Antonio Salieri has become a household name thanks largely to the success of Peter Shaffer's 1984 film 'Amadeus' which dramatised the life of Mozart.
But while the film popularised Salieri's name it also portrayed him as a mediocre composer envious of Mozart's talents, creating an image of Salieri's attempted belittlement of his work and ultimately suggesting he was responsible for Mozart's death. This is not entirely true, but what is a fact is that as a consequence of Mozart's huge popularity, Salieri did gradually become undervalued, misunderstood and his works rarely performed.
The history books however reveal Salieri to be a talented violinist, pianist and singer who wrote scores of successful operas which in fact made him a more successful composer in his lifetime than Mozart enjoyed in his own time. So it's albums like this 2003 Cecilia Bartoli release which help redress the balance and put Salieri's name back into the limelight.
Cecilia's brilliantly agile vocals will be familiar to her existing fans and probably a slight surprise to her new listeners, for she is surely one of the most talented opera singers of our generation. Her style of singing is not to everyone's liking maybe, but to hear her is to hear opera singing at its most stunningly dramatic.
As is the custom with many of her albums this too comes with a CD size hardcover book with 67 pages (13 are a biography of Salieri in English), showing full libretti and some beautiful pictures of carved statues.
The purpose of the album is best described (on the sleeve notes) by the singer herself:
'Discovering the operas of Antonio Salieri has been a great experience. I hope this recording will help Salieri to emerge from the shadow of Mozart and finally accord him the status he deserves'.
This is one for the collector, the Bartoli admirer, the opera fan or the inquisitive, none of whom should be disappointed.