Cecilia Bartoli has homes in Switzerland, Austria and Italy. Anna Maria Liguori talked to her about them for the Repubblica newspaper.
Rome is my city of choice. For love, I moved to Zurich as I married a Swiss [baritone Oliver Widmer], but Rome has been my inspiration, especially when I was starting out, when I was beginning my love affair with music. I have wonderful memories of Rome.
The park of Villa Pamphili is a special, enchanted place, near my house in the Monteverde district. When you go in and lose yourself in that huge area of green, with the sun shining through the trees, you feel you are in a magical place.
A home is where you can be with those you love, and those who love you, maybe after returning from a long and tiring tour. Home is where you return to be with your partner, with family, with friends, but also enjoy those more personal rooms, with the furniture and objects I’m most attached to.
Tip for burglars: this is where Bartoli keeps her collection of Maria Malibran memorabilia.
In her meteoric career, Malibran did everything: she sang, composed, wrote, and she played three instruments. Collecting her objects has allowed me to get to know the woman who, in just ten years, influenced Romantic composers such as Mendelssohn, Bellini, Liszt, and also the fashions of the time.
On the cover of her album dedicated to Malibran, a bracelet belonging to the great singer sparkles in colour in an otherwise black and white photo.
The bracelet was given to me by some Neapolitan friends. In 1835 she was singing La Cenerentola at La Fenice in Venice. In that role, she gives a bracelet to the Prince, and it was that bracelet that I was given by my fans, and I treasure it.
In Rossini’s opera, Cinderella doesn’t have a glass slipper but a bracelet.
Second note for burglars: Bartoli also keeps all her concert gowns in large wardrobes in Zurich.
Many are by Vivienne Westwood who is wonderful at creating corsets which follow the lines of the body but also allow me to breathe easily. After a concert I often wear Armani, who now produces clothes for more ample women!
I’m very happy at my home in Salzburg. It’s in the historic centre, and although it’s old it has modern furniture and is full of interesting nooks and crannies. It has a white staircase, stripped to the bare essentials, which I often use for photo shoots. Also the main room, with its large windows, is all in white, including the sofas. I feel at home with these modern pieces of design which go so well with the large, high rooms.
I love old buildings; I interpret ancient sounds, and I need to breathe history… but I also love refined and adventurous designers. For the homes where I live, I have chosen long tables, all created by today’s designers. It’s a way of living between past and present. It is a house full of light… I couldn’t live without lots of light.
Wherever I’m living, the room I love the most is the room that has the piano.
Cecilia Bartoli lives in Switzerland, Austria and Italy, but, as she says in the opening of the interview, Rome is her city of choice, her hometown, capital of Italy, the country that has given more to her chosen field than any other. Yet she adds,
I took La Cenerentola to the Chateau de Versailles and we’ll take it around Europe… except in Italy. In my own country I don’t even have one performance of the opera in the 200th anniversary year of its composition.
I often think of the Reggia di Caserta in Naples, which, to be honest, is the equal of Versailles, in fact, it is far more beautiful, though somewhat neglected. I have a dream: to bring La Cenerentola to Caserta, or another Palace in Italy. Who knows, maybe someone will hear my words and invite me to Italy. That way I’d go to Rome and see the lemon trees in my garden, and smell their perfume. I love it when it is music that takes me home.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.