Bartoli interview.png

…I am listening.

(Lovely interview (in German) with Cecilia Bartoli by Michael Atzinger for BR-Klassik yesterday,  including the above line, “Perhaps I should get started on Mozart’s male roles”.

Also contains: Baroque structure being very current-day, connecting through music as a space of the sacred, and being so over sensationalizing cross-gender performances since femininity and masculinity would be poles present within every human being, and of course an artist strives for range, end of story.

(the only points I would protest are detailing castrato voices as “feminine” (“singing in a today mostly female-associated range” would be a better descriptor for the aspect at hand), and the interviewer dig about Conchita Wurst. Can we not, please. And not as in ‘not talk about Conchita’, but as in ‘not sensationalize non-binarism as a freak show’.)

PS. Bartoli again mentions singing Don Giovanni. Yes please.

19 thoughts on “”

  1. I found the images provocative on several accounts, but I think it’s one of the purposes of art, is it not? The concept of gender is controversial for many people and I think we need more people like you to provide us with guidance for a correct reading (Maybe we can start with your comment “Gender is a relational performance” in your review of Ariodante in Vienna).

    In Bartoli’s interview, though, I found her below statement is very intriguing and I’d like to know what you think:

    “Ich sehe die Titelfigur als eine Art Erzengel, als Engel, der nicht nur auf die Erde kommt, um Ginevra zu retten, sondern die Menschlichkeit”

    (“I see the title figure as a sort of archangel, as an angel, who not only comes to the earth to save Ginevra, but humanity”)


    1. My first thought was, “that’s so Bartoli” – thinking about universal angles. And it is one I have not considered before for sure. If you look at our discussions of Ariodante, it is a lot of “he is young, he is naive, he is also quite an entitled jerk when it comes to Ginevra”. And in comes Bartoli with”celestial being concerned with humanity and yet beyond its borders”, and I want to see and hear her build this take.

      Gender *is* controversial. Though I think for many people it is not gender per se they find controversial, but performances that showcase just how arbitrary and fluid gender is, and can be. I don’t believe there is a “correct” reading, much less only one, I am much more on the side of what you mention with the purpose of art: that it forms and challenges our notions of humanity and should make us grow towards more communication, and less othering.

      I know that I tend to have little patience at times simply because gender and gender performance is something I think about a lot. Some of the provocativeness is certainly lost on me and some of the other White Shirts, who are perhaps more used to settings where gender binary is deconstructed (and where female bodies with facial hair are not such a rare occurrence).

      The strongest reactions happen, as far as I can observe it, not when someone crosses from the performance of one binary pole to the other, but when a performance combines elements of both (because it collapses the binary), which is what Bartoli does here – and in that context she discusses limiting one’s humanity to a strict adherence to either/or. Ariodante, the “archangel”, to use Bartoli’s image, moves beyond these limitations then, saving humanity by encompassing more than just a dichotomic position. That might be one way to look at it.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Very good points here to tickle one’s mind, from both Anonymous and Anik, thank you!

        I, on the other hand, don’t know whether the (Bartoli)point is at all about the binary view, but rather an extension from “either/or” to “either/or/and”.

        I tend to think the “bearded lady” is not ever just a woman wearing a beard, or a bearded man wearing skirts for that matter, but here (Bartoli case) my mind goes havoc. I don’t exactly know why, and that confuses me a bit. Conchita Wurst was unique at the time (in entertainment circles) – we the opera-lovers know better, of course, always have – but somehow Bartoli goes deeper here.

        I guess she shows that even the tickling androgenic characters we’ve always seen in opera roles go over and far beyond that “role” here. Am I right or am I just bartolized?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. oh, beautifully bartolized!

          but yes, moving beyond binary, not just combining two poles – hence perhaps the image of the encompassing/transcending celestial? (more so than Conchita)


        2. I’m sorry: I even confused myself verbally in the second to last of my sentences above.
          I meant to express that Bartoli here goes over and far beyond the tickling androgenic characters we’ve always seen in opera roles.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your elaborate reply (I could not expect less, though). When it comes to a controversial, or even a conflicted issue I always try to find some humor in it. I hope you do not mind me sharing a link as a partial (rather a humors) reply. (PS: I did not want the clip appear in this page so I added an “!” before the www.)



    Liked by 1 person

        1. Perhaps she was pretty spot-on with her archangel metaphor, because I see a man, but also someone beyond maleness/masculinity. Do archangels go on coffee dates and discuss their tailors? 😉

          Liked by 1 person

    1. nice to get some more glimpses, thanks!

      fingers crossed for a DVD release, though I am doubting it at this point.


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