April 6, 2017

This year marks the 450th anniversary of the birth of Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643), long recognized as the father of opera. To celebrate this musical milestone, on Monday (April 10), Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the Monteverdi Choir, and the English Baroque Soloists embark on an ambitious, seven-month international tour, presenting concert performances of all three of the Venetian master’s surviving operas – L’Orfeo, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, and L’incoronazione di Poppea – in the UK, Germany, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, and the USA. The tour concludes this fall with complete operatic trilogies at Chicago’s Harris Theater (Oct 12–15) and New York’s Alice Tully Hall (Oct 18–21), in both of which venues celebrated American countertenor Reginald Mobley will sing Poppea’s Arnalta and Venere. After launching in Aix-en-Provence, where Gardiner – the winner of more Gramophone Awards than any other living artist – leads Ulisse for the first time in his distinguished career, additional European tour highlights include complete trilogies at the Salzburg Festival, Musikfest Berlin, Lucerne Festival, Edinburgh Festival, and Venice’s La Fenice, as well as in Bristol and Paris. In honor of the anniversary, Gardiner graces the cover of this month’s BBC Music; as the magazine blogs, this is “an exciting 2017, not just for music-lovers, but for Gardiner, … who continues to stretch the boundaries of early music.”

Over the centuries since their creation, Monteverdi’s operas have lost none of their power. Gardiner explains:

“The full unchanging gamut of human emotions – bewildering, passionate, uncomfortable and sometimes uncontrollable – form the subtext of all of Monteverdi’s surviving musical dramas. More often than not, he shows a deep empathy for his characters – including the less salubrious ones – just as his contemporary Shakespeare does. Both reveled in juxtaposing tragedy with lowlife comedy. Both men lived on the cusp of exciting, and dangerous, cultural worlds.

“By performing the trilogy in consecutive performances we hope to take audiences on a voyage – from the pastoral world to the court and the city, from myth to political history, from innocence to corruption, from a portrait of man subject to the whim of the gods, to a hero imprisoned by his human condition, and finally to a dual portrait of mad lovers, uncontrolled in their ambition and lust. Who is the true victor in the end? Perhaps the music.”

Although the conductor has yet to tackle Ulisse, he, the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists have already made definitive Deutsche Grammophon recordings of both other operas. Starring Sylvia McNair, Anne Sofie von Otter, and Michael Chance, their 1996 Poppea was chosen for inclusion in the Penguin Guide to the 1,000 Finest Classical Recordings, while their 1987 L’Orfeo, with Anthony Rolfe Johnson and Anne Sofie von Otter, “is regarded as a benchmark achievement” (Guardian). More recently, Gardiner and the ensembles won similar accolades for L’Orfeo in live performance. In 2015, their rendition at DC’s Kennedy Center was hailed as “a wholly involving evening of drama and music at the highest level” (Washington Post), and at London’s BBC Proms, the Telegraph critic reported: “[Gardiner’s] mastery seems effortless. … A capacity audience was clearly enthralled, as I was.”

To prepare for their upcoming tour, Gardiner and his forces undertook an intensive weeklong workshop, or “Accademia Monteverdiana,” in Venice’s glorious Fondazione Giorgio Cini, where they were joined by a number of leading Monteverdi scholars. Several of these academics are continuing to work with the musicians over the course of the anniversary year, which also sees the ensembles head to Cremona and St Denis, France, to reprise Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, the choral masterpiece for which Gardiner first founded the Monteverdi Choir more than half a century ago.

Details of the singers, academics, and tour dates are provided below, and high-resolution photos may be downloaded here.

www.monteverdi.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/monteverdichoirandorchestras
https://twitter.com/mco_london
https://www.instagram.com/monteverdi_choir_orchestras/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBYbc4_3QJ9YEhXJtCTVO0A

John Eliot Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir & English Baroque Soloists present

Monteverdi at 450: International tour, April–Oct 2017

Surviving operas of Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643)

  • L’Orfeo (1607)
  • Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (1639-40)
  • L’incoronazione di Poppea (1642-43)

Singers:
Krystian Adam
Francesca Biliotti
Hana Blažíková
Francesca Boncompagni
Gianluca Buratto
Robert Burt
Michal Czerniawski
Anna Dennis
Francisco Fernández-Rueda
Silvia Frigato
Kangmin Justin Kim
Marianna Pizzolato
Lucile Richardot
Gareth Treseder
Carlo Vistoli
John Taylor Ward
Zachary Wilder
Furio Zanasi

Academics:
Rodolfo Baroncini, Conservatorio di Adria
Lorenzo Bianconi, University of Bologna
Tim Carter, University of North Carolina
Davide Daolmi, University of Milan
Paolo Fabbri, University of Ferrara
Iain Fenlon, King’s College Cambridge
Carlo Lanfossi, University of Pennsylvania

Tour dates:
April 10
Aix-en-Provence, France
Grand Théâtre
Monteverdi: Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (1640)

April 12
Bristol, England
Colston Hall
Monteverdi: Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (1640)

May 3
Barcelona, Spain
Palau de la Música
Monteverdi: Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (1640)

May 8
Bristol, England
Colston Hall
Monteverdi: L’incoronazione di Poppea (1642)

May 28
Bristol, England
Colston Hall
Monteverdi: L’Orfeo (1607)

June 16
Venice, Italy
La Fenice
Monteverdi: L’Orfeo (1607)

June 17 & 20
Venice, Italy
La Fenice
Monteverdi: Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (1640)

June 18 & 21
Venice, Italy
La Fenice
Monteverdi: L’incoronazione di Poppea (1642)

June 24
Cremona, Italy
Cattedrale di Cremona
Monteverdi: Vespers of 1610

June 27
St Denis, France
Basilique de St Denis
Monteverdi: Vespers of 1610

July 26
Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg Festival
Monteverdi: L’Orfeo (1607)

July 28
Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg Festival
Monteverdi: Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (1640)

July 29
Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg Festival
Monteverdi: L’incoronazione di Poppea (1642)

Aug 14
Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh Festival
Monteverdi: L’Orfeo (1607)

Aug 15
Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh Festival
Monteverdi: Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (1640)

Aug 17
Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh Festival
Monteverdi: L’incoronazione di Poppea (1642)

Aug 22
Lucerne, Switzerland
Lucerne Festival
Monteverdi: L’Orfeo (1607)

Aug 25
Lucerne, Switzerland
Lucerne Festival
Monteverdi: Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (1640)

Aug 26
Lucerne, Switzerland
Lucerne Festival
Monteverdi: L’incoronazione di Poppea (1642)

Sep 2
Berlin, Germany
Musikfest Berlin
Monteverdi: L’Orfeo (1607) 

Sep 3
Berlin, Germany
Musikfest Berlin
Monteverdi: Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (1640)

Sep 5
Berlin, Germany
Musikfest Berlin
Monteverdi: L’incoronazione di Poppea (1642)

Sep 7 & 8
Wrocław, Poland
International Festival Wratislavia Cantans
Monteverdi: Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (1640)

Sep 16
Paris, France
Philharmonie
Monteverdi: L’Orfeo (1607)

Sep 17
Paris, France
Philharmonie
Monteverdi: Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (1640)

Sep 18
Paris, France
Philharmonie
Monteverdi: L’incoronazione di Poppea (1642)

Oct 12
Chicago, USA
Harris Theater
Monteverdi: L’Orfeo (1607)

Oct 13
Chicago, USA
Harris Theater
Monteverdi: Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (1640)

Oct 15
Chicago, USA
Harris Theater
Monteverdi: L’incoronazione di Poppea (1642)

Oct 18
New York, USA
Alice Tully Hall
Monteverdi: L’Orfeo (1607)

Oct 19
New York, USA
Alice Tully Hall
Monteverdi: Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (1640)

Oct 21
New York, USA
Alice Tully Hall
Monteverdi: L’incoronazione di Poppea (1642)

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© 21C Media Group, April 2017