Cecilia Bartoli, the featured soloist, is pure musical gold.
Cecilia Bartoli, the featured soloist, is pure musical gold.


Cecilia Bartoli will perform tonight at the Emirates Palace as part of Abu Dhabi Classics. The mezzo-soprano's unrivalled vocal abilities, unfailing passion and unflappable showmanship make it a show not to miss. Those people who have been lucky enough to secure tickets for The Romantic Revolution, the Abu Dhabi Classics concert that takes place tonight at the Emirates Palace hotel, are in for a rare treat. For Cecilia Bartoli, the featured soloist, is pure musical gold. At 42, this unique Roman-born classical diva is at the peak of her career and there's no sign of any slowing down. She's sold more than six million discs, and her name guarantees a sell-out and a standing ovation in all the major concert halls and opera houses of the world.

Her astonishing vocal technique embraces both the soprano and mezzo-soprano range, allowing her to sing with an unrivalled speed, virtuosity and clarity. But she's never just a machine - her sparkling personality makes her an irresistible comedian on stage, and in the richly beautiful lower register of her voice, she can tug at the heart strings with a slow melancholy aria too. What makes her even more remarkable in a perfidious business is her consistency and loyalty. She has stuck with the same label (Decca) and producer (Christopher Raeburn) for 20 years, and has steadfastly concentrated on performing a narrow and almost purely Italian repertory of music written between 1750 and 1830. Other singers in her position would have doubled their money by singing crowd-pleasers such as Carmen or hit songs from the shows or a crossover duet with a big pop star. Not Bartoli - she may be a superb entertainer, but she is an artist first, and a puritanical one at that.

Backstage, there are no prima donna antics either. Bartoli is exceptionally strong-minded and has kept keen control over the marketing of her brand - her dimples are made of iron, it has been said - but she is still the uproariously funny, high-spirited and unaffected girl who burst on to the scene when she won an Italian television talent show called Fantastico in 1987. And although she is inevitably the centre of attention wherever she goes, she remains a considerate colleague, always prepared to muck in and do her bit.

Her mother Silvana, a former member of the chorus at the Rome Opera, taught her to sing and is said to remain her closest companion. Mamma Bartoli's influence on her daughter hasn't always pleased the critics, who have on occasion deplored Cecilia's flamboyant performing style and bizarre facial mannerisms. Her spontaneous sense of drama can propel her in the heat of the moment into a recklessness which sticklers for accuracy find disconcerting, and she's been accused of sacrificing beauty of tone for emotional effect. But she is adamant that she can only perform the way that her mother taught her and the way that she feels the music.

Bartoli doesn't like singing what everyone else sings, and she uses her drawing-power at the box office to introduce her audiences to the unfamiliar. The early years of her career were largely devoted to an exploration of the work of Rossini, which spread far beyond The Barber of Seville. Over past decade, much of her time has been devoted to the scholarly exhumation of forgotten vocal music by Vivaldi, Gluck, Salieri and Halevy.

Another passion has been the early 19th-century prima donna Maria Malibran, of whom she has accumulated an enormous collection of memorabilia. Malibran was by all reports a wild creature and a free spirit, who lived life in the fast lane and died tragically young. Bartoli clearly identifies with Malibran's Judy Garland tendency to go over the top, and her recent album of arias that Malibran sang has proved to be one of her most impassioned productions.

Yet for all her extravert exuberance on stage, Bartoli keeps her personal life well hidden from the press and public. She has been romantically connected with the Italian musicologist and vintner Claudio Osele and the Swiss baritone Oliver Widmer, but she has never been married or had children. Yet she isn't a musical monomaniac - she has been an energetic campaigner for neurological research since her beloved brother Gabriele died from a brain tumour in 1997, and she loves dancing flamenco and driving sports cars (in which she is said to sing her head off).

Bartoli has always kept her appearances strictly rationed - which is what makes tonight's concert so special , not least because she dislikes air travel and its desiccating effect on the vocal cords. This means that every one of her performances is an event to which she gives herself wholeheartedly. Nobody ever leaves a Bartoli concert feeling that they've been short-changed. How could they? The sheer joy her music-making communicates is something beyond price.

Rupert Christiansen is the opera critic of The Daily Telegraph. To order tickets for any Abu Dhabi Classics event call free on 800 4669 or visit www.timeouttickets.com.

Gulf rugby

Who’s won what so far in 2018/19

Western Clubs Champions League: Bahrain
Dubai Rugby Sevens: Dubai Hurricanes
West Asia Premiership: Bahrain

What’s left

UAE Conference

March 22, play-offs:
Dubai Hurricanes II v Al Ain Amblers, Jebel Ali Dragons II v Dubai Tigers

March 29, final

UAE Premiership

March 22, play-offs: 
Dubai Exiles v Jebel Ali Dragons, Abu Dhabi Harlequins v Dubai Hurricanes

March 29, final

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices


Director: Inas Halabi

Starring: Nijmeh Hamdan, Kamal Kayouf, Sheikh Najib Alou

Rating: 4/5

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE


Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Consoles: PC, PlayStation
Rating: 2/5

About Seez

Company name/date started: Seez, set up in September 2015 and the app was released in August 2017  

Founder/CEO name(s): Tarek Kabrit, co-founder and chief executive, and Andrew Kabrit, co-founder and chief operating officer

Based in: Dubai, with operations also in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon 

Sector:  Search engine for car buying, selling and leasing

Size: (employees/revenue): 11; undisclosed

Stage of funding: $1.8 million in seed funding; followed by another $1.5m bridge round - in the process of closing Series A 

Investors: Wamda Capital, B&Y and Phoenician Funds 

The specs

Engine: 6-cylinder, 4.8-litre
Transmission: 5-speed automatic and manual
Power: 280 brake horsepower
Torque: 451Nm
Price: from Dh153,00
On sale: now

The specs: 2018 Nissan Patrol Nismo

Price: base / as tested: Dh382,000

Engine: 5.6-litre V8

Gearbox: Seven-speed automatic

Power: 428hp @ 5,800rpm

Torque: 560Nm @ 3,600rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 12.7L / 100km


Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5


Bayer Leverkusen 2 Bayern Munich 4
 Alario (9'), Wirtz (89')
Bayern: Coman (27'), Goretzka (42'), Gnabry (45'), Lewandowski (66')

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.


Galaxy: Dos Santos (79', 88')
United: Rashford (2', 20'), Fellaini (26'), Mkhitaryan (67'), Martial (72')


Uefa Champions League semi-finals, first leg
Liverpool v Roma

When: April 24, 10.45pm kick-off (UAE)
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
Live: BeIN Sports HD
Second leg: May 2, Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Meydan race card

6.30pm: Maiden; Dh165,000; (Dirt) 1,200m
7.05pm: Handicap; Dh170,000; (D) 1,200m​​​​​​​
7.40pm: Maiden; Dh165,000; (D) 1,900m​​​​​​​
8.15pm: Handicap; Dh185,000; (D) 2,000m​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
8.50pm: Handicap; Dh185,000; (D) 1,600m​​​​​​​
9.25pm: Handicap; Dh165,000; (D) 2,000m

If you go

There are regular flights from Dubai to Addis Ababa with Ethiopian Airlines with return fares from Dh1,700. Nashulai Journeys offers tailormade and ready made trips in Africa while Tesfa Tours has a number of different community trekking tours throughout northern Ethiopia. The Ben Abeba Lodge has rooms from Dh228, and champions a programme of re-forestation in the surrounding area.

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets

Most Read
Top Videos