Bartoli’s fans have the numbers but her detractors are loud. And although I myself adored her in the beginning of her career I was not always fully convinced of her interpretation in later years. Nonetheless I must say I loved the recital given in Brussels. The evening opened with an orchestral piece. And while the pompous ouverture dazzled towards its end the doors fling open and a white dressed Bartoli appears reaching the middle of the stage exactly in the moment the orchestra plays its final chord. It’s this kind of tacky things that Bartoli’s fans seem to love. Similarly, after an aria di furore she storms off the stage and out the door while the orchestra finishes. No big harm though. All her idea’s are a vast artistic and cultural process able to elicit curiosity. This was the case for Sacrificium, for Mission and many others. And it is the same for St Petersburg, an album dedicated to composers who wrote for the Russian court in the 18th century. From a nightly calm with chirping birds, through the mentioned aria di furore and the dramatic Vado a morire, to the duets with the solo instruments and a dueling contest with the trombone, I find her program very balanced with a wide variety of affetti. Bartoli surmounts the difficult coloratura with insouciant ease and interprets every single piece with the depth that characterizes her. Every word, every syllable has a meaning. And that she is still able to pronounce so clearly that I could understand everything even in the 5th row from the back on the second balcony makes her a remarkable artist able to move me with every single piece.
Sure the upper register is not very full and the move to a soprano register made her voice lose some body but the difference with previous years is that she returns to the calmer interpretation that I admired so often. Gone are the hyperactive body movements, gone the exaggerated sighs. What I found was an artist who serves the music with refined interpretation and creativity. Diego Fasolis and his I barocchisti are a perfect match.