For more than two decades, Cecilia Bartoli has indisputably been one of the leading artists in the field of classical music. Her new opera roles, concert programmes and recording projects – exclusively on Decca – are eagerly awaited all over the world.
The enormous success of her solo CDs such as The Vivaldi Album, Italian Arias by Gluck, The Salieri Album and Opera proibita is reflected both in extraordinary sales which have firmly established her as today’s best-selling classical artist – 8 million copies of audio and video releases occupying the international pop charts for more than 100 weeks and garnering numerous “gold” certifications – and in major awards: four Grammys® (USA), eight Echos and a Bambi (Germany), two Classical Brit Awards (UK), the Victoire de la Musique (France) as well as many other prestigious prizes.
Cecilia Bartoli has brought classical music to millions of people all over the world. But beyond this fact, she is especially gratified that the popularity of her projects has kindled discussions that always lead to comprehensive re-evaluation and rediscovery – that of composers who have been passed over and of repertoire which has been forgotten.
Herbert von Karajan, Daniel Barenboim and Nikolaus Harnoncourt were among the first conductors with whom Cecilia Bartoli worked. They noticed her talent at a very early stage, when she had barely completed her vocal studies with her parents in her home-town of Rome. Since then, many further renowned conductors, pianists and orchestras have been her regular partners. In recent years, her work has begun to focus on collaborations with the most significant period-instrument orchestras (Akademie für Alte Musik, Les Arts Florissants, Concentus Musicus Wien, Freiburger Barockorchester, Il Giardino Armonico, Kammerorchester Basel, Les Musiciens du Louvre, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Orchestra La Scintilla). Projects with orchestras in which Cecilia Bartoli assumes the overall artistic responsibility have also become increasingly important to her and were crowned by programmes jointly developed and performed with the Wiener Philharmoniker.
Cecilia Bartoli regularly sings in the most important concert halls of Europe, North America and Japan. Her stage appearances include prestigious opera houses and festivals such as the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, La Scala in Milan, the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, the Salzburg Festival and the Zurich Opera House, where she has presented many of her operatic roles for the first time.
Recently, Cecilia Bartoli devoted her time to the early 19th century – the age of Italian Romanticism and bel canto – and in particular to the legendary singer Maria Malibran, whose 200th birthday fell on 24 March 2008. To mark the bicentenary, the artist released a new album, Maria (Edison Award, Prix Caecilia, 2008), and the DVD Maria (The Barcelona Concert/Malibran Rediscovered). The historic event was also observed in Malibran’s birthplace, Paris, when Cecilia Bartoli sang three concerts in a single day, 24 March, as the centrepiece of a “Malibran marathon” at the Salle Pleyel – collaborating with Lang Lang, Vadim Repin, Adam Fischer and Myung-Whun Chung. Meanwhile the city of Paris showed her Barcelona concert on a large screen outside the Hôtel de Ville, where the singer’s mobile Malibran Museum was stationed to honour the special day. Other “Maria” events included extensive concert tours as well as opera appearances as Cenerentola, Amina (La sonnambula) and Halévy’s Clari, in a Malibran opera which had not been performed since 1829. The first complete recording of La Sonnambula with period instruments and a mezzo-soprano in the title role (with Juan Diego Florez as Elvino) rounded off this remarkable homage to Maria Malibran. It won the “Grand Prize Gold” in the opera category from the Japanese music journal Record Geijutsu. Also in 2009, readers of Le Figaro voted Cecilia Bartoli the most important classical artist of the first decade of the 21st century.
Most recently, the artist’s roles have included Rossini’s Fiorilla in Il Turco in Italia at Covent Garden and two Handel heroines, Cleopatra (in Giulio Cesare with Marc Minkowski) and Semele (with William Christie) in Zurich – the latter in a Robert Carsen production successfully released on DVD. Cecilia Bartoli’s debut as Bellini’s Norma is planned for June 2010 in Dortmund (Germany) in concert performances with the Balthasar Neumann Ensemble conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock.
In 2009/10, Cecilia Bartoli returned to the Baroque repertoire: a musical voyage to 18th century Naples with its celebrated castrato singers is the theme of her new solo album, Sacrificium (Diapason d’Or 2009), with Il Giardino Armonico. In connection with Sacrificium’s release, she is presenting concerts of little-known castrato repertoire in the major European capitals. A further highlight of her season: concert performances of Handel’s Giulio Cesare at the Salle Pleyel (Paris) in February 2010. The releases in 2010 include Handel’s Giulio Cesare with Andreas Scholl in the title role and Les Arts Florissants conducted by William Christie and, on DVD, Halevy’s Clari with the Orchestra La Scintilla under Adam Fischer.
Cecilia Bartoli has received many honours. In Italy she was named cavaliere, and she is an Accademico effetivo di Santa Cecilia in her native Rome. In France she was made a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, and in London an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music. Most recently she was awarded the prestigious Italian Bellini d’Oro and a Medalla de oro al merito en las bellas artes, one of the Spanish Ministry of Culture’s highest distinctions. On the occasion of the Handel Jubilee Year, Cecilia Bartoli was made an honorary member of the advisory board of the Halle Handel House Foundation. In June 2010, in Copenhagen, she will receive Denmark’s highest musical honour, the Léonie Sonning Music Prize.