artoli is considered a coloratura mezzo-soprano (Koloratur-Mezzosopran) with an unusual timbre. She is one of the most popular (and one of the top-selling) opera singers of recent years. Bartoli is much liked by the concert-going public for her lively, vivacious on-stage persona, while her lyric voice and investigations of Baroque music have given her considerable recognition even among the non-opera-going public.
Bartoli’s parents, Silvana Bazzoni and Pietro Angelo Bartoli, were both professional singers and gave her her first music lessons. Her first public performance was at age eight as the shepherd boy in Tosca. Bartoli later studied at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome.
In contrast to most opera singers, Bartoli came to prominence in her early twenties, unusual in a profession where vocal maturity is typically not achieved until the thirties. She made her professional opera début in 1987 at the Arena di Verona. The following year she undertook the role of Rosina in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville at the Cologne Opera, the Schwetzingen Festival and the Zurich Opera earning rave reviews. She was soon invited by Herbert von Karajan to sing at the Salzburg Festival, and she worked with von Karajan on Bach’s Mass in B minor. At this time, she also came to Daniel Barenboim’s attention when he saw her performing on a French television tribute to Maria Callas. Working with the conductors Daniel Barenboim and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Bartoli focused on Mozart roles, such as Zerlina in Don Giovanni and Dorabella in Così fan tutte, and from then on her career has developed internationally.
In 1990 she made her début at the Opéra Bastille as Cherubino in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and her debut at the Hamburg State Opera as Idamantes in Mozart’s Idomeneo. This was followed by her La Scala début as Isolier in Le comte Ory in 1991, a performance which solidified her reputation as one of the world’s leading Rossini singers.
In 1996, she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera as Despina in Così fan tutte and returned the following year to sing the title role of La Cenerentola. On this occasion, there was much speculation that she had been secretly miked to boost her volume (as the Met is one of the largest opera houses in the world), but such rumours were steadfastly denied by the Met management. As a result of her acclaimed performance, the role of Angelina has become somewhat associated with her name.
In 2000 she triumphed in another Mozart soprano role, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. In 2001 she made a long-awaited Royal Opera House début, taking the roles of Euridice and the Genio in the London stage première of Haydn’s L’anima del filosofo.
In addition to Mozart and Rossini, Bartoli has spent much of her time performing and recording baroque and early classical era music of such composers as Gluck, Vivaldi, Haydn and Salieri. In early 2005, she sang Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare, a role written for a soprano, but which is in mezzo-soprano range. As her voice has matured it has gained the fullness and “largeness” it was earlier criticized for lacking. She often performs with the baroque Ensemble Il Giardino Armonico.
In 2007/08 Bartoli devoted her time to studying and recording the early 19th century repertoire – the era of Italian Romanticism and bel canto – and especially the legendary singer Maria Malibran, the 200th anniversary of whose birth was celebrated in March 2008. The album Maria was released in September 2007 and was number one in the Classical Billboard Charts in the U.S as well as achieving Gold status in Belgium and the Netherlands. In May 2008, Bartoli played the title role written for Malibran in a revival of Fromental Halévy’s 1828 opera Clari at the Zurich Opera. In June 2010 she sang the title role of Bellini’s Norma for the first time with conductor Thomas Hengelbrock in a concert in the Konzerthaus Dortmund. In March 2011, Bartoli toured five Australian cities with two programs, drawn from Sacrificium and Maria.