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30 November 2012, 15:50 | Updated: 3 December 2012, 11:43
On her latest album, Mission, the mezzo-soprano investigates the enigmatic life and music of a lesser-known Baroque composer, Agnostino Stefani - spy, bishop, and musical genius.
Cecilia Bartoli's latest musical offering, Mission, is full of musical mystery. If you haven't heard of the composer Agnostino Stefani, she says, his music is certainly worth discovering - and that's before delving into his intriguing private life.
In an interview with Anne-Marie Minhall, Cecilia uncovered a few unknown facts about the composer, whose beautiful Haydn-esque music is almost eclipsed by his personal circumstances. Despite being a Catholic priest, Stefani lived in the Protestant region of Germany. "Maybe he was a kind of spy," said Cecilia, who has embraced the Mission project so wholeheartedly that she has spent years researching the composer, and even dressed up as him on the album cover.
"It's definitely a cover with a sense of humour," she said. "I wanted to evoke a character, this bishop, who had this mission. I know this goes against the typical cliché of a classic diva, who has to be beautiful and glamorous all the time. This project has served much more than that - there's a story to tell, and great music to listen to."