Cecilia Bartoli: The Passion of Song  


Cecilia Bartoli, at the age of twenty-nine, has risen to the top of the opera world. Her astonishing mezzo coloratura has been called the finest since those of Marilyn Horne and Teresa Berganza, her recordings have sold more than a million copies, and her concerts and operas are sold out in hours. What has made Bartoli an overnight sensation? Why does she fascinate so many people? In this first book about the singer, Kim Chernin and Renate Stendhal, go in search of the mystery behind the legend. Kim Chernin first heard Bartoli when she was hardly a name, let alone a legend. Here she tells the story of a fan’s quest to meet her idol and understand the nature of a musical obsession. Renate Stendhal adds a detailed performance guide that examines the first decade of Bartoli’s career as an opera singer, from her first public appearance on the Italian TV show “Fantastico,” to her debuts at La Scala and the New York Metropolitan. Stendhal analysis Bartoli’s development as a comic, romantic and dramatic performer.

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“Cecilia Bartoli–The Passion of Song is really two books in one. The first is author Kim Chernin’s account of a growing fascination with Bartoli’s voice and the desire to meet the singer and interview her about her art. The second is a performance guide by coauthor Renate Stendhal that traces the singer’s career from its beginnings on Italian television to her debuts at La Scala and the Met.

Neither author takes a particularly critical look at Cecilia Bartoli’s talents or her career, but fans of the singer will find plenty of information about their idol, from her early years studying opera under the tutelage of her mother Silvana Bazzoni, also a singer, to the master classes she now teaches in concert with Ms. Bazzoni.”

This book…chronicles the twin careers of Cecilia Bartoli–a still-young world star possessed of real vocal endowment and an estimable degree of innate musicianship, who wields in performance a restless, unleashed charm–and of her mother, Silvana Bazzoni, a lyric soprano ex-chorister of the Rome Opera….

– James McCourt, The New York Times, Book Review

Cecilia Bartoli, still under 30, has made her mark so far as a coloratura mezzo singing the lighter repertory of Mozart and Rossini in bel canto style. She began as a dancer and became an actor, and she specializes in bringing her characters physically to life, much as Maria Callas did. Her teacher is her mother, Silvana Bazzoni, who sang Manon Lescaut in her youth. Chernin reviews five Bartoli performances in Berkeley and transcribes a conversation with her in Houston. She is obsessed with the role Bartoli’s mother played in shaping her daughter’s career, and she brings to life the intense discipline Bazzoni teaches, which concentrates first on singing notes purely, with superior breath control, and then on introducing words that are clearly pronounced. Stendhal contributes a guide to some 10 years of Bartoli’s opera performances; it consists mostly of plot summaries with commentary on Bartoli’s interpretations. Altogether, she and Chernin give us not a biography but two adoring fans’ personal perspectives on a most promising singer.

– Alan Hirsch, Booklist

Then, a great satisfaction. Kim Chernin’s book has the power to describe with precision the deep turmoil experienced by those fascinated by Cecilia Bartoli, this divine prima donna. Chernin’s pursuit to define Bartoli’s personality as well as the emotional impact that she bears on her audience, helps us understand the reasons for our admiration if not our fascination for this great interpreter. Many times, Kim Chernin identifies and pinpoints the feelings, impressions, agonies and even the obsessions linked with Cecilia Bartoli’s singing. And, to me, that is a matter of achievement.

This book can serve as a guide for the true opera lovers to identify the profound reasons for their passion. It! is far from bringing all the answers, but it leads the way, if in return we are ready to open our heart. Cecilia Bartoli – The Passion of Song offered to me other things than a sample biography, and then a little bit more. Because Chernin’s approache is more speculative and musing, brooding, subjective, she brings new light to everything in me I concider ‚ human é toward Cecilia Bartoli. Furthermore, if Cecilia Bartoli generates as much passion in her audience, it is because she knows how to transmit us her passion for singing. In return, Kim Chernin offers a book full of passion. To me, Chernin’s book relates to the recognition of the public that rises to Cecilia Bartoli at the end of each of her stage performances. Chernin expressed herself with warmth and emotion, by reminding us that with Bartoli, there is no barrier between the role and the voice, the performer and the audience, creating therefore an identification and communion miracle. So, I have been delighted in finding a book like the one of Kim Chernin with Renate Stendhal.

– Claire Picard, from Amazon.com