The early music specialists will head to Australia to mark the occasion with madrigals from Cremona and Mantua.

Celebrated early music ensemble Les Arts Florissants will celebrate the 450th anniversary of Claudio Monteverdi’s birth with a concerts in Sydney at The Concourse in Chatswood. The ensemble, which was founded by Franco-American harpsichordist and conductor William Christie in 1979, will present two concerts of madrigals directed by the ensemble’s associate music director, British tenor Paul Agnew.

Les Arts Florissants

“Les Arts Florissants is considered to be the pre-eminent Baroque ensemble in the world. It is a testament to The Concourse performing arts centre to have secured them in an exclusive Sydney appearance in April,” said Greg Khoury, the venue’s Executive Director.

The ensemble for Sydney will be accompanied by two lutenists and harpsichord and comprises six singers from England, France, Italy, Northern Ireland, Scotland, with Australia represented by soprano Miriam Allan, a regular returnee for Pinchgut Opera productions.

The first concert will feature madrigals from Cremona, where Monteverdi was born and began composing while the second will feature works from Mantua, where Monteverdi worked as a vocalist and viol player before becoming music director at the court of Vincenzo I of Gonzaga.

“Interpreting his madrigals allows us to understand the fantastic evolution of Monteverdi’s music through which we discover the revolution that took place in Italian music at the beginning of the seventeenth century,” said Agnew, who embarked on a project four years ago to organise the compositions contained in eight volumes of madrigals written by Monteverdi between 1587 and 1638.

Les Arts Florissants has played a leading role in the revival of Baroque repertoire that has long been neglected, unearthing countless compositions from national archives, particularly music from the reign of Louis XIV, but also broader European repertoire across the 17th and 18th centuries.

When the ensemble came to Australia in 2015, performing a programme of works by Italian (and Italian-inspired) composers, Limelight’s Editor Clive Paget wrote: “The band was superb, playing with dash and vigour. The conducting was magnificent, the maestro shaping each offering to perfection and balancing the blend of warm strings and flawless woodwind with grace and style.”

Les Arts Florissants perform the Cremorna Madrigals April 3 and the Mantua Madrigals April 4 at The Concourse, Chatswood