My cable is still out, so I was watching the Rossini bicentennial celebration concert from 1992. Chris Merrit and Rockwell Blake put on some pretty spectacular Rossini tenor work.
I have always loved Marilyn Horne. She sang, quite beautifully, "Mura felice" from La Donna del Lago and "Di tanti palpiti" from Tancredi. Four years before that a 22 year old Cecilia Bartoli recorded these same two arias. She is at her most mezzo on that recording and does repertoire on the low end of her range. She does Isabella's arias, for instance.
Marilyn is creating an achievement, and Cecilia is creating a song. Cecilia has always the problem that she started out at the top, above the top, really, producing recordings at a phenomenally young age that are simply miracles of phrasing and beauty. Her own personal rubato is present in every note.
I love you, Marilyn, but you can't compete. With Cecilia you simply forget how difficult this all is. It's just beautiful singing.