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Monteverdi 450 named as best classical event of 2017

2017 has been a year of  important moments for Colston Hall as we celebrated our 150th anniversary and the incredible music that has been performed in the Hall throughout our history. One of those moments celebrated another significant milestone – the birth of the founder of opera, Claudio Monteverdi, who transformed the miniature form of the madrigal into a full-scale music drama. We’re delighted that all three performances in the operatic series Monteverdi 450, that celebrated the anniversary of his birth, have been named the Guardian’s top classical event of 2017.

In April and May this year, we presented the UK premiere of the Monteverdi 450 series, a landmark semi-staged presentation of Monteverdi’s three surviving operas – Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, L’incoronazione di Poppea and L’Orfeo – to mark 450 years since Monteverdi’s birth. After their performances at Colston Hall, the series went on to perform the Edinburgh International Festival, Salzburg Festival and countless other highly renowned international concert halls.

These operas, performed by English Baroque Soloists and Monteverdi Choir and led by the maestro of Monteverdi, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, were brought to life with their impeccable insight into Monteverdi’s music and received rapturous receptions and wide-spread critical acclaim.

Narrowly beating Simon Rattle’s concerts with London Symphony Orchestra and the Welsh National Opera’s ‘From the House of the Dead’ to the top spot, the Monteverdi 450 series was “an enthralling experience” that critic Andrew Clements couldn’t resist awarding his highest praise to.

What came through in Monteverdi’s scores was sometimes shatteringly vivid. When these earliest of all music-theatre masterpieces are presented as intelligently and faithfully as this, the subsequent three and a half centuries of operatic history become almost irrelevant. Monteverdi’s genius seems to have understood and exploited every possibility that the newly invented genre offered.”

Andrew Clements, The Guardian

Our sister organisation and music education hub Bristol Plays Music has also received recognition for the education initiative we presented alongside the performances of the operas. The Music Teacher Awards for Excellence have shortlisted the project as the Best Classical Music Education Initiative for our Monteverdi 450 Project, the winner of which will be chosen by a public vote on Classic FM.

We’re delighted to have been able to present this iconic series of operas with English Baroque Soloists and Monteverdi Choir and focus the world’s classical music eye on Bristol – it has been one of the true highlights of our anniversary year.

Photography by ShotAway and Paul Box.

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