Cecilia revisits trans issues

Cecilia revisits trans issues


norman lebrecht

September 10, 2019

Bartoli has a thing about beards. Anywhere except on men.

New album:



  • Karl says:

    I thought Lang Lang had a bad album cover for the Beethoven 1st and 4th Concertos. But this one has got to be the worst of all time.

    • Brian says:

      Oh, there are others, Karl, believe me. The one with MTT and the parrot springs to mind. I think people had some fun on this website some years ago, trying to come up with some of the worst album covers.

      As for La Bartoli’s album, my first association was Conchita Wurst…

      • MWnyc says:

        Hadn’t thought of that, but yes, she looks like Conchita Wurst.

        When I first saw that image, it looked to me less like facial hair had been photoshopped onto her face than that the top of her face had been mixed with the bottom of David Daniels’s.

        And never mind the fact that castrati, by definition, had no facial hair.

    • Nik says:

      Damn! I wanted to be the first to mention Lang Lang.


      Unfortunately , there is always room for worse . Pity ,because she is a phenomenal singer

    • V.Lind says:

      God, yes. Revolting.

    • msc says:

      I’m not so sure about that. There are some pretty hideous ones at https://www.gramophone.co.uk/feature/the-record-covers-from-hell

    • MrsMahler says:

      What on earth is happening in the classical music world? All dumbing down, PC and anything to achieve sales! Bartoli can sing. Why this?

    • Monica says:

      What’s the matter, Karl, do you feel nervous and confused looking at it? Do you start to fear that you’ll be seduced by that unexpected mix of masculinity and femininity? Do you feel threatened? I seriously imagine you, one of the most misogynistic men on this comment board, all sweaty and short of breath, asking yourself why you can’t stop looking at that photo.

  • Gustavo says:

    It’s Wurst of all time!


    Long live Gayreuth!

  • Caravaggio says:

    There is horrible and then there is horrible.

  • Stuart says:

    This is from the marketing material: Cecilia Bartoli wanted to shine a light on the music behind one of the most famous names in opera and undress a few of the ideas surrounding sex and gender in historical performance. Her desire to present the mononymous artist in a contemporary setting is echoed in the album artwork, with Cecilia continuing to push boundaries by playing around with the presentation and perception of gender, “It is no coincidence that I can realise the idea [of exploring the art of great castrati] now, when discussions about the abuse of the bodily integrity of artists have become so topical… the phenomenon should be highlighted from different points of view, without neglecting the terrible historical context.”

    Scan it a few times – it is pure twaddle. By the way, searching through various portraits of Farinelli, I was unable to find any of them showing facial hair (does one exist?) That makes Bartoli’s album cover all the more odd.

    It is a terrible idea for an album cover. Competes with the old Westminister Records cover for Die Walkure showing a woman covering her naked front with a pair of VW hub caps…

    • V.Lind says:

      What has mononymy got to do with all this crap? No ambiguity or anything about Sting’s sexuality.

      And who gives a damn about her “ideas surrounding sex and gender in historical performance”? Just get on with the music and let everything else fall into place.

    • Mike Schachter says:

      Pure twaddle is charitable. Stupid ignorant attention seeking. Castrati were mutilated men who did regard themselves as men as not on the way t becoming women.

    • V.Lind says:

      What does mononymy have to do with any of this garbage? I don’t think there is any doubt about Sting’s sexuality. As for her curiosity about “ideas surrounding sex and gender in historical performance…” — could she for the love of God, her and everyone else involved in this theme-du-jour, keep their curiosity to themselves? It’s getting very tedious.

    • MWnyc says:

      Castrati — eunuchs — by definition do not have facial hair.

      I wouldn’t mind seeing the look on Bartoli’s face when someone explains that to her.

  • Ms.Melody says:

    Farinelli was castrated before the age of twelve to abort puberty and prevent voice change. The lack of testosterone would prevent development of secondary sexual characteristics such as facial and body hair growth.
    All known portraits show him with a smooth face.
    Also, according to what I read about Farinelli, he identified as a man,so had no “trans” issues.
    He definitely would not sport a thick beard that Cecilia shows.
    So, the cover is historically wrong and rather hideous to look at. I hope the music is better than the visuals

    • Olassus says:

      … to help control the exploding population of Naples actually, which was why the kids were being “conserved” by the civic and church authorities in the first place. The vocal effect was a side effect.

  • Caranome says:

    What the hell is she’s thinking? Does she/Decca think this is a way to be hip and “accessible”–I hate that word and concept re: classical music–to “capitalize” on this ridiculous transgender/gender neutral/questioning fad that’s blowing thru Western culture, and therefore increase sales and audience in the future? It’s absolute nonsense to cater to 0.01% of the population who want to shove their physiological/psychological problems on the rest of us to accept them as normal people.

  • Shadow says:

    The next time you see Baba, you shall pay!

  • Dee Schöne-Schwulerin says:

    Headed to the next EuroVision competition, featuring a Conchita Wurst career retrospective. Classical crossover does drag. Wunderschön!

  • MusicBear88 says:

    Farinelli and the other castrati wouldn’t have been able to grow beards, certainly not full ones like that, because of a lack of testosterone, the same thing that preserved their boy’s-register voices. So it makes even less sense!

  • David A, Boxwell says:

    Concheater Worst.

  • Cantantelirico says:

    Carlo Maria Michelangelo Nicola Broschi was an Italian castrato. He would be incapable of growing facial hair like this after his mutilation.

  • Robert Roy says:

    Sorry Cecilia, I’ve loved your singing for many years but this cover is a definite NO!

  • Minnesota says:

    Lord have mercy….

  • Farinelli with a beard. That’s rich.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    The only thing missing is a dog licking her face – one of the most revolting images you’ll ever see of a human being. A dog’s tongue is like the toilet cleaning brushes we use!!

    • Cassandra says:

      Wasn’t going to enter into this debate, makes me itch all over.
      Relieved it’s the men who in general wear the beards, for they are nice to look at.

      But when my fellow dog is put upon, I feel I have to step in.

      A dog’s saliva contains around 600 different types of microbes.
      Whereas humans have around 615 types, again different from those of dogs.
      (Harvard sci.res.)

      So you are actually closer to your toilet brush yourself, than the dog is. Especially if it’s your own brush.

      To whom the dog belongs is of little matter, except to the dog itself.

  • Enquiring Mind says:

    Looks like Farruquito

  • sam says:

    If you wants to be bold, Cecilia, instead of covering your chest with your arms, cover it with hair and bare it all.

    BTW, it makes no sense for castralti to have beards. Their testicles were severed before they hit puberty.

  • stefan verbeek says:


  • Caravaggio says:

    Conchita Worse-than-Most

  • Brian says:

    As they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. She’ll probably get a few more people to listen as a result of this cover, if only out of morbid curiosity.

  • Marj says:

    Oh, spare me!!

  • sycorax says:

    One word: Idiotic.

  • Charles says:

    I do not understand the headline. Why would you identify a woman dressed in a beard as being related to being transgender?

  • Ms.Melody says:

    Listen to the selections from this album on YouTube.
    Her agility is still quite astonishing.

  • HugoPreuss says:

    42 comments on a CD cover. So far. Congratulations everyone. Apparently, the CD will be out in early November. Perhaps someone then would care to discuss the music.

  • Raivis says:

    Bravo, Cecilia and the staff behing the conceptual picture! Very brave, proper and topical.