Carmen Consoli

L' Anfiteatroelabambinaimpertinente

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An ancient Greek amphitheater, an active volcano, the Mediterranean Sea, and an orchestra sound like a pretty amazing setting for a live album. These were in fact the arrangements for Carmen Consoli, whose L'Anfiteatroelabambinaimpertinente was recorded during two shows at the Teatro Greco in Taormina, Sicily, in July 2001. The material is all from previous releases, though she does include a great cover of "Amado Mio" -- and she's a much better singer than Rita Hayworth -- that fits perfectly with the lush acoustic feel of the album. The use of the orchestra highlights Consoli's Italian influences (as opposed to her American or British ones), which gives her music a kind of sentimental feel that works well, even when the songs are anything but romantic. Understandably, Consoli chooses pieces that lend themselves better to this type of interpretation, the ones that are pretty, simple, and naturally soft enough to allow for orchestral embellishment without overdramatizing or overpowering the force of the band and the singer herself, who is absolutely the star of the show. Her voice is even better live than it is in the studio: full of emotion, passion, and both fragility and strength as she makes her way through the 15-song play list. Consoli performs a few tracks using just an acoustic guitar or two ("Quattordici Luglio," "Confusa e Felice," and "In Funzione di Nessuna Logica"), but for the most part she and conductor Paolo Buonvino (who also composed the music for the film L'ultimo Bacio, which featured Consoli's song of the same name) utilize the orchestra's ability to its fullest potential and heighten the effect of the songs. Despite the relative gentleness of the album, there is no dearth of intensity here; instead, the subtle depth that comes from the orchestra gives her work an added measure of vitality. "Contessa Miseria," which closes the album, is a perfect example of this. The strings add an urgency to Consoli's already intense and expressive voice, and as the vocals end and the guitar fades, the orchestra continues on, finally smoothing out into a soft chord and the chant of "fuori" (the Italian equivalent of "encore") by the audience. It's a perfect way to end an excellent album, and proves Consoli's fantastic versatility and talent as a complete artist.

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