Table Talk with Opera Singer Cecilia Bartoli

© Kristian Schuller - Decca

TableTalk with Cecilia Bartoli

© Kristian Schuller - Decca

Falstaff: A first question for the great soprano: you are always there for your audience with your whole being. We have experienced this ourselves in concert. How do you manage that?
Cecilia Bartoli:
That is probably only due to my great passion! My love for music and my passion to share this love with the other artists on stage and of course with our audience.

Rome, Salzburg, the world. Are you a classic Italian in culinary terms? Or what do you love about the cuisines of the countries where you are also more or less "at home"?
Yes, I absolutely am. I grew up in this tradition and cook and eat predominantly Italian. But I am also curious. When I travel I really love to try the local specialities. I feel very much at home in Salzburg - and certain specialities, such as a freshly made Topfenstrudel (a strudel made with fresh curds), are irresistible to me. In Monte Carlo, where I will take over the directorship of the opera from 2023, I like to eat Mediterranean food - there's nothing like a very lightly prepared fresh fish.

Such a great artist and diva at the stove? Perfection on stage, improvisation in the kitchen?
Yes, why not? After all, I'm not on stage 24 hours a day. In fact, I love to cook and of course I prefer to be inspired by the fresh ingredients I can get at the local market on the same day.

What is your favourite thing to cook? 
I love cooking pasta alla Norma - a pasta with aubergine, tomatoes, basil and ricotta. The dish is named after the Bellini opera Norma. My tip: cook it with passion, fresh ingredients and accompanied by Bellini arias.

What is your favourite childhood dish? 
It's my mother's rigatoni all'amatriciana. This dish is a classic. It's quite easy to prepare and it has the right mix of guanciale (cured pork cheek from Lazio in central Italy), slight spiciness and fresh Italian tomatoes. I don't eat many sweets: I usually rely on fresh fruit - what could be better than a sun-ripened apricot or plum!

Do you have a gastronomic "strategy" for stage performances? 
It's important to eat very simple but sufficient carbohydrates for lunch. I don't eat anything directly before the performance, because a full stomach and a stage performance don't go together. When the performance is over, I'm hungry! It's always a special moment after the performance to end the evening in good company at the table.

Does a glass of wine go with that?
Yes, but in moderation. I find the winemaking process particularly fascinating. So much so that I have my own small vineyard where I can follow everything closely.

They say music is a language that everyone understands. You don't even have to know the alphabet to sing at the top of your lungs. Is food also a "language" for you that brings people together?
Of course! Food is a culture that has grown over centuries and has its own characteristics in every country, every region – even in every family. Food combines history, geography, traditions - and yes, eating together connects and unites people, similar to a concert, where the communal component is an important part of the experience.

Cecilia Bartoli

Cecilia Bartoli is a world-renowned mezzo-soprano and has been artistic director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival for many years. From 2023, she will be the opera director of the Opera Monte-Carlo.