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History made as woman performs with the Sistine Chapel choir

by Eno Adeogun

Cecilia Bartoli joined the 20 men and 30 boys who make up the world's oldest choir of the Sistine Chapel in Rome as part of a unique musical project, which draws on the musical archives of the Catholic Church.

The five-time Grammy award singer told Classic FM: "Being the first woman to sing with the choir, and to record in the Sistine Chapel, is an immense privilege.

"I am at a loss for words. I am in seventh heaven, may I say that?"

The mezzo-soprano singer broke the 500 year-old tradition of only men performing below Michelangelo's ceiling and recorded music by the Renaissance composer Pérotin.

At a press conference at the Vatican, Georg Gänswein, prefect of the Papal Household, said: "This new production, focusing on the liturgical time of Christmas, is based on the unique characteristic of translating into sound the manuscripts present in the "Sistine Chapel" archive, a truly precious treasure chest."

Bartoli's voice is also included in the choir's 16 track Christmas CD, Veni Domine: Advent and Christmas at the Sistine Chapel, which was released worldwide this month.

Federico Capitoni, who is a music critic for La Repubblica said the inclusion of a woman in the choir was a "significant gesture of openness by the Vatican".

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