Cecilia Bartoli - Biography
For over two decades Cecilia Bartoli has indisputably been one of the leading artists in the world of classical music. Every new operatic role, concert programme or recording project (she records exclusively for Decca) planned by Bartoli is eagerly awaited throughout the world. The huge success of her solo CDs such as The Vivaldi Album, Gluck – Italian Arias, The Salieri Album, Opera proibita, Maria, Sacrificium and Mission can be seen not only in the outstanding number of discs sold – she has spent over 100 weeks in total in the international pop charts and reached ‘gold’ status on many occasions – but also in the major accolades they have been awarded: five Grammys (USA), ten ECHO Awards, one Bambi (Germany), two Classical Brit Awards (UK), the Victoire de la Musique (France) and many other prestigious awards besides.
Cecilia Bartoli has brought classical music into the lives of millions of people all over the world. What is more, she is of course especially pleased that the popularity of her projects has given rise to discussions that have led in turn to the extensive re-evaluation and rediscovery of forgotten repertoire and often neglected composers.
Herbert von Karajan, Daniel Barenboim and Nikolaus Harnoncourt were among the first conductors to discover Cecilia Bartoli. They noticed her talent at a very early stage, when she had barely completed her vocal training with her parents in her native city of Rome. Since then she has worked regularly with many more renowned conductors, pianists and orchestras. In recent years she has mainly concentrated on her work with major orchestras that use contemporary instruments and follow historical performance practice (Akademie für Alte Musik, Les Arts Florissants, I Barocchisti, the Kammerorchester Basel, Concentus Musicus Wien, Ensemble Matheus, the Freiburger Barockorchester, Il Giardino Armonico, Les Musiciens du Louvre and the Zurich orchestra La Scintilla). Orchestral projects in which Cecilia Bartoli is responsible for the overall artistic direction have also become increasingly important, culminating in programmes developed and performed in collaboration with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
Cecilia Bartoli appears in all the major concert halls of Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. She has made stage appearances at festivals and in famous opera houses such as the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London, La Scala in Milan, the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, at the Salzburg Festival and at the Zurich Opera House, among others. The latter has seen many of her debut performances of operatic roles. Her current stage projects include La Cenerentola at the Salzburg Festival, Alcina in Zurich and Rossini’s Otello in Paris.
In 2008 Cecilia Bartoli devoted herself to the early 19th century – the age of Italian romanticism and bel canto – and in particular to the legendary singer Maria Malibran, the 200th anniversary of whose birth took place on 24 March 2008. To mark the occasion Cecilia Bartoli released a new CD entitled Maria (Edison Award, Prix Caecilia) as well as the DVD Maria (The Barcelona Concert/Malibran Rediscovered).
Bartoli dedicated a large part of the 2009–10 season to rediscovering music written for the great Neapolitan castrato singers of the 18th century. The release of her solo album Sacrificium with Il Giardino Armonico and Giovanni Antonini in October 2009 broke all records and was accompanied by concert appearances that presented this repertoire in all the major European musical capitals.
In autumn 2012 Cecilia Bartoli presented arias and duets by the Italian Baroque composer Agostino Steffani on her album Mission. Her collaborators on this multimedia project (containing a DVD and a special app for iPad) included Philippe Jaroussky and the Coro della Radiotelevisione Svizzera as well as the period orchestra I Barocchisti directed by Diego Fasolis. The author Donna Leon wrote the novel The Jewels of Paradise for the project. As part of this acclaimed project (‘With Mission, she has surpassed herself ... It is as if this music was only waiting to be discovered by a unique personality such as Bartoli’ – Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) Cecilia Bartoli, I Barocchisti and Diego Fasolis also went on an extended European tour in 2012–13. Their new recording of Steffani’s Stabat Mater appeared in autumn 2013.
Norma represented another milestone in Cecilia Bartoli’s career and indeed in the history of this opera’s performance. Her CD recording of the work appeared in May 2013 and she also gave her stage debut in the title role at the Salzburg Whitsun Festival. Both productions were accompanied by Giovanni Antonini and the La Scintilla orchestra. Bartoli’s new vision of this work was well received, jubilantly acclaimed by both the audience and the press.
In 2012 Cecilia Bartoli followed in the footsteps of Herbert von Karajan and Riccardo Muti when she became the first woman to be appointed artistic director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival; she recently extended her contract to 2016. Her stint as director has coincided with stellar artistic success and a spectacular increase in ticket proceeds. So far she has presented the following key festival themes: in 2012 the theme was ‘Cleopatra’, and Bartoli herself sang this role in Handel’s Giulio Cesare. In 2013 the festival was subtitled ‘Sacrifice – Opfer – Victim’, with a new staging of Norma as its focus. For 2014 the theme is to be ‘Rossinissimo’, which will see a veritable festival of Rossini with all-star casts and a new production of La Cenerentola starring Cecilia Bartoli in the title role at its centre.
Cecilia Bartoli has been honoured as a ‘Cavaliere’ in Italy, is an ‘Accademico effettivo’ of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome, has been appointed to the French honours ‘Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres’, ‘Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur’ and ‘Officier de l’Ordre du Mérite’ and is an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London, as well as of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. She has been awarded the prestigious Italian prize Bellini d’Oro, a Medalla de Oro al Mérito en las Bellas Artes (one of the highest distinctions of the Spanish Ministry of Culture) as well as the Médaille Grand Vermeil de la Ville de Paris. To mark the 250th anniversary of Handel’s death in 2009 Cecilia Bartoli was named an honorary member of the expert advisory committee of the Stiftung Händel-Haus in Halle and in the following year she was awarded the Halle Handel Prize. In 2010 she was also awarded the distinguished Danish Léonie Sonning Music Prize in Copenhagen in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II, as well as an honorary doctorate from University College, Dublin. In 2012 she was awarded the Herbert von Karajan Prize in Baden-Baden, together with a rare Swiss Award for Culture, and she was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Culturel by the Principality of Monaco.