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Cecilia Bartoli gets booed off at La Scala

She hadn’t sung there for 19 years – and last night she discovered why.

The regular cliques and claques gave vent to their feelings and, while there was loud applause for her Mozart and Rossini arias, there were also plenty of boos. Daiel Barenboim, the music director, is said to be furious but there’s not much he can do. That’s Scala for you.

Here’s the first report in Corriere della Serra.

And further report here, with picture, on Gramilano.


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  1. I mean, what exactly is the point? Can one enlighten? If we as artists work all our lives to perfect this art form, the least we can ask for is respect.

    • One should respect the artists who try to give their best indeed. however Ms Bartoli might provoke with her mannerism the often extremely knowledgable people from the loggione. Just imagine Ms.Bartoli who has engaged herself for the title role in Bellini’s NORMA at the Salzburg Whitsun Festival in 2013….let’s hope the Belcanto freaks do not rent a bust an go there (prices outrageous) and disturb the boring visitors form the Festival who most probably have never heard this opera ever. Nevertheless since Caballe and Scotto there was no one who sang the role impressively not to speak about La Divina, Maria Callas, who actually owned this role like so many others. Salzburg applauded Edita Gruberova in that role a few years ago who could never sing that at la Scala either as she would get booed off at La Scala too. Even Anna Netrebko changed her Scala debut last year from Lucia to Dona Anna (very wise), in a fabulous production of Robert Carsen (who was supposed to direct Norma at Whitsun but apparently did not please the Ms Bartoli ??) but boringly conducted by Maestro Barenboim (like in Salzburg during the Mortier area when the fabulous production of Patrice Chereau was suffering by the Maestro’s slow and boring baton also). Viva La Scala, let’s hope for Lohengrin opening on December 7th with a stellar cast of Kaufmann/Harteros/Pape/Herlitzius. That sounds like a promising evening and should please the loggionis. Just imagine Christian Thielemann would lead the orchestra???

      • No one has mentioned the underlying reasons for the resentment stirred up by Bartoli in Milan: 1. not there for 19 years 2. lives in Switzerland 3. married to a Swiss 4. critical of Italian cultural politics and not the least 4. critical of Berlusconi!!

  2. Victoria Clarke says:

    Can they send them Kaff next time?

  3. The crowd at La Scala is known for being brutal. Artists know this & should perform if they can’t handle it. Did she have vocal problems with the arias she got booed for, was there some justification? Frankly here in Los Angeles it seems every artist gets an instant standing ovation at the end, which I don’t think is always justified.

  4. Michael Varcoe-Cocks says:

    The Corriere della Sera report says the Handel and Mozart (exultate jubilate) in the first part were well received, but the boos started when she sang Rossini. “Go home” “Poor Rossini” “Shame, in this time of crisis…” (apparently a reference to her “not moderate” fee) are quoted in the article.

    The reaction may have been harsh – not a first at La Scala! – but I have always been astonished how none of her friends or advisers have ever told her hyper-mannered manipulation of one the the greatest voices ever was completely unnecessary.

    • A reference to her “not moderate fee”? Why complain about her fee while sitting in the audience watching her performance? This makes no sense to me. If you don’t like her fee, don’t pay it and don’t attend her performance. (I don’t know anything about the voice aspect).

  5. if you don’t like a singer, don’t go to their concerts!?! Hello?
    Try spending most of your life in a practice room …
    this is not the issue. The issue is the cowardly minds of a few (as is ever the case at Scala) destroying the experience of others and walking all over the artists.
    And to those who argue, the very criticism of this sort helps to uphold highest levels of artistry, how dare you.
    Oh, how countless generations have had this discussion before.

  6. Descendants of the same crowd who booed Callas now whistle at the worthy successor of Cossotto and Horne – vergogna!!!

    • Bartoli a worthy successor to Cossotto and Horne?! What do you hear? At a gala at Covent Garden some years ago, Bartoli could hardly be heard in her Cenerentola party piece. She was then followed by Grace Bumbry with a voice ten times the size – a real operatic voice! Bartoli could never sing Azucena, Amneris, Ulrica, Eboli – how can you make such comparisons?

      • What’s your problem? Such clean coloratura from mezzos hasn’t been heard since Horne, not to mention those luscious low notes. A sparkling, musically astute “Non più mesta”:
        OK, not as a dramatic voice as Cossotto and she sure knows how to preserve it by not forcing.
        “Mickey Mouse voice” what nerve to say that!!!

  7. ever heard the lady ‘live’? It’s a mickey mouse voice and the volume just isn’t enuff for a house as la scala, so successor of cossotto? Plz do your homework. She’s sort of the Battle mezzo version and a voice kissed by the mikes…..but I admit a wonderful timbre spoiled by gimmicks

  8. james brinton says:

    The Scala crown deserves nothing better than a Finnish Death Metal Band.

  9. As a person who was not at the performance in question but has indeed “heard the lady live” several times (most recently about two years ago), with no mikes in the vicinity, i can agree with Fred that her voice is not large, but in my opinion it is very expressive, her control is superb, her technique is outstanding, her intonation is usually impeccable and her musicianship is outstanding. For me, she is one of the finest classical musicians performing during the last two decades.

  10. I agree completely with MarK and James. There are more details emerging about this incident and it sounds like it didn’t actually have much to do with the quality of her performance.

    Disapproval of her high fees during a crisis, pre-arranged booing groups, and people who knew before they entered the theater that they would boo are a few of the points this report in English makes:

    • So they were actually an organized group of protesters. Despicable. If some people are able and willing to pay her fees – let them do so. This reminds me of people who hate the British Royal Family, except the BRF have police protection and guards surrounding them at all times.

  11. Are her fees out of line with others? I didn’t think so, at least not in places like the Barbican.

  12. This type of emotional reaction would seem to be limited to Italian composers.

  13. Ichtrinkkeinwein says:

    When people boo, there is not much you can do.

    But when someone shouts “torna a casa!” — or any other specific line — you have a Golden Opportunity to stop the show, ask the person to identify himself, and invite him kindly down from the Galleria to the stage.

    Cecilia and Barenboim have the balls and the theatrical sang froid — individually, let alone in combination with each other — to have pulled that off beautifully.

    And what a great preventative it would have been.

  14. I think booing like that is not only cruel, but stupid and childish. If you don’t like her singing and think her fees are too high, walk out of the theater- and don’t buy tickets in the first place.

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