(1-4, 6): courtesy Los Angeles Opera
below for MUSIC CLIP:
Lascia la spina (Handel)
(from Live in Italy)
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BUY OPERA PROIBITA
Bartoli returned to LA and conquered hearts once again.
It did not matter that she sang songs most all of which had not been
heard enough to be among anyone's favorites today. The evening concert's
program was drawn from her most recent album, Opera
Proibita, or "Forbidden Works." The songs
are actually arias from early 18th century oratorios that were privately
commissioned by music lovers among the church hierarchy but could
not be heard in Rome at the time because theatrical performances were
officially forbidden by the Pope as inappropriate.
Leave it to Cecilia Bartoli to discover beauty and passion (verily
elements of operatic music) in what are technically pieces of sacred
music, make them her own, and share them with the rest of us - with
a passion that is uniquely Bartoli's. Which was exactly what she did
at her concert performance at the Los Angeles Opera on a balmy Southern
California evening in October 2005. The adoring audience loved every
moment of it - from the first step she took toward center stage, in
her flowing neon-green gown, to the final note of her third encore.
Accompaniment was provided by the Baroque ensemble Orchestra La Scintilla
of Zürich Opera, whose members - obviously enamored of her, played
in perfect harmony with the star performer. They played without a
conductor, and indeed it seemed they took their cues from Ms. Bartoli
herself, whose gestures, facial expression and body language - so
spontaneous and natural - clearly delighted the audience.
Ms. Bartoli opened the program with Scarlatti's "Qui reta...
L'alta Roma," an aria that defined the setting for the evening
of song: her native city of Rome. Whether the song called for her
fabled coloratura (as in most of the arias), or for a sense of playfulness
(as in Handel's "Chiudi, Chuidi...") or for pathos (as in
"Lascia, la spina," again by Handel) she was in great form
the entire evening - so in control of her vocal powers it felt as
if Scarlatti, Caldera and Handel composed the short arias for her
voice. They call for technical agility and rapid delivery in some
instances and an elegant legato in others; and always, for beauty
of voice and breath control without compromise. She fulfilled all
requirements with impeccable phrasing and an expressive musicality
that displayed the wonderful colors of her light mezzo-soprano voice...
and pleasantly seduced the audience who simply could not have enough
After one encore (an aria by Bononcini), she received a big bouquet
of flowers which, plucking one flower after another, she gracefully
shared with the front-row members of the orchestra, and then waved
the audience good-bye. But they would have none of it. She generously
responded to the standing ovations, the thunderous applause, and the
manic bravos with two more arias by Handel and Scarlatti, delivered
with the same meticulous artistry as the songs in the main program.
Following the concert, Ms. Bartoli signed concert programs and CDs.
Thrilled fans lined up all the way past the fountains of the Music
Center and well past midnight to have a minute with the artist.
Clearly, it was a magical evening when charisma and adulation literally