Decca Classics releases a stunning collection of arias from Cecilia Bartoli, on 27th November 2020, ‘The Queen of Baroque’. Cecilia’s first compilation album in a decade features the very best of Bartoli’s treasured recordings of musical delights and discoveries of the 17th and 18th centuries, including two previously unreleased, world premiere recordings of forgotten jewels by Italian composers Leonardo Vinci and Agostino Steffani.
A champion of Baroque repertoire throughout her career, Cecilia is joined on this recording by special guests Philippe Jaroussky, June Anderson, Franco Fagioli and Sol Gabetta, sharing her passion for musical curiosities uncovered throughout the centuries.
The Baroque opera was rich with new material and a wide and eager audience. Costume styles evolved, casts changed, newly developed solo instruments were given a spotlight, but the stories explored within the music were reimagined again and again. Structurally, a Baroque opera consisted of arias threaded together by plot-thickening recitatives, resplendent with similes and allegorical vignettes. Arias could be plucked from one production and slotted into another, sometimes to create an opera pasticcio in which a ‘mega mix’ of popular hits featured in a new context. Rather than being considered plagiarism, this action paid homage to great musicians, and merely prolonged the life of an aria.
‘Queen of Baroque’ serves as a tribute to both Cecilia Bartoli, widely celebrated for her treatment of Baroque arias, and the composers that created the chart hits of the day. Moments of quiet contemplation contrast with the virtuosic: the full extent of the human condition is shared through cooing love duets, coloratura duels, religious fervour, warlike dramatism, moments of despair flirtatious humour and sensational discoveries.
As an artist always in search of a friendly musical challenge, Cecilia Bartoli finds winning collaborations with both established and emerging artists. ‘Queen of Baroque’ has allowed for renewed partnerships with Sol Gabetta, Franco Fagioli, Daniel Behle and Philippe Jaroussky. A duet with American soprano June Anderson serves as a testament to the early years of Cecilia’s career.
Over Cecilia’s celebrated career, period instruments and historically informed performance practice have played an integral part within her projects and led to the formation of her own orchestra, Les Musiciens du Prince-Monaco, in 2016. Cecilia is to become director of Monte-Carlo Opera in 2023. She remains Artistic Director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival through 2026.