At the Opéra de Lyon, more than 20 years ago (in May 1998 to be exact) two future stars were taking to the stage in a rare production of Mozart’s early work, Mitridate. In this opera seria, Natalie Dessay and Cecilia Bartoli – for it was they – delivered a veritable vocal fireworks display, a series of the craziest vocal exploits, which triggered rapturous applause from the audience. This day holds the strongest memory of “colouratura” for your writer, other examples of which you will find in this playlist.
“Colouratura” from the Latin colorare (to decorate) was born in the late sixteenth century, and in addition to sung vocalisation includes, in a broad sense, vocal virtuosity (trills, quilted notes, etc.). It reached its peak in the eighteenth century, with the reign of the castrati.
This playlist opens with one of the most famous tunes from 1730 by the castrato, Farinelli, and closes with an aria of madness from Lucia di Lammermoor sung by Mado Robin. It offers you an overview of all forms of “coloratura”, from soprano to bass. You will hear artists as diverse as Joan Sutherland, Sandrine Piau, Juan Diego Florez, Ezio Pinza, Rockwell Blake, Marilyn Horne and Sabine Devieilhe.