Forbidden opera performed in Glasgow
On 21 May 2006, Cecilia Bartoli performs in Glasgow, UK, with a programme that bears the same title as her latest album: ‘Opera Proibito’ – which literally means “forbidden opera”
Cecilia Bartoli’s performance at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra deals with a period of prohibition in 18th-century Rome when the Vatican not only banned public performances of opera, but also the rights of women to perform.
This was the time that the young composer Handel arrived in Rome. According to Cecilia Bartoli, the reason for the ban on opera was little more than an overreaction by the Vatican to a part of Roman life it couldn’t control – namely the theatre, and the extravagant love intrigues that went with it.
“That was the real reason,” says Bartoli to Living.Scotsman.com. She researched the topic assiduously when compiling her new album. The reason that was officially given was in response to an earthquake that had claimed no victims. “To thank God, they banned opera and told people just to pray,” she adds.
But that was never going to stop the likes of Handel, and the many other fine musicians in Rome at the time, composing music that reflected the growing operatic fever of the high Baroque. They wrote, instead, operas disguised as oratorios, the sacred texts providing protection against censorship.
The realisation of Handel’s 18th-century presence in her native city led Bartoli to discover music by other fine composers who were operating under the Papal ban. She was drawn in particular to the “operas” of Alessandro Scarlatti and Antonio Caldara, and to their astonishing diversity of styles.
Living.Scotsman.com – 15 May 2006:
‘Bartoli reaps the fruits of the forbidden operas’