The winner of the 2012 Karajan Music Prize is a mezzo

The winner of the 2012 Karajan Music Prize is a mezzo


norman lebrecht

February 16, 2012

Well, some might say he forced a lot of good sopranos’ voices down a register, but what did this one do to deserve 50,000 Euros?

The eyebrows of the year award goes to Cecilia Bartoli.

Here‘s the story.


  • She remains one of the MOST interesting voices around today. I still get goosebumps when I hear what Bartoli does.

  • Elaine Fine says:

    Why is it that men can look like Harnoncourt without comment, but when women like Bartoli, who use their bodies and faces as their instruments, get reduced to pieces of anatomy. Perhaps if you were to listen without watching judgementally you might understand. She has a tremendous vocal instrument, and she fills it with everything anyone would ever want in a singer. She has the ability to sing with the colors of a soprano as well as the deeper color of a mezzo. She can also apply her amazing vocal instrument to baroque performance practices without compromising anything.

    People used to make fun of the way Pauline Viardot looked too. I like to think that Bartoli is kind of like a 21st-century Viardot. She has the range (emotional as well as vocal), the brains, and what I understand to be the degree of musicianship that Viardot was reported to have had. Viardot was a mezzo too, even though she could sing comfortably up to high F..

    I really appreciated the chance to hear Bartoli speak, and to hear her speak in English. I had no idea she was such a sweet person.

  • Roy Lisker says:

    Tastes obviiously differ, because to me Cecilia Bartoli is one of the great voices of the century. She is not an “opera singer” in the usual sense, having opted for quality and taste over volume and histrionics.

  • richard says:

    some might say he forced a lot of good sopranos’ voices down a register….

    presumably they could have said no?

  • Istvan Horthy says:

    It seems absurd to me to award so much money to a very well-known and well-established star rather than to a young musician who perhaps has not even had the opportunity to make a recording.

    • Alex says:

      Well, may I translate from the news and give you some reasons for the prize:

      1.) Ms Bartolis’s permanent work on a high scientific and artistic level for forgotten music
      2. ) the strong support she lends with her popularity (10 000 000M Cds sold, 5 Grammys, 2 Brit Awards etc) to classical music (withour compromising and withour cross-over)
      3) Wiht t her own Cecilia Bartoli Music Forundation she supports young singers and tries to enlarge the operatic standard repertorie.

      BTW: The price has to be used entitrely for musical education – so it’s not meant to enrichen her breakfast.

  • Tamara Meinecke says:

    The big ending at around 4:30! She doesn’t hold back, does she?