The Italian Almanac

Cecilia Bartoli

Italian Music - June 5

Mezzo soprano Cecilia Bartoli is lighting up the stage of the Royal Opera House these days. The occasion is the first production on that stage of Rossini's "Il Turco in Italia" ("The Turk in Italy"), an opera that has languished in the shadow of the composer's better known "L'Italiana in Algieri" ("The Italian Girl in Algiers"), partly under the mistaken impression that it's a cheap imitation of that earlier success.

"Il Turco," which premiered at La Scala in 1814 when Rossini was just 22, was his 13th opera. It may lack the hit tunes that grace his best-known comedy, "Il Barbiere di Siviglia," but it's full of melodic invention, and at Friday night's performance it bubbled along merrily enough to keep the sold-out house thoroughly entertained.

This is only Bartoli's second appearance at Covent Garden, following her 2001 debut in a Haydn rarity, "L'anima del filosofo." Partly because of the size of her voice, she chooses her operatic engagements sparingly, preferring to concentrate on her concert career rediscovering gems by composers like Vivaldi and Gluck.

Cecila Bartoli - Official Website