Having brought “a touch of the sublime” (Telegraph, UK) to Handel’s Semele on their recent high-profile European tour, now the Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, and John Eliot Gardiner look forward to embarking on “Monteverdi | Carissimi | Scarlatti,” an international tour of choral masterpieces (Sep 26–Nov 19).
The Tour Details
Marking the MCO’s long-overdue Russian debut, the tour launches with concerts at Moscow’s state-of-the-art new Zaryadye Concert Hall and the St. Petersburg Philharmonia. These highlight the UK-Russia Year of Music, a new binational program supported by the British Council to celebrate the two countries’ rich musical cultures. With performances in a succession of storied venues – Bratislava’s Slovak Philharmonic, Rio de Janeiro’s Theatro Municipal, the Sala São Paulo, Montevideo’s Teatro Solís, Buenos Aires’ Teatro Colón, Santiago’s Teatro CorpArtes, Frutillar’s Teatro del Lago, and Curitiba’s Teatro Positivo – the tour also features the ensembles’ national debuts in Slovakia, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile.
Curated by MCO founder and artistic director John Eliot Gardiner, the winner of more Gramophone Awards than any other living artist, the tour showcases the virtuosity of the Monteverdi Choir and celebrates the stylistic innovations of the Italian Baroque. The program comprises Monteverdi’s final setting of the mass, which intersperses old-fashioned polyphonic choral writing with more forward-looking declamatory passages; Carissimi’s Jephte, a miniature sacred musical drama combining quasi-operatic solo writing with meltingly beautiful choruses; Domenico Scarlatti’s ten-voice Stabat mater, which fuses polyphony with passionate rhetoric; and two Italian-influenced pieces by Purcell: the almost Monteverdian Jehova, quam multi sunt hostes, one of the English composer’s few Latin text settings, and his moving eight-voice supplication Hear my prayer, O Lord.
Meanwhile, Gardiner, the Monteverdi Choir, and the English Baroque Soloists won acclaim for their recent tour of Handel’s Semele, which took them to four iconic European concert halls – the Paris Philharmonie, Barcelona’s Palau de la Música, Milan’s La Scala, and Rome’s Sala Santa Cecilia – as well as to London’s oldest new theater: the Alexandra Palace Theatre, a faithfully restored marvel of Victorian engineering that has just reopened for the first time in 80 years.
“Gardiner has always been a spirited conductor of Handel and there was not a dull minute in this performance,” declared the UK’s Financial Times after the London performance. Admiring “the energised work Gardiner won from his forces,” The Guardian found Lucile Richardot “a voice and a performer to be reckoned with” and Louise Alder “a glowing, unusually sympathetic Semele.” “She made ‘O sleep why dost thou leave me’ glow with feline post-coital bliss and turned the bravura of ‘Myself I shall adore’ into an exhilarating game. A lovely performance,” agreed the Telegraph, before concluding: “The greatest joy of the evening was generated by the wonderfully crisp and rhythmically alert singing of the Monteverdi Choir. … Sublime.”
Details of Gardiner and the MCO’s full 2019-20 season will be announced soon.
About the Monteverdi Choir & Orchestras (MCO)
The three ensembles that make up MCO – the Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique – are a leading force on the international music scene. Comprising world-class instrumentalists and singers of many different nationalities, they help realize the distinctive vision of their Founder and Artistic Director, John Eliot Gardiner, in groundbreaking projects spanning eight centuries of musical masterpieces. The Monteverdi Choir was founded in 1964 to bring fresh drama and immediacy to the choral repertoire. Performing on period instruments, the English Baroque Soloists specialize in Baroque and early Classical music, while the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique focuses on music of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Known for their expressive intensity, consummate technique, and historically informed performances, all three ensembles share an instantly recognizable core sound. Their 150-plus recordings have been honored with numerous prizes, including two Grammys and 14 Gramophone Awards.