For an operatic superstar, Cecilia Bartoli has invested an unusual amount of energy into the musicological pursuit of researching (and then performing) obscure repertoire, particularly of the Italian Baroque and Romantic eras. In this release, she brings to light songs by Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti, and Gioachino Rossini, composers known almost exclusively for their operas. Each was a prolific song composer, but few of their works in this genre are known, and only a handful are published in modern editions. The songs represented here are mostly fairly simple strophic songs, but they reflect the same gift for melody and penchant for florid vocal display that characterized their operas. In fact, many of these songs could be slipped into their operas without causing any sense of stylistic or aesthetic disruption. Among the most striking are Bellini's haunting L'abbandono, Donizetti's boisterous "Me voglio fà 'na casa," Rossini's manic La danza, and his profound and moving A ma belle mère. Bartoli delivers the music with her characteristic gusto and full commitment, which, while it may not always result in technically immaculate performances, always packs a visceral punch. James Levine provides a chaste, subdued, and immaculate piano accompaniment. The sound is clear and clean, but seems just a little close.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
La danza. Tarantella Napolitana ("Già la luna è in mezzo al mare"), for voice & piano (Soirées musicales)