The New York Times panned Cecilia.
Some people do not get Cecilia Bartoli. I have a dear friend who falls into this category. She simply does not want to be confronted by all those facial expressions. Another of my friends is patient not to offend my sensitivities, but prefers inward performers.
Cecilia is outward, involving, expressive, intellectual and intuitive at the same time.
Cecilia's career does not reflect the path of other performers. She is in our era the master of the recital / solo concert venue. She likes to have control, to make sure that the performance completely reflects her very highly developed conception.
Still, I wouldn't fly to Europe to see her in a concert. I have only done that for my first love, opera. I have gone three times to Zurich (Cenerentola, Orfeo, Julius Caesar) to see her in opera, and found it always well worth the trip. But then I don't have to--she brings all her concert / recital programs here. I admit that for me she doesn't do enough opera. While they are digging up old music, could they please dig up a whole opera.
I appear to be the only one who interpreted her movements as conducting. I thought she was moving her arms and shoulders to communicate with the musicians behind her.
She sees herself in a certain way and guides her career to reflect this inner vision. She even manages her own career. Whatever she is doing, it is completely on purpose. The critic basically doesn't like the fact that he isn't watching Pelleas and Melisande. How can one respond logically to this? She isn't giving you what you want. She's giving you what she wants and relying on her persuasive gifts to bring you to her opinion. You open your heart and accept it, or you don't. This is not any singer's relationship to the public that I can recall.
She creates an excitement around performing classical music that it desperately needs right now. She is altering our perceptions.