Thursday, 4 August 2011

August Opera Challenge Day Four: Best Mezzo

I've spent a year gushing over Joyce DiDonato, but given that it's only been twelve months since I fell for her, I really have to go for Cecilia Bartoli here because I've adored her since I was a little girl. The more opera fans I speak to, the more I learn that baroque, and even more specifically Cecilia, are not everybody's cup of tea. But I've met a lot of enthusiastic Bartoli devotees at her recitals, and those that get it really get it! I guess that amount of coloratura played out with such originality and character might be a bit off-putting for some, but her voice and technique really grip my heart, and I find myself falling more in love with every note she sings. Yes, I think this might be my one and only girl crush.

Cecilia is a heroine of mine for a lot of reasons. She stands her ground about repertoire that is appropriate for her fairly niche voice, has an academic approach to making records which has produced many world premiere recordings of baroque music, and when she is on the operatic stage, she has an intelligence and sense of humour which bring every character she plays to life. It's present in recitals, too- what can I say about those trademark moves and facial expressions? And how can I describe a voice that plunges such velvetty depths and rises to produce such sparkling, champagne-like coloratura? I've chosen this clip from her Sacrificium project, which explored the art of the castrati. Porpora's Come nave in mezzo allonde is one of my favourite Cecilia arias, and I think this really shows off her magical voice as well as her unique dramatic qualities!

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