Performance Friday, May 1, 2015 | 8 PM

English Baroque Soloists
The Monteverdi Choir

Monteverdi's L'Orfeo (opera in concert)

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists are undisputed masters of Baroque repertoire, particularly the dramatic and piercingly beautiful music of 17th-century composer Monteverdi. Gardiner and his ensemble perform Monteverdi’s groundbreaking opera L’Orfeo, a masterpiece that recounts the tale of the legendary musician Orpheus’s journey to Hades to reclaim his beloved Eurydice. Five-hundred years after its premiere, Monteverdi’s opera still has the power to move audiences.


  • English Baroque Soloists
  • The Monteverdi Choir
    Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Conductor
  • Francesca Aspromonte, Soprano
  • Francesca Boncompagni, Soprano
  • Esther Brazil, Soprano
  • Mariana Flores, Soprano
  • James Hall, Countertenor
  • John Lattimore, Countertenor
  • Krystian Adam, Tenor
  • Nicholas Mulroy, Tenor
  • Andrew Tortise, Tenor
  • Gareth Treseder, Tenor
  • Alex Ashworth, Baritone
  • Gianluca Buratto, Bass
  • David Shipley, Bass


  • MONTEVERDI L'Orfeo (concert performance)

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours with no intermission.


  • English Baroque Soloists 

    The English Baroque Soloists have long been established as one of the world's leading period-instrument orchestras. Throughout their repertoire, ranging from Monteverdi to Mozart and Haydn, they are equally at home in chamber, symphonic, and operatic performances.

    The English Baroque Soloists are regularly involved in joint projects with The Monteverdi Choir, with whom they famously took part in the trailblazing Bach Cantata Pilgrimage in 2000, performing all of Bach's sacred cantatas throughout Europe. More recently, the two ensembles joined forces in a "Bach Marathon" event at Royal Albert Hall (2013), and collaborated on recordings and tours of Bach motets (2011) and Ascension cantatas (2012).

    The ensemble has performed at many of the world's most prestigious venues, including Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and the Sydney Opera House. During the 1990s, it performed Mozart's seven mature operas, and recorded all of Mozart's mature symphonies and his complete piano concertos. Its recent recordings of the "Brandenburg" Concertos and Mozart's symphonies nos. 39 and 41 were released by The Monteverdi Choir's own record label, Soli Deo Gloria.

    In 2014, The Monteverdi Choir's 50th-anniversary year, the English Baroque Soloists performed with the choir in tours of Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine in Cambridge, Versailles, and Barcelona, and Handel's Dixit Dominus at several summer festivals.

    This year has already included performances in Munich, Frankfurt, Lucerne, and Paris of Bach's Mass in B Minor. Further projects in 2015 include performances at several major summer festivals as well as the orchestra's first Far East tour in more than a decade, with concerts in Hong Kong  and Shanghai.

    The English Baroque Soloists are under the patronage of HRH The Prince of Wales.

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  • The Monteverdi Choir

    The Monteverdi Choir, founded in 1964, is famous for its passionate, committed,
    and virtuosic singing. Over the past 50 years, it has been consistently acclaimed as one of the best choirs in the world, noted for its ability to switch composer, language, and idiom with complete stylistic conviction.

    Among a number of trailblazing tours, the choir's most ambitious was the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage in 2000, during which it performed all 198 of Bach's sacred cantatas in more than 60 churches throughout Europe to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the composer's death. The entire project was recorded and released by the company's own record label, Soli Deo Gloria.

    The choir is also a fertile training ground for future generations of choral and solo singers. Choir members often step out to sing solo parts, and many former members have gone on to enjoy successful solo careers. Since 2007, the Monteverdi Apprentices program has added an exciting new dimension to its profile.

    The choir has more than 150 recordings to its name and has won numerous prizes. It regularly participates in staged opera productions, including recently Le Freyschütz (Weber-Berlioz), L'étoile (Chabrier), and Carmen (Bizet) at the Opéra Comique in Paris.

    Last year, the choir celebrated its 50th anniversary with performances of Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine in Cambridge, Barcelona, and Versailles, as well as an extensive European and US tour of Handel's Dixit Dominus. It also collaborated with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in a performance of Schumann's Manfred under the direction of Sir John Eliot Gardiner and released an acclaimed new album of English polyphony entitled Vigilate!.

    Earlier in 2015, a tour featuring Bach's Mass in B Minor took the choir to Munich, Frankfurt, Lucerne, and Paris. Further projects this year include performances at several major summer festivals as well as the choir's first Far East tour in more than a decade, with concerts in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

    The Monteverdi Choir is under the patronage of HRH The Prince of Wales.

    Sir John Eliot Gardiner 

    Sir John Eliot Gardiner is one of the most versatile and sought-after conductors of our time. Founder and artistic director of The Monteverdi Choir, the English Baroque Soloists, and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, he also appears regularly with leading symphony orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, as well as at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. After serving as artistic director of the Opéra de Lyon (1983-1988) and chef fondateur of its orchestra, the focus of his opera projects in France moved to the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris-where he oversaw productions of Gluck's Orphée et Eurydice and Alceste, Weber's Oberon, Verdi's Falstaff, and most notably Berlioz's Les Troyens in 2003-and then to the Opéra Comique, where he conducted new productions of CarmenPelléas et Mélisande, Chabrier'sL'étoile, and the Weber-Berlioz Le Freyschütz with The Monteverdi Choir and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique.

    Acknowledged as a key figure in the early-music revival of the past four decades, Mr. Gardiner has led his own ensembles in a number of groundbreaking projects and international tours, including the yearlong Bach Cantata Pilgrimage to mark the 250th anniversary of the composer's death in the millennium year. With The Monteverdi Choir, Mr. Gardiner returned to King's College, Cambridge, in 2014 to perform Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine exactly 50 years to the day after their inaugural concert in the famous chapel. The same year, the 25th anniversary of the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique was marked by the filming of a BBC TV documentary on Beethoven, the ensemble's first visit to Latin America, and a celebratory European tour. The two ensembles came together last August for a widely acclaimed BBC Proms performance of Beethoven's Missa solemnis.

    The extent of Mr. Gardiner's repertoire is illustrated by more than 250 recordings for major record companies and by numerous international awards, including the Gramophone Special Achievement Award for live recordings of the complete church cantatas of Bach on the Soli Deo Gloria label. In 2013, he won the Critics' Circle's Outstanding Musician Award.

    His acclaimed book Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven was published by Penguin in the UK and by Knopf in the US in 2013. He was recently appointed president of the Bach-Archiv Leipzig.  

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Toccata from Monteverdi's L'Orfeo
English Baroque Soloists | John Eliot Gardiner, Conductor
Deutsche Grammophon

At a Glance

In this program, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and his English Baroque Soloists and The Monteverdi Choir perform Monteverdi’s magnificent first opera, L’Orfeo, of 1607. In Mr. Gardiner’s words, “L’Orfeo ... is the secular sibling of the great Vespro della Beata Vergine of 1610. To participate, as performer or listener in either work is, potentially, to be exposed to music’s power in one of its rawest, most concentrated forms ... As this ‘fable in music’ unfolds, we are exposed to the whole gamut of human emotions, from the most euphoric to the most dejected, presented in a musical language that is perhaps closer to impassioned speech than recitative has ever been, before or since.” Though L’Orfeo was written more than 400 years ago, its eloquence is timeless, and its daring manipulation of musical elements make it sound astonishingly modern to 21st-century ears.
Program Notes




Before Bach

Part of