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5.0 2
by Cecilia Bartoli

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A tribute album with a difference, Maria venerates the greatest singer you've never heard. Maria Malibran was the world's first true opera diva: A Spanish mezzo-soprano born in Paris in 1808 to a prominent musical family, she rose to become a concert-hall sensation and muse to Rossini and Bellini, only to die at 28 in a riding accident. Her fame lingers today


A tribute album with a difference, Maria venerates the greatest singer you've never heard. Maria Malibran was the world's first true opera diva: A Spanish mezzo-soprano born in Paris in 1808 to a prominent musical family, she rose to become a concert-hall sensation and muse to Rossini and Bellini, only to die at 28 in a riding accident. Her fame lingers today (a theatre in Venice, for instance, still bears her name), but she seems to have no greater contemporary fan than Cecilia Bartoli. The Italian mezzo has kept her own admirers satisfied in recent years with albums devoted to Vivaldi, Gluck, and Salieri, as well as a delicious showcase of Roman music composed under the watchful eye of Vatican censors. And true to form, Bartoli's Maria is no less vibrantly performed, original in concept, or meticulously researched. Even the most devoted classical listener will be intrigued by the program's many curiosities, such as Mendelssohn's concert scene "Infelice," featuring a languidly expressive violin solo from Maxim Vengerov, or Malibran's own "Rataplan," a march-time duet for Bartoli and snare drum. Other arias written for Malibran are similarly revealing -- from Giovanni Pacini's dramatic album opener to Lauro Rossi's charming "Scorrete, O Lagrime" -- while operatic chestnuts from Bellini's La Sonnambula, I Puritani, and Norma (the famous "Casta diva" as an album-closing treat) draw typically impassioned singing from Bartoli. Adam Fischer and the period-instrument Orchestra La Scintilla deliver first-rate accompaniment, and Bartoli herself once again displays the unbounded musical curiosity and expressive élan that stamps the best of her work.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
In this tribute to the great nineteenth century mezzo-soprano, Maria Malibran, Cecilia Bartoli sings selections from the repertoire for which Malibran was known. Malibran also ventured into soprano roles, and Bartoli bravely and entirely successfully follows her into that territory. In fact, the primary impression the CD creates is astonishment and awe at the extraordinary range of these selections, and Bartoli's ease, absolute security, and seamless delivery, from above the treble staff to the middle of the bass staff. Hummel's "Air à la Tirolienne avec variations" may not be a musical masterpiece, but as a showcase for Bartoli's range, dizzying coloratura, and yodeling ability, it is breathtaking. The collection is made up of much music written especially for Malibran, and besides giving Bartoli a chance to dazzle, the pieces are irrefutable testimony to how remarkable an artist Malibran must have been. Some of the most striking pieces are the recitative and aria from her father's opera "La Figlia dell'aria," a concert scena and aria by Mendelssohn, and a song by Malibran herself, which requires both a command of extended vocal techniques and a sense of humor, and Bartoli brings it off with panache. One of the strengths of the collection is its inclusion of so much repertoire that's virtually unknown today. Only three excerpts from Bellini operas and one by Rossini are likely to be familiar to most opera lovers. Bartoli's "Casta Diva" is a marvel of purity, restraint, and emotional vulnerability, and is by itself worth the price of the album. Adam Fischer conducts Orchestra La Scintilla in lively accompaniments to Bartoli's vibrant and supple performances. The CD should be of strong interest to any fans of early nineteenth century coloratura repertoire.
Gramophone - John Steane
This new recital is a brilliant summation of [Bartoli's] art and the special contribution it makes.
San Francisco Chronicle - Steven Winn
Bartoli plunges boldly into every challenge, floating a feathery trill in a Pacini aria, smoothing out the fussiness in a Hummel selection and carving a distinct character in Bellini's "La Sonnambula."
New Zealand Herald - William Dart
As to be expected, Bartoli comes up with the sort of singing that should be registered as an Olympic sport.
Newark Star-Ledger - Bradley Bambarger
1/2 One of the opera world's most distinctive talents.... It's an absorbing tale Bartoli tells.
Globe and Mail - Elissa Poole
Bartoli seems incapable of making anything sound generic, and in that she is one of a kind. So, apparently, was Malibran.

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  1. Irene (o L’assedio di Messina), opera: Se un mio desir... Cedi al duol
  2. Irene (o L’assedio di Messina), opera: Ira del ciel
  3. Ines de Castro, opera: Cari Giorni
  4. Infelice, concert aria for soprano & orchestra, Op. 94
  5. El poeta calculista, opera: Yo que soy contrabandista
  6. La sonnambula, opera: Ah! Non credea mirarti
  7. La sonnambula, opera: Ah! Non giunge
  8. Air à la tirolienne avec variations, for voice & orchestra, Op. 118
  9. La figlia dell'aria, opera: E non lo vedo... Son Regina
  10. Rataplan
  11. Tancredi, opera: Dopo tante e tante pene
  12. I Puritani, opera: O Rendetemi la speme... Qui la voce
  13. I Puritani, opera: Vien, diletto
  14. L'éclair, opera: Come dolce a me favelli
  15. Amelia (or Otto anni di costanza), opera: Scorrete, o lagrime
  16. L'elisir d'amore, opera: Prendi, per me sei libero
  17. Norma, opera: Casta diva

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Maria 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
1___ Maria Malibran was a great singer of the Bel Canto period who lived only 28 years "1808-1836". Using this singer's career as a point of departure, Bartoli explores the music of the early 19th Century. It is an effort that is of a piece with her devotion to bringing other obscure work to our attention. From Bellini's lush, often poignant, melodies to special pieces, such as J. N. Hummel's "Air à la tirolienne avec variations," written for Malibran and premiered by her, the music ranges ever so widely. Another entertainment is "Rataplan," a song by Maria Malibran, herself, who proves that she had potential as a composer. Add pieces by Malibran's father, Manuel Garcia, Mendelssohn, Rossini and others and you have a CD that will abundantly reward the listener. 2___ Many have quibbled about Bartoli's range, her lack of legato, her aspirated coloratura, etc. What is undeniable is the uniqueness of her voice. Listen to her sing and you cannot be fooled--you are hearing Cecilia Bartoli. She projects a distinctive vocal color. Other singers have this quality--Dame Janet Baker comes to mind. Her voice, like Bartoli's, is distinctive and identifiable. To this we must add Bartoli's personality. Her enthusiasm comes across in recordings, but is evident when you watch her sing. 3___ This is a fine work that turns Bartoli's interest in a great singer from the past into an opportunity to make more art. This is one of Cecilia Bartoli's most entertaining recordings. The delightful book that forms the case is one more element to recommend this CD. There is even a touch of humor in the treatment that plays with the notion of "diva" in the earlier age and in our own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago