Cecilia Bartoli: three world-ranking mezzos #3

Wednesday night’s Cecilia Bartoli gig at London’s Barbican was breathtaking. I knew what to expect from several earlier Bartoli gigs – she gives spectacularly good show. Last night underlined her credentials as the most grown-up of grown-up musicians.

Performing for two hours with only piano accompaniment a repertoire rarely heard – Rossini and other bel canto chansons from mid-19thC Paris salons – she demonstrated her trademark technical mastery and emotional depth time and time again.

Whether in playful coloratura trills or in sombre, doleful ballads she showed why many (f’rinstance me, babe) regard her as the world’s pre-eminent singer, in any genre of music. If I were told I could only ever attend one more gig and asked to choose one musician, it would be Ms Bartoli.

Extraordinarily expressive singer… peerlessly intelligent musician… and a great creative artist – following her own agenda.

It doesn’t get any better than this – you could have guessed that from the full house, the standing ovation and the three encores.

Gerry Smith

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