Bartoli gives first Seoul recital
Cecilia Bartoli, one of the world’s best known mezzo soprano singers, is finally in Seoul for a recital that will be held today. This is her first time in Korea, and Maestro Chung Myung-whun will accompany her on piano.
“I’m very lucky that I’m working with such a fantastic and amazing conductor and pianist Maestro Chung,” Bartoli said. Chung also breathes with the singer, she added, a rare talent that augments their rapport. She’s also inspired by Chung’s playing, saying it is like holding a dialogue.
The two performed in Japan just before coming to Seoul and have known each other for more than 15 years. They toured together in Europe 10 years ago, and have recorded albums including “Chant d’Amour.”
Maestro Chung once said that Bartoli is the person who makes him want to accompany someone on the piano. Usually, conductors are not willing to play the piano for singers, even if they developed their careers as pianists. “For me, it’s like a musical vacation,” he said.
Maestro Chung remembered that the audience at one German performance, where they are known for being “very well behaved,” nearly stormed the stage after one joint performance. “She has such a powerful ability to captivate the audience as well as her voice and technique, which are so attractive and passionate,” he said.
Bartoli learned her singing technique from her parents, who were both singers, particularly her mother Silvana Bazzoni, who she still takes musical advice from. Her mother accompanied Bartoli to Korea.
Bartoli said she has also learned from other great musicians she has sung with, such as Herbert von Karajan and Daniel Barenboim, learning like a “sponge.” “Also, going to performances and listening to other people sing is really important,” she added.
On stage, Bartoli wears costumes designed by Vivienne Westwood. “If I sing a specific repertoire, she makes a dress that shapes me the personality for the singing,” she said. “She makes a corset [that feels] so free, but at the same time makes you look so well.”
When she’s not singing, she cooks for her family and looks for neglected pieces of music ― that’s how her new albums include newly discovered repertoires. Her latest album, “Opera Proibita” includes oratorios by Handel, Scarlatti and Caldara from the 18th century when operas were banned from being performed in Rome by the Catholic Church. She tries to visit the places where the composers lived because looking around the area makes her think and feel differently.
Bartoli considers herself “a child of the 18th century.” “I love music, painting, art, sculpture and buildings of the 18th century. It’s so fantastic and even inspires me.”
At her recital in Seoul, she will sing songs from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, including Mozart’s “Oiseaux, si tous les ans,” Beethoven’s “Ecco quel fiero istante,” Rossini’s “Nacqui all affanno” from the opera “Cinderella” and Bellini’s “Vaga luna, che inargenti.”
When asked if she has her own ritual before going on stage, “If I could find a great cappuccino before stepping on the stage, it’s already a great start,” Bartoli said.
by Park Sung-ha
Cecilia Bartoli and Maestro Chung Myung-whun perform today at 8 p.m. at the Seoul Arts Center. Tickets cost from 77,000 won ($79) to 330,000 won. For more information, call (02) 518-7343 or visit www.cmikorea.co.kr.