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CECILIA BARTOLI and the life and art of MARIA MALIBRAN






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MARIA MALIBRAN -
A MUSICAL JOURNEY
:

- Track 5
YO QUE SOY CONTRABANDISTA

  - Track 9*
E NON LO VEDO... SON REGINA


- Track 14*
 
COME DOLCE A ME FAVELLI


- Track 6
AH! NON CREDEA MIRARTI


  - Track 10
RATAPLAN

   - Track 4*  
INFELICE


    - Track 17
CASTA DIVA


   Track 16*
PRENDI, PER ME SEI LIBERO



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Retracing the footsteps, minding the music, mining the score, recreating the sound...


MARIA - CECILIA BARTOLI
A FanFaire-Decca CD GIVEAWAY


Decca 475 9077
US Release Oct 16, 2007



"The reincarnation of Maria Malibran!"
proclaimed her fans years before "Bartolimania" swept across the US. Cecilia Bartoli was only 16 then, and to the young singer with a budding career who knew practically next to nothing about opera's first superstar, it was an empty accolade - "just a name" as she herself tells it (play video clip below).  But as her career flourished, and with it a now unstoppable scholarly curiosity that has led her to exciting explorations into music that best suits her mezzo-soprano voice, she gained more than a nodding acquaintance with the first ever diva named Maria (No, Maria Callas wasn't the first mega-primadonna!), giving new life to early 19th century bel canto treasures that could have been lost forever. As she did with her earlier attempts at musical archaeology, if you will, in which she journeyed back into the music of the 17th and 18th century, unearthing hidden treasures, and recording them for posterity (The Vivaldi Album, The Salieri Album and Opera Proibita) with as much historical authenticity as could be summoned from orchestral accompaniment with period instruments. Today's vocal and operatic repertoire is richer as a result of her efforts.

   

Bartoli's interest in Malibran was perhaps also helped along by her early familiarity with the songs of Pauline Viardot that made up part of her early recital and recording repertoire (e.g., "Havannaise" and "Hai Luli" in the albums Live in Italy and Chant d'Amour.) Maria Malibran's younger sister, Viardot became famous in her own right as an opera singer and composer whose life and fame enjoyed a longevity that escaped Malibran, who died prematurely at age 28.  Viardot, who quickly filled the shoes of her famous sister, lived to be 89 but definitely not in her shadow. Although she is said not to have been blessed with Maria's fabled physical assets, she nevertheless also stirred the passions of the masses and inspired the artists and intellectuals of her time.

This shared largesse of musical talent implies a gene pool that coded for MUSIC - with a bias toward the vocal and theatrical arts. And indeed, music ran in the family, as superstar Cecilia Bartoli herself learned when she journeyed through the life and art of Maria Malibran. She followed the footprints - from womb to tomb, collecting artefacts and minding the music as she mined documents and historical records as well as scoured extant musical scores (of works she composed or were composed for her) for everything and anything they could tell her about the person and most importantly, the VOICE.

The result is a most enjoyable and informative CD album in a beautifully crafted and lavishly illustrated book format, in which Cecilia shares her bel canto discoveries in the best way she knows how - through music that is uniquely La Bartoli's even as she attempts to recreate a legendary voice and the art of singing in the age of Malibran: with amazing vocal flexibility, virtuosic coloratura, distinctive phrasing, and beauty of sound. It is noteworthy that 8 of the 17 pieces included in the album are world premiere recordings, a happy result of Bartoli's diligent scholarship.

Below are links to video/audio excerpts from selected tracks that vividly tell the story, albeit in a musically representational way, of Malibran's life and times. Orchestral accompaniment with period instruments by the ORCHESTRA LA SCINTILLA under the direction of ADAM FISCHER successfully captures the colors, harmonies and sonorities of the era.

  YO QUE SOY CONTRABANDISTA - Track 5
            [From El Poeta Calculista by MANUEL GARCÍA]

        E NON LO VEDO... SON REGINA - Track 9*
            [A recitative with chorus from Act 2 of La figlia dell'aria
             composed by MANUEL GARCÍA, possibly the first opera
             to have premiered in America (NY, 1925 - the year the
             family moved to America);sung by Semiramide, the
             principal character (among several) created by
García
             for his gifted daughter Maria.]

        COME DOLCE A ME FAVELLI - Track 14*
            [From Act 1 of Clari, a little known opera in 3 acts
             composed by the French composer JACQUES FROMENTAL
             HALÈVY, for the voice of MALIBRAN who sang the title role
.
             The work premiered in Paris in 1828, the year after she
             left New York for Paris (the city of her birth) at the age of 20,
             fleeing an overpowering father and a troubled marriage to
             a Frenchman of Spanish descent, 28 years her senior named
             Eugene Malibran. All of Paris idolized her and the rest of
             Europe was swept away. But she earned the disdain of
             Parisian high society when she fell in love and lived openly
             with the good-looking Belgian violinist Charles de Bériot, which
             caused her to leave France in 1832, never to return.

    AH! NON CREDEA MIRARTI- Track 6
            [From La sonnambula by VINCENZO BELLINI]

        RATAPLAN - Track 10
            [This song, one of 50-odd songs by MARIA MALIBRAN, composer,
             and published in her Album Lyrique, was among her most famous
             works. Exactly when she wrote it is not known, but hearing Cecilia
             Bartoli sing this orchestrated version, which was found in the opera
             archives in Dresden, one quickly realizes why the song which
             simulates the military drum roll that opens the piece was so popular.
             Her sense of humor, which Bartoli speculates about on the basis of
             her letters is also quite apparent in this very enjoyable piece.

     INFELICE - Track 4*
              [A German Romantic song excerpted from the "scena ed aria"
                Infelice by FELIX MENDELSSOHN]

      CASTA DIVA - Track 17
              [From the popular aria from BELLINI's Norma]

      PRENDI, PER ME SEI LIBERO - Track 16*
              [From a new aria by MARIA MALIBRAN, replacing one written by
              BELLINI for the character of Adina in his opera L'elisir d'amore.]

Parallels have been drawn between Malibran's and Bartoli's meteoric careers.  The comparison isn't entirely out of place: two operatic superstars who, both barely out of their youth, set the bar for singing and artistic achievement - each in her own time.  And this album by one of today's reigning "divas" is a joyful tribute to the artist who first personified the word - on the eve of her 200th birth anniversary.  Cecilia Bartoli takes the recording on a European tour - "Maria Malibran la rivoluzione romantica"- that culminates on March 24, 2008, Malibran's birthday, in a Gala Concert at the historic Salle Pleyel in Paris, the city of her birth.

Cecilia's avowed fascination with Malibran and her music will easily become the listener's own. This CD is a golden delight!  It is what happens when scholarship fuses with art and the love of singing. The rejoinder to Cecilia's "Viva La Malibran!" can only be "Viva La Bartoli!"
-GC � FanFaire 2007



To listen to the selections in their entirety, either JOIN FanFaire's CD GIVEAWAY, OR BUY THE CD
- which is available in 2 formats: the CD-size BOOK EDITION
or the LIMITED (24cm x 24cm) SUPER DELUXE EDITION. The latter includes a bonus DVD and an informative, richly illustrated 200-page, hardcover book.

* A world premiere recording.

C
redits - video/audio clips and images: copyright � and with permission of Decca Records.

The album "MARIA - Cecilia Bartoli is a FanFaire - DECCA CD Giveaway.

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