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Friday, December 26, 2014

André Jute Guest Post
PLUS a giveaway

Today, André Jute returns to Cookie's Book Club with a special guest post and a giveaway. 

Following André's post, enter to win one of five prize packs featuring Festival, IDITAROD a Novel of the Greatest Race on Earth, and a collection of books one through three in the Cold War, Hot Passions series.

Plus, enter to win more books in the Cookie's Book Club Annual Christmas Giveaway, on now!

One of the special privileges that comes with being a writer is meeting so many truly interesting people. Here I’m eating chocolate with Cecilia Bartoli, the greatest living singer.

“Salieri never poisoned Mozart!” — Cecilia Bartoli
The André Jute Interview

“In Switzerland the temptation of chocolate—the best in the world!—is very close. But I have disciplined myself to wait until after the concert.” Mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli is the greatest diva of them all, the female equivalent of all Three Tenors together, the top-selling and most famous classical performer in the world. And the best, in the opinion of many critics.

“The moment I discovered Salieri—the quality of his music, the emotion, so much to say!—I wanted to perform it. The way he composed—the beautiful wind section, the fascinating string section, the obliggati!—is definitely of a very high quality. Salieri convinced me through his music.” She is defined by her enthusiasm and deep knowledge as much as by her towering talent.

“With Salieri it is a very strange situation, because everyone thinks he murdered Mozart, with whom he for instance shared the librettist Lorenzo da Ponte. But no one knows Salieri’s music! Salieri’s operas have fantastic characters, so full of emotion, even melodrama. Opera buffe! Of course Salieri didn’t murder Mozart. Schaeffer’s Salieri in the play and the film Amadeus is interesting but total fiction. In fact, after Mozart’s death, Constanza sent her son to Salieri for lessons.”

 “Oh, I have a Roman temperament for sure, definitely a bit of fire!” But I’m deprived of a demonstration. She simply doesn’t behave like the Hollywood stereotype of a diva. (Or like too many wretchedly self-important here-today-gone-tomorrow pop “stars”.) Bartoli answers her own phone. One has a conversation with her, instead of being on the receiving end of a monologue. She pushes no predigested politically correct buttons. When interrupted or corrected on a statement of fact, she listens carefully and makes a reasoned argument. She is a warmly agreeable woman who just happens to be inordinately talented and justly renowned for her skill and commitment  to her art. She would fit easily into anyone’s corner pub.

Two hundred years later Bartoli the singer is the song, in the words of Giovanni de Gamerra which Salieri set:  Faithful and loving,/ Well-mannered,/ Neither clumsy nor foolish,/ Neither coarse nor rude,/ But friendly and polite,/ Rich, elegant and handsome,/ And with a good brain,/ Rare enough nowadays.

Perhaps her rocketing elevation to a dominant position in her profession, eight years from debut to superstardom in the standard repertoire of both recital and opera, and latterly in Baroque music, accounts for her sweet temperament. Her parents were both professional singers. “From my parents I learned fantastic things. I went to the opera since I was five years old and we had many, many records.” Her quick mind skips by association to a question I asked earlier, about whom she admires. “The ideal singer is a kind of monster.” This is the single instance of her English letting her down. She means a magpie, a gatherer of gems from others. “Conchita Supervia, from early in the 20th century: I admire her personality, and her phrasing. Tito Schipa is another.” Her acute sensitivity extends to other instruments beside the voice. “And some pianists. Rudolf Serkin sings with his piano.”

Of course we return to food. “Turkish cuisine!” Can she cook? Of course she can, but she says modestly, “I’d better leave that answer to my grandmother.” Encouraged by her warmth, I ask an impertinent question. “I have to diet occasionally,” she admits with a melodramatic tinge of sadness one is intended to admire for its sly wit. “Fortunately we Mediterranean Italians cook with olive oil rather than fat. But temptation is always around us.” Chocolate hour is happy hour.

“Yes, there is a price for being an artist. You pay a little bit in your private life. You have to discover what you can afford for your art. I am a very private person. It is important to protect privacy as much as possible.” Self-pity holds no attraction for her, unless it relates to music: “The moment you discover a composer like Salieri, or even Vivaldi’s operas, you encounter resistance.”

“Whoa!” I say. “If I put any more about Salieri in the article, your photograph will be reduced to the size of a postage stamp.” But she is not vain. Her passion overwhelms such mundanity. Eating Swiss chocolate with Cecilia Bartoli is a more life-enhancing experience than one’s physician will ever believe: joy with with added glee.

By courtesy of the Irish Examiner. Copyright © Andre Jute

About André Jute

André Jute was educated in Australia, South Africa and the United States. He has been an intelligence officer, racing driver, advertising executive, management consultant, performing arts critic and professional gambler. His hobbies include old Bentleys, classical music (on which he writes a syndicated weekly column), cycling, hill walking, cooking and wine. He designs and builds his own tube (valve) audio amplifiers. He is married to Rosalind Pain-Hayman and they have a son. They live on a hill over a salmon river in County Cork, Eire. There are over three hundred editions of his books in English and a dozen other languages.

More about Andre at CoolMain Press
Andre on Facebook 
Andre on Twitter  
André’s Blog 

Get Andre’s books at: 
Smashwords (all formats incl. Kindle)  

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Enter the Giveaway

Complete the Rafflecopter Entry form below. There are four ways to earn entries in the giveaway. Enter once, or enter up to four times. You may tweet about the giveaway daily for extra chances to win. The contest runs from December 26 through December 31.

The winners will be selected randomly once the contest has closed. Please be sure to include your email address so that we may contact you if you have won. We do not store email addresses for future use and we do not share them. 

Prizes will also be selected randomly, however, if you have a preference, please indicate it in a comment below, and we will do our best to accommodate it. Good luck!

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Enter below to win one of five prize packs featuring FestivalIDITAROD a Novel of the Greatest Race on Earth, and a collection of books one through three in the Cold War, Hot Passions series.

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Andre Jute said...

Out of all the thousands of people I interviewed in the arts, Cecilia Bartoli is my favorite. I like chocolate!

A pleasure being here, Sue, with you and your friends.

Cookie’s Mom said...

Thanks for dropping by, Andre. You're welcome anytime.

justwin4once said...

Turkish food and chocolate!!! and a opera singer???? Great interview and I can't wait to read the books.

Andre Jute said...

Ah, Katherine, if only I could find a publisher who would let me write a book about food and opera! But such paragons of virtue, alas, don't exist in our mercenary age. I think you'll enjoy the books, though.

Cookie’s Mom said...

Thank-you to all who entered the giveaway. Andre Jute and his publisher CoolMain Press have generously agreed to offer book packages to everyone who entered the contest. Congratulations to Renee, Richard, Katherine, Olivia, Crystal, Mical and Nicole! I will be emailing you your copies of Andre's books shortly.

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