Monday, 20 September 2010

Cecilia Bartoli and the Salzburg Whitsun Festival

As reported last week, Cecilia Bartoli will be assuming the artistic directorship of the Whitsun Festival from 2012, succeeding Riccardo Muti. Here are further details, direct from Salzburg:

20 September 2010

Press Release of the Salzburg Festival / Salzburg Whitsun Festival


The intendant designate of the Salzburg Festival, Alexander Pereira, has appointed Cecilia Bartoli to the post of artistic director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival with effect from 2012.

Alexander Pereira: “I am tremendously pleased that Cecilia Bartoli’s long association with Salzburg, which has proved so inspirational in the past, can now be placed on a new footing.

“The admirable courage that characterizes Cecilia’s work in terms of its quality and imagination has persuaded me to ask her to become artistic director of the Whitsun Festival under my intendancy and to help in shaping the festival from 2012 onwards.

“In addition to her Baroque and Classical projects, Cecilia has in recent years made a distinguished contribution to the bel canto repertory. As a result, our work together will not be limited to Baroque projects, in spite of what has been written elsewhere, but will extend to all the different areas of artistic endeavour to which she has brought such commitment.”

Cecilia Bartoli: “As one of my earliest supporters, Alexander Pereira took me under his wing while I was still a young beginner and over the years has offered me many wonderful opportunities to realize my artistic ideas. And so it is an immense pleasure and an honour to think that our friendship will result in this new and exciting collaboration in Salzburg.”

“I am pleased that Alexander Pereira succeeded in engaging with Cecilia Bartoli a charismatic artist for the Salzburg Whitsun Festival. She will surely continue the great success of the Riccardo Muti´s five-year project of the “Scuola Napoletana” in her own personal way, says Helga Rabl-Stadler, Salzburg Festival President.


The idea is to work on one opera a year as an independent production and to perform it at least twice over the Whitsun weekend. Concerts will be planned around the opera and will take place on individual days, expanding that year’s particular focus of interest in thematically relevant ways.

As a novel feature, the opera that is produced at Whitsun will be taken over into the festival’s summer programme and performed five or so times with the same cast.

The detailed programme will be announced at a later date.


It was in 1988 that Herbert von Karajan discovered the young mezzo-soprano from Rome and laid the foundations for Cecilia Bartoli’s long-standing association with the Salzburg Festival. Since 1993 she has appeared in Salzburg on a regular basis, performing Mozart’s principal operatic roles and all her most important concert works and recital programmes, while working with artists of the stature of Daniel Barenboim, Patrice Chéreau, Christoph von Dohnányi, Riccardo Muti, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Sir Simon Rattle and András Schiff and with orchestras as diverse as the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics, the Akademie für Alte Musik from Berlin, the Freiburger Barockorchester and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.


Cecilia Bartoli has been closely associated with the Zurich Opera for some twenty years and has appeared there in all her most important roles, including Mozart’s Da Ponte operas with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia and La Cenerentola and Handel’s Giulio Cesare and Semele. Together with the company’s intendant, Alexander Pereira, she has in recent years initiated a debate about works that represent an interesting addition to the operatic repertory from a historical point of view. Among these works are Haydn’s L’anima del filosofo, Paisiello’s Nina, Rossini’s Il turco in Italia and Halévy’s Clari. It was due, not least, to Cecilia Bartoli’s initiative that a series of staged performances of Handel’s Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno took place in 2004, the first time that Handel’s oratorio had been staged in modern times.

A new production of Rossini’s Le comte Ory is planned for next January. This will be based on a new edition using a reconstruction of Rossini’s own conducting score.


For more than twenty years Cecilia Bartoli has been one of the most important artists working in the field of classical music. It is a source of particular satisfaction to her that her projects find an echo in audiences far more diverse than those associated with the traditional concert repertory, making her the most successful classical artist of our generation. Her success is reflected in sales of ten million records, catapulting her into the world of pop stars in a way that is unique in classical music. In addition to her four Grammy Awards, she has been involved in a whole series of projects that have regularly ended up in the international pop charts among the top ten best-selling records. Her CDs have occupied this position for a total of more than 300 weeks.

This unique success has allowed Cecilia Bartoli to undertake a number of uniquely fascinating projects. Not only has she virtually single-handedly ushered in the worldwide renaissance of Vivaldi as an opera composer, but she has also rehabilitated Salieri as a composer worth taking seriously and paid homage to the artistry of the castrato in a programme unsurpassed for its complexity and virtuosity. More recently she has breathed new life into Italian bel canto operas by treating them as music dramas of immense subtlety, as is clear from her recent triumphant appearances in concert performances of Bellini’s Norma sung at the original pitch and adopting the vocal lines of the 1831 première.

“This is great artistry and at the same time a provocation” (Süddeutsche Zeitung)

“The public was on its feet roaring approval. […] It was not football that caused the excitement. […] It was Cecilia Bartoli’s first outing as Norma” (The Financial Times)

“Cecilia Bartoli is the most brilliant exponent of this art of vocal addiction” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

An important aspect of Cecilia Bartoli’s work has always been her historically informed performances not only in terms of her own vocal artistry but also with respect to the ensembles she has chosen to accompany her. She owes this interest in the historical background not least to her mentor Nikolaus Harnoncourt.

Cecilia Bartoli has received many awards for her work. In Italy she has been appointed Accademico effettivo di Santa Cecilia, in France she is a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres and an Officier de l’Ordre du Mérite, and in Great Britain she is a Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music. She recently received the Medalla de Oro al Mérito en las Bellas Artes, one of the highest awards of the Spanish Ministry of Culture, and the City of Paris’s Médaille Grand Vermeil.

On the occasion of the celebrations marking the 250th anniversary of Handel’s death in 2009 Cecilia Bartoli was appointed an honorary member of the advisory board of the Handel House Foundation in Halle and the following year she received the city’s Handel Prize. Also in 2010 she received the coveted Léonie Sonning Music Prize in Copenhagen, in a ceremony that was attended by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. This eventful season was rounded off by the decision of the venerable University College Dublin to award Cecilia Bartoli an honorary doctorate for her services to music.