Mozart Portraits Bartoli
For her second disc of Mozart arias (the first was reviewed in December 1991), Cecilia Bartoli tries on the costumes of a few characters she has not played in the opera-house. It seems unlikely that such a bubbly Cherubino would do better to swap to the role of the Countess, or that a winning Zerlina would rush to play Donna Elvira, but on disc anything is possible. Taking this selection of arias together with her other Mozart/da Ponte recordings, we can now hear Bartoli in all three female roles in Cosi fan tutte, three in Le nozze di Figaro and two in Don Giovanni—versatility unbounded.
There are relatively few Italian mezzos, or sopranos for that matter, who sing a lot of Mozart and Bartoli's very Italian characteristics are immediately identifiable: brilliance of execution, vitality of words, sharpness of mind. She tears into the recitative before Donna Elvira's ''Mi tradi'' with a blistering fury that leaves most interpreters of the role standing and has no problems with the fioriture of the aria itself. Her Fiordiligi has the bite for ''Come scoglio'', but comparisons with a variety of lyric sopranos show up a want of depth to the tone, both here and in ''Per pieta''. Her Countess delivers her lines with appropriately aristocratic weight, though one senses her natural temperament being suppressed with difficulty. However much she tries to disguise herself, the real Bartoli is likely to pop her head out.
There are unlikely to be any complaints about her effervescent Despina or Zerlina, both portrayals for which she has stage experience. In the concert-hall she is also a spirited interpreter of
All the arias are sung without additional decoration. The orchestral sound might be more firmly focused (the sound picture in ''Batti, batti'' has the solo cello close, while the wind struggle to be heard from some deep recess) but Fischer accompanies his soloist with energy and tact. It will be interesting to see where Bartoli's stage appearances in Mozart go from here. '