer tone and coloratura skills, balanced wonderfully with the higher and lighter notes and tone of the soprano.


Bartoni is fond of researching the music of the baroque period and early classical music, and resurrecting the work she finds best suited to her voice.  The research has produced some unusual CDs and concert tours:

Sacrificium which features arias written for castrati,

Opera Proibita which features oratoria once forbidden by the Vatican,

The Salieri Album featuring the work by the long overlooked Salieri, a contemporary of Mozart,

She has dedicated time to researching compositions from the Bel Canto era, and to recording Italian traditional music, too.  And this beautiful Ave Maria.


Bartoli's mother was also her trainer (along with the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome), source of her native talent (along with her father, also an opera singer), and her inspiration for success, as can be seen from this lovely video.


Bartoli studied flamenco dancing, trumpet and piano before training her voice as a coloratura opera singer, a mezzo soprano.  She began serious training when she was 16.  To hear her speak of her history in her own words, you can listen to this wonderful interview from BBC Radio.


She has a very animated manner of singing, with her face making, by now famous, expressions that change continually.  But not only her face is expressive, her body is too.  When I gave neighbors a video of a concert, the husband appreciated the bursting bodice throughout, much more than his wife did.  Bartoli's weight varies over her career, as does the line of the front of her dresses, so at times there is quite a show going on for those interested.  Her animation is best suited to a concert hall, so videos with lots of close-ups can be distracting, to say the least.

Here is a video, mild in both the facial expressions and busty distractions, of Vivaldi's beautifully delicate Domine Deus.


Lately, Bartoli has been becoming more and more interested in Early Music, or Old Music, very early classical music.  She works closely with Early Music Orchestras, like Il Giardino Armonico. 

Il Giardino Armonico accompany Bartoli in this 6 part documentary about her work to revive Vivaldi's long neglected operatic works that were written for castrati, castrated boys, who grew to manhood with high-pitched voices, and were trained from childhood to expand their breathing and high range.  Bartoli performs the castrati singing roles.


If you have the chance to see Cecilia Bartoli in concert, be prepared for the large number of groupie-like fans who adore not just her voice, but everything about her.  I must admit I prefer to listen to her music on CDs, so I am not distracted by her exaggerated facial expressions and body movements.  Her musical curiosity is prodigious, her talent growing, her dedication to her craft amazing.  She well deserves all the accolades.


Visit Cecilia Bartoli's Amazon Store for her DVDs and CDs.  And visit Cecilia Bartoli's website for lots of information on concert tours and such.