Cecilia Bartoli


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In collaboration with Giovanni Antonini, Riccardo Minasi and Maurizio Biondi, Cecilia Bartoli restores the sound and spirit of Norma in a landmark Decca recording based on the opera’s original sources

Cecilia Bartoli leads a fabulous cast in Decca’s groundbreaking new recording, which presents Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma in a form that is complete with the exquisite mix of vocal and instrumental colours that Bellini intended for his ‘tragic opera’. Sumi Jo, John Osborn and Michele Pertusi respectively illuminate the roles of Adalgisa, Pollione and Oroveso. The sounds of period instruments from the composer’s time, brought to life by Orchestra La Scintilla and conductor Giovanni Antonini, underpin and blend with the timbres of a cast carefully chosen to recreate the individual vocal qualities of the opera’s roles.

Cecilia Bartoli’s Norma evokes the style and artistry of the legendary soprano Giuditta Pasta, the opera’s original heroine. The Italian superstar here continues her mission to reveal lost details of expression and emotional variety in music covered by the dark varnish of later performance traditions. Norma, often portrayed as a superhuman priestess, emerges in Bartoli’s performance as a woman of flesh and blood, torn between duty and love.

Her interpretation was hailed by the Financial Times as a “radical but convincing rethink of the part.”Fonoforum wrote of the “often moving and touching” nature of Bartoli’s Norma, following her concert performance of the work in Dortmund in August 2010, while Die Zeit described the singer’s prayer-like account of the opera’s hit aria “Casta Diva” as “great art, and also a provocation”.

Decca’s studio recording of Norma employs the latest critical edition of Bellini’s score, painstakingly restored from manuscript and early printed sources.

“Only in this way can we appreciate once more the true magic, the colour and emotion in this music,” observes Cecilia Bartoli in a short essay included as part of the album’s elegant hardback presentation. “It was my wish,” she continues, “to bring Bellini’s opera closer to the soundworld of the bel canto period.”

Norma is set for release in May 2013 in time for the opera’s first staging in Salzburg as part of the city’s annual Whitsun Festival. Cecilia Bartoli, in her second year as artistic director of the Whitsun Festival, will perform the title-role in company with John Osborn, Michele Pertusi, Orchestra La Scintilla and Giovanni Antonini (17 & 19 May). Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s production will be revived in August during the Salzburg Festival, again with Bartoli as Norma.





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