Why is Baroque music so popular?
Baroque music is for the soul, connected to a period when there was great freedom of expression, which today we’ve lost.
There is an aspect of Baroque music that is improvised, and it is popular with young people because there are elements of jazz in it. Those who perform this type of music must be able to improvise, and this is something that in the Romantic era was lost.
Unfortunately, today’s theatres often offer the habitual 19th-century repertoire, but Italian opera was born with Monteverdi, or even further back in the Renaissance. Without taking anything away from the great masterpieces like Traviata, Bohème, and Carmen, we need to adapt to bring in an even greater public, new and younger.
Bartoli and her husband, the baritone Oliver Widmer, have a foundation for young performers.
We want to support young talent, not just singers but also composers, musicians, and conductors, who may not have the possibility of support from their families to pay for their studies. Musicality is inborn and can’t be taught. Still, you can recognise talent immediately by the person’s creativity, individuality, quality of the voice, and by a unique expressiveness.
When I started my career, the time to study was minimal; I was always travelling. At this moment in time, young musicians can take advantage of these long pauses: search out new repertoire, listen to music, read, and keep themselves informed.
In 2023 Bartoli will become the new director of the Monte Carlo Opera.
It’s a theatre where I have sung several times, and I would like to experiment with something new. For example, I’d like to create a space in the programming for children. It doesn’t exist now, and you certainly can’t put a Wagner opera in front of them – far too complicated plot-wise and musically. At this point in my career, I’d like to diversify. I’ve called various directors for innovative productions. Music isn’t just to be listened to but also ‘watched’. At the Paris Opéra, I was very taken with a production by the Polish director Krzysztof Warlikowski that had drones that moved around the exasperated character. It helped the audience see the drama from many different points of view.
Although she will run the Monte Carlo Opera, she will still be the director of Salzburg’s Whitson Festival – at least until her contract expires in 2026.
It was undoubtedly a big challenge as it was the first time that a woman had directed the festival. In the past it had usually been a conductor, like Riccardo Muti.
The next Festival programme is dedicated to her home town: Rome. Roma Aeterna is planned to run from 21–24 May.
It will be a musical journey travelling between the 18th century and Puccini’s Tosca, with a Handel Oratorio that he wrote when he arrived in Rome from Germany in 1700. He was so impressed by the city’s beauty.
Cecilia Bartoli was talking to Barbara Millucci, Corriere Innovazione
Photo of Cecilia Bartoli and the Les Musiciens du Prince of Monte Carlo © 2018 Alain Hanel, OMC
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.