Viewpoint: The Virtuoso

by F. Paul Driscoll.

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Cecilia Bartoli in Cesare Lievi’s staging of La Cenerentola at the Met, 1997
© Beth Bergman
ALBERTO ZEDDA Line Break Graphic
As we were going to press, we learned of the death of conductor, scholar and Rossini specialist Alberto Zedda at the age of eighty-nine.
Click here to read the obituary. 

CECILIA BARTOLI  gave just thirty performances with the Met during her five seasons on the roster—two concerts with the MET Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, plus appearances at the Metropolitan Opera House as Despina in Così Fan Tutte, the role of her house debut in 1996; Angelina in the 1997 Met premiere of La Cenerentola; and Susanna in Jonathan Miller’s staging of Le Nozze di Figaro. All three productions were telecast, so ample evidence remains of just how wonderful Bartoli was in all the roles she did in New York. Her last Met performance was as Susanna, in November 1998; Bartoli has released a clutch of superb recordings and made several U.S. concert tours since then, but she has chosen to base her opera career in Europe. I’ve seen and admired videos of her as Cleopatra, Semele, Comtesse Adèle and other roles, but it’s not the same as watching Bartoli live. I miss her.

It’s hard for me to believe that it has been almost twenty years since I saw Cecilia Bartoli in a staged opera: her characterizations were so vivid that I remember details of them as if I had seen them last week. Bartoli’s virtuosity extends beyond the vocal pyrotechnics that made her internationally famous when she was still in her twenties; her comic timing is world-class. In the Met’s Cenerentola staging devised by Cesare Lievi, the unhappy Angelina cleaned shoes as part of her drudgery. When the Prince arrived, Bartoli exploded into movement and got rid of the footwear so swiftly, so completely and with such fierce energy that it seemed as if the shoes were fighting back. The moment was miraculously funny and true because Bartoli didn’t stop the action for a “bit.” Her acting choice was singularly bold and beautifully accurate—just like her singing. spacer 

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F. PAUL DRISCOLL
Editor in Chief 




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