This exceptional film by Michael Sturminger leaves one in doubt as to the real "diva" of the show, Maria Malibran or Cecilia Bartoli? I certainly have no hesitation to opt for the latter; indeed Bartoli's concert of the 4th November 2007 at the Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona was not only an event of unimaginable beauty, but a rediscovery of Cecilia Bartoli herself, a divinely talented artist whose "assoluta dolcezza e umanita" stole the audience's heart even before she sang the first note.
The concert itself is a staggering experience of wondrous musicality which left me awed and speechless in the wake of Bartoli's fascinating "bravura" and I am more than certain that those who were in the "Palau" that day will always cherish her infectious outgoingness and mannerisms.
The documentary is an excellent piece of research which rouses the viewer's curiosity and keeps him/her on a knife edge till the very end. In it, Cecilia tracks the life of Malibran and the goldmine of music associated with this megastar of the Romantic era. She lived for just 26 years, but by the time of her demise, her fame as singer, composer and painter was unsurpassed. She was the public's deity, and the greatest musicians of her time all wrote pieces for her legendary voice. If you wish to reap all the rewards of this unique document, then you should start off with the documentary. In this sequence, your appreciation of the concert will be boundless. A five-star issue which should definitely not be missed.
Copyright © 2008 by Gerald Fenech