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Opera Proibita
     

Opera Proibita

4.3 3
by Cecilia Bartoli
 
One of the traits that make Cecilia Bartoli a truly essential singer -- besides her glorious voice -- is her insatiable musical curiosity. It would be easy enough for the much-loved mezzo to keep recording the standard repertoire; instead, she digs deep into the works of composers like Vivaldi, Gluck, and Salieri (the subjects of her

Overview

One of the traits that make Cecilia Bartoli a truly essential singer -- besides her glorious voice -- is her insatiable musical curiosity. It would be easy enough for the much-loved mezzo to keep recording the standard repertoire; instead, she digs deep into the works of composers like Vivaldi, Gluck, and Salieri (the subjects of her three previous albums) to unearth unappreciated and unknown gems. Opera Proibita is her most intriguing salvage mission yet, exploring a curious chapter in opera history -- the early 18th century in Rome, when the pope banned stage performances, forcing composers to find new outlets for musical drama and virtuoso singing. Most of these wonderful arias by Handel, Scarlatti, and the lesser-known Antonio Caldara come from oratorios, in which religious stories, usually from the Bible or the Christian martyrs' lives, were told in song, minus the visual appeal of the stage. This trade-off forced music to become even more expressive and dramatic than opera, to convey the stories without acting, pageantry, or lavish sets. But all of this would just be a history lesson without an artist of Bartoli's caliber to revive the music, much of it composed for castrati rather than women, and more than half of it recorded here for the first time. This intrepid singer dazzles with her vocal agility, especially when dueling with trumpets on Scarlatti's "L'alta Roma," but she alternates these brilliant displays with the ineffably beautiful sustained melodies that were another specialty of the Baroque era. It's almost too easy for a critic to heap superlative praise on Bartoli, so suffice it to say that Opera Proibita is arguably her most flawlessly satisfying recording to date, and a must for anyone who cares about the art of singing.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
Cecilia Bartoli maintains a near-perfect mezzo-soprano instrument, which she patently refuses to expose to material that might damage it; never will we hear Bartoli in voice-destroying roles such as Carmen nor in heavyweight mezzo parts such as those encountered in Wagner's "Ring" cycle. Even though she is a "mainstream" classical artist, the most "modern" composer she has recorded is Pauline Viardot, and even the Decca releases that established her as a star stick to composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Rossini. Bartoli eschews powerful vocal production in favor of greater flexibility, an ideal match for Baroque and Classical literature. Although one would not have pegged Bartoli as an "early music specialist" based on her earlier recordings, clearly she has found a place as an expert interpreter of such music. In Opera Proibita, where she is accompanied by the redoubtable Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre, it is hard to imagine anyone doing better in this material, over half of it never before recorded. Opera Proibita restricts itself to a brief period in the early eighteenth century when opera was temporarily banned, owing to its alleged fostering of lewd and lascivious behavior in Italian society. During this time, composers adapted by writing highly operatic passages for the still legal form of oratorio, or developing formats such as the "Introduzione," a highly florid kind of introduction to the Latin mass that was eventually likewise struck down by the church. Although these recitatives and arias from oratorios are taken from composers ranging from George Frideric Handel and Alessandro Scarlatti to Antonio Caldara and are presented apart from the works from which they belong, there is a certain unanimity of style among them. Opera Proibita is sequenced for emotional impact rather than in a historical context, which makes for good listening even if one isn't able to keep straight who wrote what -- in this case, it almost doesn't make a difference. Bartoli is clearly the star of the show, imbuing Scarlatti's recitative and aria combo "Ahi! Qual cordoglio...Doppio affetto" with a blend of piety, drama, and pathos. Her sense of pitch, even in rapid fire passages of stuttering sixteenth notes, is unfailingly true; just listen to how the voice interacts with the oboes in Handel's "Disserratavi, o porte d'Averno." Bartoli almost seems more in tune than the oboes do. Opera Proibita contains a fair amount of the fireworks expected by fans familiar with her Vivaldi disc with Il Giardino Armonico; however, far more time is spent in reflective, pious, and calm music that is very easy on the ears. As always, Bartoli sounds fabulous here, and Opera Proibita will prove immensely satisfying to any listener who has an appreciation for the capabilities of the human voice as an instrument.
New York Times - Anne Midgette
Bartoli makes music sizzle. Something is always happening when she sings.... Her coloratura is fierce, passionate, even alarming.
Gramophone - David Vickers
[November 2005 CD of the Month] A veritable treasure trove.... Bartoli's extrovert singing finds an ideal partner in Marc Minkowski's characteristically extreme direction.
San Jose Mercury News - Richard Scheinin
Remarkable.... [The music] is surging, noble and even erotic, as well as highly ornate and demandingly virtuosic. Bartoli's performances of these arias...are dazzling.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/13/2005
Label:
Decca
UPC:
0028947570295
catalogNumber:
000515102
Rank:
98593

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Serafini al nostro canto, cantata for 3 voices & instruments: Aria della Pace. All'arme sì accesi guerrieri
  2. Il giardino di rose: La SS Vergine del Rosario, oratorio for soloists & orchestra: Aria della Speranza. Mentre io godo in dolce oblio
  3. Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno, oratorio, HWV 46a: Aria della Bellezza. Un pensiero nemico di pace
  4. Il Trionfo della Innocenza, oratorio: Aria di Santa Eugenia. Vanne pentita a piangere
  5. La castità al cimento, oratorio (Il Trionfo della Castità): Aria di Flavia. Sparga il senso lascivo veleno
  6. Il Sedecia, re di Gerusalemme, oratorio for soloists, chorus, instruments & continuo: Aria di Ismaele. Caldo sangue
  7. Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno, oratorio, HWV 46a: Aria del Piacere. Come nembo che fugge col vento
  8. Il giardino di rose: La SS Vergine del Rosario, oratorio for soloists & orchestra: Recitativo ed aria della Carità. Ecco negl'orti tu
  9. San Filippo Neri, oratorio for soloists, trumpet, strings, lute & continuo: Recitativo ed aria della Carità. Qui resta...L'alt
  10. Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno, oratorio, HWV 46a: Aria del Piacere. Lascia la spina, cogli la rosa
  11. Il Sedecia, re di Gerusalemme, oratorio for soloists, chorus, instruments & continuo: Recitativo ed aria di Ismaele. Ahi! qual cordoglio
  12. Oratorio per Santa Francesca Romana: Aria di Santa Francesca. Sì piangete pupille dolen
  13. Il Martirio di Santa Caterina, oratorio: Recitativo ed aria dell'Impertrice Faustina. Ahi q
  14. La Resurrezione, oratorio, HWV 47: Aria dell'Angelo. Disserratevi, o porte d'Averno
  15. La Resurrezione, oratorio, HWV 47: Recitativo ed aria di Santa Maria Maddalena. Notte

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Opera Proibita 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There is no doubt Bartoli is extraordinary. Her precision, her supernatural control of vibrato, her tasteful ornamentated da capos... and Minkowski is not lesser. I doubt if there is a more strong and energetic way of playing for ex the 1st aria of La resurrezione. His contribution is best of the best. The problem is the repertoire, for me. At first listening all is superb but later... so many coloraturas... is like chocolate or good sex: you cant have them all the time. There are too many "battle/storm/virtuosic" arias and some of the slow ones are, on surface, very similar. The mentioned "fast" can lead to boredom after listening one after the other. The impression is that of a "too-samey" musical landscape among the fast arias. Some of them are splendid (for ex Handel's) but the artists should have included here another types of music. Listen to the Vivaldi album and you will find what I think is greater musical contrasts. If you like spending more than 30 min listening to the voice doubling violin, oboe or trumpet demisemiquavers this CD is for you, but if you want a greater sample of baroque played crisply on period instruments with this extraordinary singer, go to the Vivaldi album.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cecilia Bartoli continues to grow as an artist and as an intelligent contributor to the realm of musically important yet neglected works. The concept of this recital - exhuming works once censored by the Church as inappropriate - include works by Handel, Scarlatti, and Caldara, some of which have made their way onto the concert stage, and some that have fallen into the cracks of the plethora of music from this period. Bartoli is here supported by the fine conducting of Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre. The songs range from the florid bravura of Scarlatti's 'Serafini al nostro canto' to the simplicity and restraint of Caldara's 'Aria di Santa Eugenia. Vanne pentita a piangere'. It is of interest to know that these arias were for the most part written for castrati rather than for the female voice and Bartoli seems to appreciate that fact in her manner of performance. This is not only an album of gorgeous singing, it is also an important recording of premieres of works that, were it not for Bartoli's insatiable curiosity and intelligence, would probably never have been available for our enjoyment. Highly recommended. Grady Harp
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
cecilia bartoli is special. her trills are perfect espcially on track 14. this music gives people joy. i totally recommend this cd.