Hear Bartoli talk with NPR's Scott Simon on Weekend edition Saturday
Uli Weber / Decca
Sacrificium, is an homage to the virtuosic castrato singers of the 18th centuiry.
Cecilia Bartoli's new album,
Cecilia Bartoli's new album, Sacrificium, is an homage to the virtuosic castrato singers of the 18th centuiry. Uli Weber / Decca
Opera singer Cecilia Bartoli is a restless artist who's always looking for something fresh; she's always on the go. We tracked her down in Zurich, Switzerland, where she took time out from a tour to talk about her new album, Sacrificium, an homage to the castrato singers who ruled the world of opera like rock stars in the 18th century. The name "castrato" refers to the barbaric practice — mostly administered in Italy — of castrating prepubescent boys to prevent their voices from "breaking" so that they could retain a singing voice that soared in the high registers of sopranos.
As is her habit, Bartoli has unearthed rare music written for these virtuoso singers of the Baroque era. Most of the arias on the new disc have never been recorded before. Bartoli joined NPR Music's Tom Huizenga to answer questions from listeners in a live chat room and discuss the disturbingly sad story of the castrati — one that nevertheless spawned some of the most thrilling music in all of opera.