Soprano Bartoli: My voice has more colors, shadow

Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:42am EST
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli has released a year-end blockbuster that is part mystery story, part research project and shows off a voice which only seems to improve with age.

Bartoli's latest deluxe-packaged album "Mission" (Decca) is devoted to the music of the late 17th-century Italian composer, diplomat and perhaps spy, Agostino Steffani.

Steffani may have been a bit overlooked as a result of his appearance at the end of the Renaissance and at the beginning of the Baroque periods - until Bartoli's interest alighted on him.

"The variety is amazing in the music of Steffani, the slow arias have very beautiful melodic lines, they are unbelievable, it's quite hypnotic music," Bartoli said in a telephone interview from Paris.

Since she burst upon the world in the 1990s, specializing mostly in Mozart and Rossini, Bartoli has gone from strength to strength, not only in digging up unusual repertoires, including another deluxe compilation in 2009 devoted to music sung by castrati, but also vocally.

Here's what else Bartoli had to say about Steffani and his possible career as a spy, why she goes for the anti-diva look on her recent album covers, and what she calls a Fellini-esque experience at La Scala with conductor Daniel Barenboim:

Q: Is it true, then, that the voice improves with time?

A: "I think this is a very good time because of the maturity of the technique. When you are young, of course, you have to have a beautiful voice. This is a gift you receive, but you don't have enough technique or experience. So this is a very good time because I can really paint with my voice with so many colors, like a painter. I love painting with the voice and I'm of an age when I do this definitely better than 20 years ago."   Continued...

Italy’s mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli stands near her wax statue at the Musee Grevin in Paris June 28, 2011. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen