Garcia; Persiani; Mendelssohn; Rossini; Balfe; Hummel; Bellini; Malibran

COMPOSERS: Garcia; Persiani; Mendelssohn; Rossini; Balfe; Hummel; Bellini; Malibran
LABELS: Decca
ALBUM TITLE: Garcia; Persiani; Mendelssohn; Rossini; Balfe; Hummel; Bellini; Malibran
WORKS: Maria: arias by Garcia, Persiani, Mendelssohn, Rossini, Balfe, Hummel, Bellini & Malibran

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PERFORMER: Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo-soprano), Daniel Casares (guitar); Orchestra La Scintilla

CATALOGUE NO: 074 3252 (NTSC system; dts 5.1; 16:9 picture format)
Of the two DVDs packaged together here, the first is a live concert of Bartoli’s tribute to her great predecessor, Maria Malibran. Anyone who already has the CD (reviewed December 2005) might wish to know that there are new items: the Cenerentola finale – a Bartoli warhorse of longstanding; the ‘Willow Song’ and ‘Prayer’ from Rossini’s Otello, to which she brings a melancholy, misty-eyed tone; and a rare aria from The Maid of Artois, the English-language opera the Irish composer and baritone Balfe wrote for Malibran in 1836.

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Bartoli’s tone may have lost some of its quality, but her sheer spirit remains hard to match. It also informs the research she has done into Malibran’s life, which forms the subject of the film on the second DVD. Here we see Bartoli visiting archives in Britain, Italy, France and Belgium, examining scores of the works Malibran performed and exploring her letters, portraits and death-mask, her homes and the theatres she sang in. The film also revisits Bartoli’s life, including the voices of her parents and her own debut at the age of eight, singing the Shepherd Boy in Tosca. Altogether this dual documentary is a worthy tribute to both mezzos. George Hall