A few days ago I read with quite a lot of interest a statement by a not very well-known singer, who claimed that she was born addicted to music like a drug addict. Indeed, music can be somehow enslaving, especially if you have an ability to sing or can play a musical instrument. Those with dry ears may be addicted to listening to music and performers who are gifted and have amazing vocal skills. But do we really appreciate these artists who are valuable? Judging by what we read in the press and watch on TV, I would say ‘No’. I find it surprising, which artist is being called ‘an extraordinary voice’ or ‘voice of the year’ by journalists.
However, Italian classical singer Cecilia Bartoli is one of those who knows how to captivate her listeners, but apart from occasional media coverage, she seems to be invisible to the wider public. Cecilia, who is now in her 40s, made her debut in 1996 at the Metropolitan Opera as Despina in opera buffa Così fan tutte (Thus Do They All) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Her repertory mainly consists of works by Mozart and Rossini.
I remember when I heard her voice for the first time like it was yesterday. Her pieces were shown to me my accompanist from the Music School, Ms Manuela Wielicka, who had been popular among the Music School pupils as a collector of music albums. I wonder if there is an album that she hasn’t had in her music library. Anyway, many years ago, when I heard Cecilia’s voice for the first time I had an impression of exceptional charm and warmth. It wasn’t too gaudy or light or too dark, it sounded very confident and was breath taking. No wonder, that she became a singer, who I’ve admired. She performs the plainest arias as if they were the most noble ones. Those who know her performance of baroque pieces like ‘O cessate di piagarmi’ by Alessandro Scarlatti, Amarilli, mia bella by Giulio Caccini or Se tu m’a mi by Pergolesi, are also aware what I’m talking about.
Some people dislike her facial expressions when she sings; others appreciate her outward appearance more than her voice. If we talk about personal tastes, we may find many things that would not match our idea of an ideal singer and his body language. But considering determinants of pure art, her skills, range and charm of her voice are out of the question: she’s one of the best living classical singers.