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Tuesday, December 18 , 2018, 8:19 am | Partly Cloudy 44º


CAMA Brings the Great Cecilia Bartoli to Santa Barbara

The world-renowned mezzo-soprano will perform 'Maria Malibran's Salon Romantique' at The Granada.

The Community Arts-Music Association (CAMA) has arranged a very special treat for us this week. It has nothing to do with the Felix Mendelssohn Bicentennial, but it is an extraordinary opportunity to enjoy the human voice lifted in songs with words.

The great Italian mezzo-soprano, Cecilia Bartoli, will perform at The Granada on Thursday.
The great Italian mezzo-soprano, Cecilia Bartoli, will perform at The Granada on Thursday. (Uli Weber photo)
The incomparable mezzo-soprano, Cecilia Bartoli, will offer “Maria Malibran’s Salon Romantique,” a recital of early 19th century songs, at 8 p.m. Thursday at The Granada. Pianist Sergio Ciomei will accompany.

As the title La Bartoli has given it suggests, the program has been assembled according to songs one might have heard in the Brussels salon of the famous Parisian-born Spanish contralto Maria Felicita (García) Malibran (1808-1836), whose own bicentennial was celebrated March 24, 2008. Bartoli clearly identifies with Malibran –– whose brilliant career was cut tragically short, at age 28, by a fall from her horse in London. We will hear songs by Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868), Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835), Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848), Pauline García-Viardot (1821-1910), and Malibran herself.

Classical music has many houses, and those who devote their time to one house — chamber music, song, ballet, orchestral music, opera, sacred music, instrumental virtuosity, and so on — do not always take the trouble to acquaint themselves with what is going on in all the rest. But I daresay all music lovers have heard of Bartoli. Her fame transcends her field the way Mikhail Baryshnikov‘s transcends his. To hear Bartoli’s performance of a given piece of vocal music is to decide, as Otto Klemperer decided the first time he heard Mahler conduct: “You felt that it could not be otherwise.” In addition to her truly extraordinary histrionic ability, she has a voice both adorable and utterly pure, together with a technical mastery that banishes doubt. Bartoli’s singing can transform the soul of the basest listener into a thing of light and gold.

Malibran was the daughter of a tenor with an international reputation, Manuel del Popolo García, and an equally accomplished actress, Joachina Sitchez. She took a child’s role in an opera when she was 5. Her father began to display her solo singing when she was 15; by the time she was 17, she was replacing world-famous divas at the drop of a hat.

Maria Malibran (1808-1836) was a star of astonishing brilliance in the early 19th century.
Maria Malibran (1808-1836) was a star of astonishing brilliance in the early 19th century.
She was no sooner launched on her epoch-making career than her father made her marry, against her will, an elderly Parisian businessman named Malibran on the assumption that he was rich and would be eternally grateful. When Malibran went bankrupt less than a year after the marriage, Maria cut him loose and, in 1830, met and fell in love with the violinist Charles de Bériot, with whom she happily spent the last six years of her life. Two days after her 28th birthday, the marriage to Malibran finally annulled, she married De Bériot (their son, Charles, was already 4 years old). The composer Pauline Viardot was, in fact, Maria Malibran’s younger sister, who was also quite a famous singer –– as well as being a spectacular linguist and brilliant painter.

Click here to order tickets online or call the Granada Box Office at 805.899.2222 or from CAMA at 805.966.4324.

Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.

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