Saturday, December 09, 2006

Cecilia Bartoli in Paris

Cecilia Bartoli at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris, 8 December 2006

Her voice is at once among the prettiest and the ugliest. Just as she inspires awe with her soft, creamy sound in slow passages, so she annoys with her hideous coloratura. Whatever you make of Bartoli, there's no doubt that she knows how to thrill an audience. Some of this is intentional. Her programming ends both halves with a bang, and she doles out red meat for encores ("Bel piacere," "Ombra mai fu" and "Da tempeste"). Some of her appeal is probably unintentional, as we find ourselves chuckling at her infamous facial tics and spastic dance moves. (Is she actually conducting the ensemble or just really caught up in the music?) Still, there's something lovable about this charming woman and natural talent.

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