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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly diverse
Decca have excelled themselves this time with the presentation of this CD for it comes supplied with a hard-backed CD sized booklet of 150 pages (the first 37 in English, then translations to French and German, and the last 40 or so pages with libretti for all the tracks on the CD). The book is also lavishly illustrated, with photos of Cecilia Bartoli and various...
Published on 22 Nov. 2007 by Mart

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Breathy singing
I cannot imagine that Maria Malibran had a modestly sized, breathy voice and this album demonstrates a current singer who has just that. 'Casta Diva' as sung in this manner would never be heard in a major theatre without a microphone. It may well be a damning example of the way current artists are expected to sing to attract a more common 'crossover' audience but for me...
Published on 5 April 2011 by Jim N


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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly diverse, 22 Nov. 2007
By 
Mart (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Maria (Deluxe Hardback Edition) (Audio CD)
Decca have excelled themselves this time with the presentation of this CD for it comes supplied with a hard-backed CD sized booklet of 150 pages (the first 37 in English, then translations to French and German, and the last 40 or so pages with libretti for all the tracks on the CD). The book is also lavishly illustrated, with photos of Cecilia Bartoli and various artifacts such as jewellery and busts relating to Maria Malibran, the theme of this album.

The album is intended as a tribute to the French singer Maria Malibran, one of the most famous mezzo sopranos of the 19th Century, who died at the tragically young age of 28 in 1836. Her life was full of drama and scandal (she married a man 28 years her senior), emotional upsets (she divorced after a year) and controversy (such as refusing to sing in front of the King until he gave his permission for the audience to applaud whenever they wanted during her performances). This all made for great public interest, and ensured her name went down in musical history as one of the first real 'opera divas'.

The selection of songs here is from the era of Malibran, ranging from operatic pieces from composers Bellini and Hummel, to her own Fathers compositions and even a few of her own, which all adds up to an extremely diverse collection of music. This of course is the intention for it makes great demands on the singer and, if successful, achieves the admiration it deserves.

Bartoli fans will love this album, I certainly do, for it continues her custom of producing themed albums (Salieri, Vivaldi, Italian arias) which bring a sense of cohesion to each of them. Like all her previous recordings there are surprises, notable on this is Hummel's `Air a la tirolienne avec variations' which is a combination of classical aria and Alpine folk music, resulting in an alternation of singing styles from traditional opera to full blown yodelling. Difficult to imagine, but it works to great effect.

Anyone who hasn't heard Cecilia Bartoli sing, and thought all mezzo sopranos are in the style of singers such as (also greatly talented) Katherine Jenkins, will probably be amazed at the different results which vocals of the same range can achieve.

This is both a pleasing album for existing fans and an excellent introduction for newcomers to the exciting voice of Cecilia Bartoli.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Casta Contraversial Diva, 5 Dec. 2007
This review is from: Maria (Deluxe Hardback Edition) (Audio CD)
The concept of this album is good - to collect songs and arias connected to the legendary, short-lived diva Maria Malibran, and the more deluxe the edition of this you get, the more info provided.

Yet the implication that Decca and Bartoli are unique in their exploration of rare opera is most unfair. The independant record company OPERA RARA have been doing this for years, and not just recitals, but whole operas with fabulous singers like Nelly Miricioiu, Renee Fleming, Jennifer Larmore and co. They don't get all the hype and marketing that Bartoli gets. But their recordings (also presented in a "deluxe" way) have rather more artistic integrity and tell us more about Pacini, Bellini etc than Bartoli does.

So does MARIA live up to the hype?

Well, I really enjoyed this album, but there are few things to mention to prospective buyers. Firstly, Bartoli's coloratura, while stunningly accurate, can seem a bit agressive sometimes. The Casta Diva from Norma, is most unusually sung, almost whispered. This has aroused some controversy, but I rather like it - for a one off.

This is an album where Bartoli takes a few risks. Some come off, some don't. It's an incredible voice of course and I love her to bits. It's a good album. But if you enjoy it, do investigate OPERA RARA, where you will find a treasure trove of forgotten operatic jewels, from the age of Maria Malibran
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Breathy singing, 5 April 2011
This review is from: Maria (Deluxe Hardback Edition) (Audio CD)
I cannot imagine that Maria Malibran had a modestly sized, breathy voice and this album demonstrates a current singer who has just that. 'Casta Diva' as sung in this manner would never be heard in a major theatre without a microphone. It may well be a damning example of the way current artists are expected to sing to attract a more common 'crossover' audience but for me it does not wash. Cecilia is, or maybe WAS a gifted singer but she seems to have gone off the rails with this one. 'Ah non credea mirarti' from La Sonnambula is just the same. Breathy. There is also some flagrant technical cheating- fabricated trill, aspirated coloratura etc. She is supported by lame singers in the I Puritani excerpt.

A far better buy is Cecilia's Maria DVD live at the Pilau in Barcelona where she projects properly and we get the bonus of her singing Rossini's Desdemona which we do not get on this disc.

Maria Callas said 'no aspirates, ever', here is a disc full of them.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something very special, 11 Nov. 2007
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This review is from: Maria (Deluxe Hardback Edition) (Audio CD)
Heard the review of this album on Radio 4 and was literally stopped in my tracks by Cecilia's rendition of "Norma", it almost stopped my heart it was so lovely. What a very special voice.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Distinctive Signature of Her Own ... Bartoli ... Decca Records (2007)", 2 Dec. 2007
By 
J. Lovins "Mr. Jim" (Missouri-USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Maria (Deluxe Hardback Edition) (Audio CD)
Decca Records presents "MARIA" ---It's an absorbing tale Cecilia Bartoli tells --- She has the talent of not making anything sound that you've heard this before --- Cecilia is definitely one of a kind --- Her new recital is so brilliant that she makes this an art of special moments in the world of classical music --- From boldly plunging into every aria and then carving a distinct signature of her own --- The summation of her distinctive talents is she is one of the best today in the world of opera.

The Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli (born 4 June 1966, Rome) is an opera singer and recitalist --- She is best known for her Mozart and Rossini roles as well as for her performances of lesser known Baroque and Classical music --- Bartoli is considered a coloratura mezzo-soprano (Koloratur-Mezzosopran), with a highly individual timbre which she uses to great vocal and dramatic effect --- Though her timbre is quite dark, her tessiture is comparatively higher than those of other mezzos and therefore some speculate that she is a "soprano sfogato" --- She is one of the most popular (and one of the top selling) opera singers of recent years --- Bartoli is much liked by the concert going public for her lively, vivacious on-stage persona, while her lyric voice and investigations of other Baroque era music have given her considerable recognition even among the non-opera-going public.

Bartoli has developed repertoire suited to her voice --- In addition to Mozart and Rossini, she has been turning her attention to baroque and early classical era music of such composers as Gluck, Vivaldi, Haydn and Salieri --- In early 2005, she sang "Cleopatra" in Handel's "Giulio Cesare", a role written for a soprano, but which is in mezzo range --- As her voice has matured it has gained fullness and "largeness" it was earlier criticized for lacking --- She is generally considered one of the best mezzo-sopranos currently practicing --- In addition, she was honored with a medal from the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Maria - (Tracks Listings)

1. Irene (o L'assedio di Messina), opera: Se un mio desir... Cedi al duol [3:45]
Composed by Giovanni Pacini
Orchestra "La Scintilla" der Oper Zürich, Jürg Hämmerli, International Chamber Soloists and Una Prelle
Conducted by Adam Fischer

2. Irene (o L'assedio di Messina), opera: Ira del ciel [2:25]
Composed by Giovanni Pacini
Performed by Cecilia Bartoli, Orchestra "La Scintilla" der Oper Zürich, Jürg Hämmerli, International Chamber Soloists and Una Prelle
Conducted by Adam Fischer

3. Ines de Castro, opera: Cari Giorni [4:09]
Composed by Giuseppe Persiani
Performed by Cecilia Bartoli, Orchestra "La Scintilla" der Oper Zürich, Maria Goldschmidt, Daniel Pezzotti and Una Prelle
Conducted by Adam Fischer

4. Infelice, concert aria for soprano & orchestra, Op. 94 [12:19]
Composed by Felix Mendelssohn
Performed by Cecilia Bartoli, Maxim Vengerov and Orchestra "La Scintilla" der Oper Zürich
Conducted by Adam Fischer

5. El poeta calculista, opera: Yo que soy contrabandista [2:28]
Composed by Manuel Garcia
Performed by Cecilia Bartoli, Orchestra "La Scintilla" der Oper Zürich, Elena Vicini, Isabel Amaya, Ricardo Espinosa and Claudio Mermoud
Conducted by Adam Fischer

6. La sonnambula, opera: Ah! Non credea mirarti [4:17]
Composed by Vincenzo Bellini
Performed by Cecilia Bartoli, Orchestra "La Scintilla" der Oper Zürich, Jürg Hämmerli and Celso Albelo
Conducted by Adam Fischer

7. La sonnambula, opera: Ah! Non giunge [3:28]
Composed by Vincenzo Bellini
Performed by Cecilia Bartoli, Orchestra "La Scintilla" der Oper Zürich, Jürg Hämmerli and International Chamber Soloists
Conducted by Adam Fischer

8. Air à la tirolienne avec variations, for voice & orchestra, Op. 118 [7:27]
Composed by Johann Nepomuk Hummel
Performed by Cecilia Bartoli, Robert Pickup, Orchestra "La Scintilla" der Oper Zürich and Maria Goldschmidt
Conducted by Adam Fischer

9. La figlia dell'aria, opera: E non lo vedo... Son Regina [7:05]
Composed by Manuel Garcia
Performed by Cecilia Bartoli, Orchestra "La Scintilla" der Oper Zürich, Jürg Hämmerli and International Chamber Soloists
Conducted by Adam Fischer

10. Rataplan [2:28]
Composed by Maria Malibran
Performed by Cecilia Bartoli, Orchestra "La Scintilla" der Oper Zürich and Benjamin Forster
Conducted by Adam Fischer

11. Tancredi, opera: Dopo tante e tante pene [3:20]
Composed by Gioachino Rossini
Performed by Cecilia Bartoli and Orchestra "La Scintilla" der Oper Zürich
Conducted by Adam Fischer

12. I Puritani, opera: O Rendetemi la speme... Qui la voce [5:19]
Composed by Vincenzo Bellini
Performed by Cecilia Bartoli, Luca Pisaroni and Celso Albelo
Conducted by Adam Fischer

13. I Puritani, opera: Vien, diletto [2:50]
Composed by Vincenzo Bellini
Performed by Cecilia Bartoli, Luca Pisaroni and Celso Albelo
Conducted by Adam Fischer

14. L'éclair, opera: Come dolce a me favelli [4:38]
Composed by Jacques-François Fromental Halévy
Performed by Cecilia Bartoli, Ada Pesch and Orchestra "La Scintilla" der Oper Zürich
Conducted by Adam Fischer

15. Amelia (or Otto anni di costanza), opera: Scorrete, o lagrime [2:34]
Composed by Lauro Rossi
Performed by Cecilia Bartoli, Robert Pickup, Orchestra "La Scintilla" der Oper Zürich, Jürg Hämmerli and International Chamber Soloists
Conducted by Adam Fischer

16. L'elisir d'amore, opera: Prendi, per me sei libero [4:18]
Composed by Gaetano Donizetti
Orchestra "La Scintilla" der Oper Zürich
Conducted by Adam Fischer

17. Norma, opera: Casta diva [6:49]
Composed by Vincenzo Bellini
Orchestra "La Scintilla" der Oper Zürich, Jürg Hämmerli, Maria Goldschmidt and International Chamber Soloists
Conducted by Adam Fischer

Hats off to Decca Records --- strongly recommend this CD to all music lovers and all others who need to hear some great classical music --- Cecilia Bartoli and all the composers, conductors and orchestras please stand up and take a bow for this well deserved rare gem you've given us --- this is a keeper!

Total Time: 73 mins on 17 Tracks ~ Decca Records ~ (10/16/2007)
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Released in europe before UK (why?), 28 Oct. 2007
This review is from: Maria (Deluxe Hardback Edition) (Audio CD)
Another stunning album from Cecilia...couldn't wait for the UK release wanted to be the first in my street to own a copy- so got mine from Carrefour in France..am certainly not disappointed. I still marvel that a woman I've never met (nor likely to meet) has given me so much pleasure over so many years.....a must buy.
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