Cecilia Bartoli

Léonie Sonning Prize 2010

The Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli received the Léonie Sonning Music Prize during a concert at the Tivoli Concert Hall on 16 June 2010. She was accompanied by the period instrument baroque orchestra La Scintilla from Zurich. The prize concert was attended by Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik.

The prize was presented by the editor Esben Tange, a member of the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation’s board.


The Léonie Sonning Music Prize 2010 is awarded to the mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli, one of the greatest and most fascinating female singers the world has ever seen. Her technical brilliance is unsurpassed and her focus on overlooked repertoire is admirable. Bartoli is unique in her theatrical charisma, creative energy and her sensuous vocal power that touches every listener. 

Hear the speech here

The programme

Nicolò Porpora Sinfonia from Meride e Selinunte (1726)
Nicolò Porpora Come nave. Aria from Siface (1725)
Riccardo Broschi Chi non sente al mio dolore. Aria from Merope (1732)
Nicolò Porpora Overture to Germanico in Germania (1732)
Francesco M. Veracini Overture no. 6
Leonardo Vinci Cervo in bosco. Aria from Medo (1728)
Leonardo Leo Qual farfalle. Aria from Zenobia in Palmira (1725)
Francesco Araia Cadrò, ma qual si mira. Aria from Berenice (1734)


Nicolò Porpora Usignolo sventurato. Aria from Siface (1725)
Carl Heinrich Graun Misero pargoletto. Aria from Demofoonte (1746)
Alessandro Scarlatti Sinfonia di concerto grosso no. 5
Antonio Caldara Quel buen pastor. Aria from Componimento Sacro La morte d’Abel (1732)
Nicolò Porpora Overtures from Gedeone and Perdono, amata Nice (1746)
Leonardo Vinci Quanto invidio la sorte … Chi vive amante
Recitative and aria from Allesandro nell’ Indie (1730)
Nicolò Porpora Nobil onda. Aria from Adelaide (1723)

Cecilia Bartoli, mezzo-soprano
Orchestra La Scintilla, Zürich

Cecilia Bartoli in Denmark

Cecilia Bartoli performed for the first time in Denmark at a concert with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra at the Tivoli Concert Hall in 1996. In 2009 she gave concerts in both Aarhus and Copenhagen, in connection with which it was announced that she would receive the Sonning Prize the following year. On 15 June 2010, the day before the prize concert, Bartoli gave a master-class at the Royal Danish Academy of Music with three young singers: Johannes Held, Julie Kold Vilstrup and Sophie Thing Simonsen, all accompanied by the pianist Ulrich Stærk. Bartoli has since performed several times in Denmark.

The daily press wrote, among other things:

She stormed the stage, dressed a something resembling a nobleman of 250 years ago: black, knee-length boots, black trousers and a vest, white shirt with ruffs and a big cloak of blood read fluttering around her. And with a flourish she pulled of her hat. Bang! La Bartoli had landed.

(Jakob Wivel, Børsen)

She holds the hall in an iron grip with the gentlest, sweetest music while at the same time, every bit the diva, fires of incredible vocal fireworks by the old Italian composers such as Nicola Porpora and Antonio Caldara. The wickedly fast, insanely accurate runs of notes explode like multi-coloured rockets over the heads of the audience in the packed Tivoli Concert Hall, where even standing places have been sold. Not only does the Roman mezzo sing with musicality, richness of colour, and a precision that leaves others in a cloud of dust even in the wildest of musical hairpin bends, she does so with a charisma that comes from a rare ability to delve one-hundred percent into whatever role she is singing.

(Thomas Michelsen, Politiken, 18 June 2010)

These forgotten arias by Nicola Porpora, Leonardo Leo, Francesco Araia and others are largely curiosities, but when brought to life in this unique manner, they twinkly and sparkle like pure cold. One might complain that this abundance of sweet riches and of bravura, jubilant coloratura, trills and scales was overkill on the ear. And yet, one constantly heard something new, a supremely accomplished detail, a virtuoso passage freely and cheekily phrased with unbridled lust. Sensuality and seduction, uncanny breath control and exemplary rhetorical treatment of the mother tongue were a given. Where Bartoli came closest to the castrati’s magic sound was in the simple, slow arias, in which she forced the fine Swiss orchestra to play as if they were under the floorboards and appeared to hover like a butterfly in the air. With this hypnotic lesson in pianissimo, Bartoli held the hall in an enraptured, intoxicated embrace – even those at the back who could probably hear nothing. Time stood still, the air trembled softly with breathless excitement.

(Valdemar Lønsted, Information, 18 June 2010)

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