Opera fans should take note, as the great Cecilia Bartoli is both singer and Artistic Director in the performance with her group of musicians as part of a new production of La Cenerentola by Rossini today on 07 February 2017, at 8 p.m.
She has sung on the world’s most beautiful stages and has interpreted the greatest classical roles. Since the spring of 2016, the Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli has also been the Artistic Director of the baroque ensemble Les Musiciens du Prince. Developed as Bartoli’s idea, in collaboration with the Monte Carlo Opera, this orchestra of international musicians began touring Europe at the end of last year after an inaugural concert in the courtyard of the Monegasque Prince’s Palace. The ensemble and singer have returned to the Principality for two performances of La Cenerentola by Rossini, at the Grimaldi Forum (on 04 and 07 February 2017, at 8 p.m.).
Cecilia Bartoli found some time to answer a few questions of the Nice-Matin before her evening performance.
How shall we address you, Cecilia Bartoli or Madam Director of Les Musiciens du Prince?
(Laughs) That’s a role I like! It was a real challenge to create an orchestra. But I have faced a lot of challenges over the last ten years. I also became Artistic Director of a very important festival (the Pentecost Festival of Salzburg, Austria). Before me, there were only conductors who had the role!
And only men?
And only men! There was maestro Muti, maestro Karajan. This has been a real change in my artistic life. The same with creating an orchestra that plays period instruments.
Why this orchestra?
I had this idea of working on a project based on Italian and European musicians who had left in the mid- eighteenth century to work at the court of Saint Petersburg for the great Tsars. I was overwhelmed! I found extraordinary music composed by Italians, sung by castrati and played by European musicians. I said to myself: it would be great to find, today, a court that would like to embark on this same project, with instruments from this period!
And why Monaco?
Because I found the court! And above all, a Princess and a Prince who are very interested in the project, who love classic music and art in general, and who have decided to support us. I have to thank them for that, it’s exceptional.
You have begun to tour with the orchestra, how has it been going so far?
We had a fantastic tour in Europe in 2016. It was a huge artistic success, we received some good reviews and the rooms were sold out. That helps a lot! All this has been possible thanks to the dedication and hard work of my musicians, of the first violin, Ada Pesch, of everyone. We have performed in the most prestigious venues in Europe: at the Musikverein in Vienna, at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris, at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. We have performed for very demanding audiences.
You mentioned your first violin, Ada Pesch, a woman in that role, too!
(Laughs). I chose a woman who has a great deal of talent and experience, that’s what matters. I worked with her a lot in Zurich, with the conductors Harnoncourt and William Christie… She has the necessary knowledge and ability for this role.
In Monaco, you have begun a tour of La Cenerentola by Rossini, a role for which you earned fame as a young singer. Is it special to be taking on the role again?
That’s true! Yes, this show is special, especially since we are celebrating the bicentennial of its creation. The Cenerentola is one of the most incredible operas by Rossini, with Le Comte Ory and II Viaggioa Reims. Out of the semiseria operas, dramma giocoso (semi-serious operas, comic dramas) it is the most moving. It has this melancholy side and at the same time it has all the joy and bubbliness that are found in Rossini’s music. Rossini is champagne!
As you are both an actress and a singer, which Cenerentola will you be this time?
I’ve been singing La Cenerentola for 20 years. We will present the show in a kind of semi-stage, we will use the costumes from the production by Cesare Lievi, which we had played at that time in Zurich, and we will try to show all the richness that there is in the music and in the character. It’s all about nostalgia, and love triumphs. Love is the only wealth we have, as human beings. Above all, love!
You focus on the text as much as the voice and regret that it is not always the case of young opera artists…
You are right, unfortunately. What makes the magic of opera is the music and libretto, and the text. We have the chance, compared with theatre actors for example, to have music! We need to merge the two. You have to plunge into the character and play with the words as well as with the voice. We tell a story at the opera, so if we are only singers, it’s not enough.
You have sung Rossini, Bellini, Handel, and you also like to help people discover lesser-known composers.
Yes! This is important because today in 2017 a composer like Porpora, for example, is not played enough. In the eighteenth century Porpora was huge! Farinelli, the great castrato, was his pupil. Farinelli at that time was like Michael Jackson! This music, at the time, had the strength to make people cry, to make them laugh. In 2017, this power is still there, but it must be made known to the public, because it has been forgotten.
200 Years of La Cenerentola
Cecilia Bartoli and Les Musiciens du Prince are celebrating the bicentenary of the creation of La Cenerentola Opera in two acts, created in Rome in 1817 by Rossini, and inspired by the tale of Cinderella, by Perrault. The first two performances will be at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco (One was on 4th February and the next coming up this Tuesday), before a tour that will take them to Germany, the Netherlands and the Royal Opera of Versailles during the month of February. In this version, Cinderella is Angelina, the stepmother is a stepfather and the famous slippers are a pair of bracelets.
The show presented by Cecilia Bartoli and the Monegasque Baroque ensemble is a semi-stage version, in other words concert with the musicians on stage, but with actors in costume.
The Cenerentola of Gioachino Rossini. Tuesday, February 7th, at 8pm.
At the Grimaldi Forum, Salle des Princes in Monaco.
Rates: from 95 to 125 €. Info: (00377) 98062828 and: (00377) 99993000
So, if you are interested in seeing the great Cecilia Bartoli and her Baroque musicians perform the Cenerentola by Rossini while they are still in Monaco, don’t wait to check out last minute ticket sales.