46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
STUNNING AND, AT TIMES, PLEASING,
This review is from: Sacrificium (2 CD Deluxe Edition + Book) (Audio CD)
Another daring undertake by superdiva Cecilia Bartoli, this time literally resurrecting very obscure and extremely difficult arias sung by some of the most famous castrati in the XVIIIth Century. Of course she is not the first to record a whole album with this kind of material, but this one stands out for its rarity and extreme demands regarding breath control, coloratura display and expressive utterance. Apparently all the pieces but one in the first disc of this two-CD special edition are world premiere recordings and some are very fine indeed, others could have remained forgotten without any great loss. Bartoli sings all of them with her trademark enthusiasm (sometimes too much of a good thing), bravely and exhibiting mostly impressive coloratura, but the sound is not always good, and sometimes to my ears quite unpleasant. There is no way we can be sure how they sounded when sung by the castrati, but I don't think they produced some of the sounds heard here. At one point, with no disrespect, it seems like a caricature of a hen trying to sing. The bonus disc, with three better known arias, is far more pleasing to the ears. I'm happy I bought the disc and I will be coming back to some of its tracks often. Others could be interesting to explore a bit further. The rest, well, could have remained gathering dust. Some things are best forgotten. So much worthy repertoire out there and life being so short...
PS. The 2 discs are housed in a beautifully produced and quite thick book, as we have come to expect from Bartoli releases, this one being the most lavish yet. With plenty of information in an illustrated castrati dictionary in three languages (no Spanish, although ironically the record has been produced "with the generous support" -it says at the back- of Junta de Castilla y León), a good essay, a full libretto of arias sung and lots of pictures of Bartoli, or to be exact of her head attached (via Photoshop) to kind of classical marble sculptures, the point of which escapes me.