Artist of the Week: Cecilia Bartoli

Legendary Italian Mezzo Makes her Wiener Staatsoper Debut

By Francisco Salazar

This week the Wiener Staatsoper is set to present a Rossini Festival entitled Rossini-Mania. The festival will bring the Opéra de Monte-Carlo and Les Musiciens du Prince-Monaco to the legendary Vienna hall with opera star Cecilia Bartoli, who is making her Wiener Staatsoper debut.

It’s a notable surprise for audiences as Bartoli has performed at every major theater around the world but at the Vienna State Opera she only appeared in a concert performance. Now she will appear in two operas she has become well-known for and a star-studded gala evening.

Regarding the repertoire she chose, she said, “When Bogdan Roščić asked me if I would be interested in accepting a kind of carte blanche at the State Opera in 2022, I immediately connected this honorable invitation with the ‘Rossini fever’ that overtook Vienna in 1822 – and the idea was born to commemorate a little of this musical landslide that swept Vienna when Rossini arrived in this city and presented his best works.”

She will open the festival with “La Cenerentola,” a work she first performed in 1997 at the Zurich Opera and went on to sing to great acclaim at the Metropolitan Opera and Houston Grand Opera, among others. Critics have raved about her interpretation stating, “Cecilia Bartoli is a firework come to life. Her range is phenomenal, and the poignancy and nuances of her delivery are second to none.”

The role has become one of her signatures over time and the mezzo herself said it is one of her favorites. She said, “‘La Cenerentola’ wasn’t very popular for a long time, but now it is. For me, the work is definitely one of Rossini’s finest operas and one of the most satisfying to sing and play. It’s very entertaining, but also has melancholy and poetic sides – so I wouldn’t necessarily consider ‘La Cenerentola’ ‘a typical’ buffo opera.”

She will continue her festival with “Il Turco in Italia,” a work that has gained popularity over time and which Bartoli has recorded and performed at Monte Carlo. Regarding her interpretation, OperaWire said, “What was most impressive about Bartoli’s approach to the role of Fiorilla was the infinite variety of vocal colors she possesses in all registers, and her willingness to take risks with dynamic shadings, such as letting the highest notes of a phrase emerge with a seemingly effortless pianissimo.”

Finally, the festival will end with a gala that will showcase many of Bartoli’s friends and colleagues.

For those not in Vienna, Bartoli will perform at the Salzburg Festival reprising a production of “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” from her Whitsun Festival, and in the fall will return to the Maggio Musical Fiorentino for “Alcina.” She is also set to return to the Zurich Opera for “La Cenerentola.”


Bartoli has one of the biggest discographies of any living artist and has recorded a variety of Rossini albums and operas. The mezzo has recordings of “Il Turco in Italia” and “La Cenerentola” as well as “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” “L’Italiana in Algeri,” “Le Comte Ory,” and “Otello,” among others.

Here she is singing arias from “Il turco in Italia” and “La Cenerentola.”