Montiverdi Festival

Event time: 
Friday, April 25, 2008 - 4:00pm
Event description: 

Orfeo and Vespers

Woolsey Hall (Corner of College and Grove), New Haven on Friday, April 25 / 8 PM

St. Michael’s Church (225 W. 99th St.), New York City on Sunday, April 27 / 8 PM

The Yale Baroque Opera Project, and the Yale Schola Cantorum with the Yale Collegium Players, present performances of two of the greatest works in the history of western music: Claudio Monteverdi’s opera Orfeo published in 1609 and his monumental Vespero della beata vergine of 1610.

Monteverdi’s Orfeo, often considered the single work from which all operas are descended, brims with a lively and varied musical language, both vocal and instrumental, In solo recitative, song, chorus and dance, Monteverdi illustrates the joy, grief, loss, and triumphant transformation of Orpheus, the first in a long line of operatic heroes, who harnessed the power of music to achieve their own ends.  There will be two performances at Trinity Lutheran Church in New Haven (corner of Wall and Orange), on Friday, April 18 at 5:15 PM and on Saturday, April 19 at 2 PM. Musical direction is by Robert Mealy, Grant Herreid, and Charles Weaver; stage direction by Ethan Heard. The Yale Baroque Opera project is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Ellen Rosand is the executive director and Richard Lalli the artistic director. For more information, contact

Monteverdi’s Vespro della beata vergine (1610), comparable to Orfeo in many ways –  even to the extent of sharing its overture –  is one the most glorious works in the entire repertoire of sacred music for soloists, choir, and instrumental ensemble. When he published these Vespers in Venice, along with a six-part mass for voices and instruments, Monteverdi was seeking a new employer. He was known as the most prolific composer of secular music in all Italy, one who went beyond the conventions of his time, constantly exploring novel ideas, but he had not written any sacred music in nearly 30 years. The publication of 1610, a real tour-de-force, immediately established his mastery in the sacred realm.  It seems as if he poured everything into the Vespers, composing psalms, vocal and instrumental concertos and decidedly secular songs with sacred texts, in a vast range of styles while binding everything together by building each movement around traditional plainchant. The work will be performed in New Haven on Friday, April 25 at 8 PM in Woolsey Hall (corner College and Grove), and in New York City at St. Michael’s Church on Sunday, April 27 at 8 PM. Simon Carrington will conduct the Yale Schola Cantorum the Yale Collegium Players (Robert Mealy, director) and the Elm City Girls’ Choir (Rebecca Rosenbaum, director). Vocal soloists are current and former students in the vocal program in early music, oratorio, and chamber ensemble led by James Taylor. More information is at 203/432-5062.

All performances are free and open to the public; no tickets are required.

Presented by Yale Baroque Opera Project and Yale Institute of Sacred Music