Cecilia Bartoli on Rossini’s seductive Comte Ory


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Cecilia Bartoli — Mezzo-soprano

Program notes

To the delight of her many fans Cecilia Bartoli is back, with her dramatic personality and enchanting voice. She plays Countess Adèle in Rossini's Comte Ory.

At Zurich's Opera House internationally acclaimed singer Cecilia Bartoli has renewed ties with an old love, composer Gioachino Rossini, in Le Comte Ory.

In this production the action is set in the mid-twentieth century, in an anonymous French town where most of the men have left for war. She sings the soprano role of Countess Adèle. She speaks of her role in the opera and the difficulties involved in singing Rossini:

"In the First Act Count Ory is a hermit who lives in a caravan; this looks quite ordinary from the outside but inside it's a red light caravan! He counsels women who miss their husbands, and he invites them in. These women later leave his caravan a little stunned, they can't say what happened, but they are definitely happy!"

Euronews asked: "Musically speaking, Rossini is not the easiest to sing. What attracts the performer to his work?"

Cecilia Bartoli: "If you can sing Rossini in your career you will have a long one, and your instrument [i. e. the voice] will stay healthy. This is because with Rossini you need to keep your voice agile. Extension is very important, plus agility, breath control, legato, and you have to sing with coloratura, as well as being able to sustain long beautiful phrases without coloratura! All this is what you really need to be a good singer! Why doesn't everyone sing Rossini? Because Rossini is difficult!"

This is a comic tale of seduction, libertinage and disguise. In order to seduce the women in the countess' castle the hero, Count Ory, and his companions disguise themselves as nuns. Unmasked, the seducer escapes.

"The trio is probably the most beautiful moment in the opera, but it's also the most ambiguous. Because the count expects to find the countess in her room but in fact he ends up lying beside the young page Isolier! So in this scene there are three characters, it's all very ambiguous, and sensual at the same time! Besides, the countess' part here is quite difficult to sing, difficult but beautiful – I'd say it's 'magic'!"

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