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13 August 2018 (Toronto, ON) - Renowned Mexican tenor Javier Camarena becomes the first artist to debut on Cecilia Bartoli’s new record label with his album Contrabandista, releasing on October 5 via Mentored By Bartoli/DECCA/Univesal Music Canada, the country’s leading music company . It marks the start of a brand new series called ‘Mentored by Bartoli’, a sub-label with Decca Classics which aims to support and oversee new recordings by exceptional artists.


Produced by the Cecilia Bartoli Music Foundation and released by Decca, Contrabandista is a concept album which delves deep into the life and music of legendary Spanish tenor, composer and impresario, Manuel García (1775-1832) – father of the great opera singer Maria Malibran, whose music was explored by Bartoli on her 2007 album, ‘Maria’. Camarena has recorded a collection of García’s works, including three world premiere recordings, alongside arias by Rossini and Zingarelli. He also teams up with Bartoli for a stunning duet from Rossini’s Armida. They are joined by period-instrument orchestra ‘Les Musiciens du Prince – Monaco’ and conductor Gianluca Capuano.


Camarena says, “I’m honoured to present my debut solo album on Decca Classics with Cecilia Bartoli. Working alongside her, whether on stage or in the studio, is always an artistically rewarding and inspiring experience. I am thrilled that with this project we are illuminating the life and music of this fascinating historical figure, Manuel García.”


Dr. Alexander Buhr, Managing Director of the Decca Classical Label Group, says, “We are very excited about this new joint venture between Decca and the Cecilia Bartoli Music Foundation. In our 30 years of collaboration, Cecilia Bartoli and Decca have created a substantial discography that has repeatedly set new standards in inventiveness, scholarly ambition, artistic quality and chart success. Cecilia is a trailblazer of classical recording and it’s great to work with her as she passes on that knowledge to a new generation of artists, beginning with the remarkable tenor Javier Camarena.”


Born a cobbler’s son in Seville in 1775, Manuel García’s rags-to-riches story captured the imagination of his contemporaries. He was a good-looking and rather roguish upstart, whose talent and charisma made him world-famous. As one of the most brilliant tenors of his time, he was instrumental in establishing Mozart and Rossini as pillars of the popular operatic repertoire. As a composer, he established Spanish opera as a separate genre and helped his native country’s music to penetrate European culture in general. And as theatre manager, he contributed to the cultivation of opera as an art form in America and Mexico. He was also passionate about giving singers a thorough music education and strong vocal technique. García’s daughter, Maria Malibran, went on to become one of the most famous opera singers of the 19th Century – and the subject of Cecilia Bartoli’s best-selling album, Maria.


Camarena’s new album takes the listener on a journey through García’s most fascinating works, including three arias recorded for the first time ever: ‘Cara gitana del alma mia’ from his opera El gitano por amor; ‘Vous dont l’image toujours chère’ from La Mort du Tasse; and ‘Ô ciel ! de ma juste furie comment réprimer le transport?’ from Florestan ou Le Conseil des dix. He also teams up with Cecilia Bartoli for the duet ‘Amor… (Possente nome!)’ from Rossini’s Armida, which appeared in García’s London concert programme in 1824.


One of García’s most famous works was El poeta calculista – an opera for one singer (García) about a poor poet who cannot make enough money to buy himself food. One of the highlights, ‘Yo que soy contrabandista’, became immensely popular in the 19th Century thanks to its catchy melody, Spanish rhythms and melismas. It even inspired such composers as Berlioz, Liszt and Bizet. The aria is recorded by Camarena and gives rise to his album title.


Contrabandista is a thrilling collection of songs which showcase Javier Camarena’s versatile voice and shine a light on a remarkable composer. It is a bold start to the ‘Mentored by Bartoli’ series and lays the foundation for an exciting future for the label and its extraordinary artists.




Javier Camarena is making his mark at opera houses around the world, earning his praise for his “infectious” voice (New Yorker) and “brightly eloquent” performances (LA Times). He is already considered the pre-eminent Mozart and bel canto specialist of his generation. In 2014, he became only the third tenor in history to be permitted to repeat arias at the Metropolitan Opera (the other two being Luciano Pavarotti and Juan Diego Flórez) when he encored Ramiro’s showstopper from Rossini’s La Cenerentola.


Equally celebrated for appearances at San Francisco Opera, LA Opera, London’s Royal Opera House, Opéra de Paris, Teatro Real Madrid, Dresden’s Semperoper, Vienna and Bavarian State Operas and Deutsche Oper Berlin, Camarena has collaborated with such great conductors as the late Claudio Abbado, Fabio Luisi, Zubin Mehta and Franz Welser-Möst, to name but a few. His concert activity includes recitals and gala performances in New York, Oviedo, Sevilla, Barcelona, Andorra, Dublin, Madrid, Las Palmas and Salzburg.


Contrabandista – Tracklisting:


  1. GARCÍA: Cara gitana del alma mia (El gitano por amor)*
  2. GARCÍA: Yo que soy contrabandista (El poeta calculista)
  3. ROSSINI: Sì, ritrovarla io giuro (La Cenerentola)
  4. GARCÍA: Vous dont l’image toujours chère (La Mort du Tasse)*
  5. ZINGARELLI: Là dai regni dell’ombre, e di morte (Giulietta e Romeo)
  6. ROSSINI: Amor… (Possente nome!) (Armida) Duet with CECILIA BARTOLI
  7. GARCÍA: Ô ciel ! de ma juste furie comment réprimer le transport? (Florestan ou Le Conseil des dix)*
  8. ROSSINI: Cessa di più resistere (Il barbiere di Siviglia)
  9. GARCÍA: Formaré mi plan con cuidado (El poeta calculista)
  10. ROSSINI: S’ella mi è ognor fedele … Qual sarà mai la gioia (Ricciardo e Zoraide)





CECILIA BARTOLI, mezzo-soprano

Les Musiciens du Prince — Monaco



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