Monteverdi 450

Sir John Eliot Gardiner, English Baroque Soloists & Monteverdi Choir

Experience the full gamut of human emotions through the music of Monteverdi, performed as it should be heard by the world’s finest exponents of his music, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and Monteverdi Choir.

This April and May the classical world converges on Bristol for 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.

Drawing together a peerless ensemble comprising the acclaimed Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists and a stellar cast of international soloists, Sir John Eliot Gardiner brings to life nail-biting myth and murky Roman history with the impeccable insight into Monteverdi’s music only he possesses.

Colston Hall is thrilled to be presenting the UK premiere of these operas, with other venues on the tour including Venice, Lucerne, Barcelona and Paris. For three nights in April/May 2017, Bristol will be at the heart of the classical music world.


More information

Monteverdi 450

Sir John Eliot Gardiner, English Baroque Soloists & Monteverdi Choir

Book for all three operas and save 25%

Don’t miss a single second of Monteverdi 450 – book for all three operas and save 25% on your booking.

Hotel deals

Why not make more of your Monteverdi 450 experience by booking an overnight stay? Colston Hall customers enjoy special rates of two stunning Bristol hotels, the Mercure and Hotel du Vin, both located within short walking distance of the venue.

Hotel du Vin – Colston Hall customers enjoy 5% off of best available rate at time of booking subject to availability offered 7 days a week by inputting COL1FRO (room only) or COL1FFB (BB) when prompted when booking online.

Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel & Mercure Bristol Holland House Hotel and Spa – Colston Hall customers can enjoy the following rates including bed and breakfast including VAT:

Double bedded room – 1 person £99.00
Double bedded room – 2 people £109.00

Click here for more information on these special deals


2017 will be an important milestone in Western cultural history – one that marks the birth of Claudio Monteverdi, one of the founders of opera, who transformed the miniature form of the madrigal into a full-scale music drama.

Like Mozart, who transforms the ancient past into something forever contemporary, and can convey what makes people tick in the twist of a cadence, the intensification of a mood, or the interplay of comic light and tragic shade, at the dawn of opera, Monteverdi is its brightest sun, its wake-up call to the art of the infinitely possible.

As an observer of human nature in all its forms, Monteverdi presents the full spectrum of character traits from the purest to the most depraved, obsessed and corrupt. Monteverdi’s operas invite direct comparison with the greatest artists and scientists of his age – Shakespeare, Galileo, Caravaggio, Rubens, Titian and Tintoretto. Above all, it is Monteverdi’s talent for communicating emotion through music that is the driving force of his operas, which have not lost their power through the centuries.

As Gardiner explains:

The full unchanging gamut of human emotions – bewildering, passionate, uncomfortable and sometimes uncontrollable – form the subtext of all of Monteverdi’s surviving musical dramas. More often than not, he shows a deep empathy for his characters – including the less salubrious ones – just as his contemporary Shakespeare does. Both revelled in juxtaposing tragedy with lowlife comedy. Both men lived on the cusp of exciting, and dangerous, cultural worlds. By performing the trilogy in consecutive performances we hope to take audiences on a voyage – from the pastoral world to the court and the city, from myth to political history, from innocence to corruption, from a portrait of man subject to the whim of the gods, to a hero imprisoned by his human condition, and finally to a dual portrait of mad lovers, uncontrolled in their ambition and lust. Who is the true victor in the end? Perhaps the music.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner

While still an undergraduate Sir John Eliot Gardiner famously conducted a landmark performance of the Vespers of 1610 that inaugurated the internationally celebrated choir that bears the composer’s name to this day; and Monteverdi has been a constantly enriching companion since. Their performances and recordings span the intimacy of the madrigals, the ceremonial splendour of the music for St Mark’s Venice, and the three surviving operas that seal Monteverdi’s genius.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner  is dedicating a year to the visionary 16th century composer. Drawing together Gardiner’s peerless choir and period instrument ensemble plus a stellar cast of soloists, the maestro squares up to an operatic legacy with a trio of semi-stagings. In addition to the operas, the Monteverdi Choir & Orchestras will be performing the Vespers at Basilica dei Frari, Venice, as well as working alongside distinguished musicologists and experts in Monteverdi both during the Accademia Monteverdiana and the anniversary year.

Find out more about Monteverdi 450

Follow all the latest announcements about the series on social media with the hashtag #Monteverdi450

The Operas


Starting in the realm of the demigods, charismatic musician Orpheus descends to the underworld in an attempt to bring his beloved Eurydice back to life. His journey proves fruitless, as he cannot prevent himself from looking back at Eurydice as she follows him back to the living world and he loses her forever to the world of the dead.

Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria

From the pastoral world of Orpheus, Monteverdi moves to the Homeric world of Odysseus in the aftermath of the Trojan War. When Ulysses, King of Ithaca, returns home at the end of a ten-year journey he finds his faithful queen, Penelope, besieged by a trio of unctuous suitors and urged by her advisors to accept a new husband. Ulysses (with both the help and hindrance of the quarrelling gods) eventually convinces her of his true identity, routs the three suitors and regains his kingdom.

L’incoronazione di Poppea

Monteverdi’s final opera is a celebration of carnal love and ambition triumphing at the expense of reason and morality. Set in a world of shifting alliances, formed and dissolved in the attempt to achieve amorous goals and social ambitions, the opera focuses on anti-heroine Poppea’s ruthless rise from Nero’s mistress to his acknowledged queen. In an opera of stark contrasts, Monteverdi prepares us to despise Nero and Poppea as they are satirised by two disgruntled sentry guards, and yet the ensuing portrayal of the two lovers as they exchange and entwine musical lines leaves us under their irresistible spell.


Orfeo cast includes:

Krystian Adam (Orfeo), Hana Blažíková (La Musica/Euridice), Lucile Richardot (Messaggera), Anna Dennis (Ninfa), Kangmin Justin Kim (Speranza), Francisco Fernandez Rueda (Pastore I), Gareth Traseder (Pastore II/Spirito II/Echo), Michal Czerniawski (Pastore III), Gianluca Buratto (Caronte/Plutone), Francesca Boncompagni (Proserpina), Peter Davoren (Spirito I), Furio Zanasi (Apollo)

Ulisse cast includes:

Furio Zanasi (Ulisse), Lucille Richardot (Penelope), Hana Blažíková (Minerva/Fortuna), Krystian Adam (Telemaco), Francisco Fernandez Rueda (Eumete), Robert Burt (Iro), Zachary Wilder (Eurimaco), Anna Dennis (Melanto), John Taylor Ward (Tempo/Giove), Francesca Boncompagni (Giunone), Silvia Frigato (Amore), Carlo Vistoli (Umana fragilità), Gianluca Buratto (Nettuno/Antinoo), Michal Czerniawski (Pisandro), Gareth Treseder (Anfinomo)

Poppea cast includes:

Hana Blažíková (Poppea/Drusilla/ Virtù), Kangmin Justin Kim (Nerone), Marianna Pizzolato (Ottavia), Carlo Vistoli (Ottone), Gianluca Buratto (Seneca), Lucile Richardot (Arnalta), Michal Czerniawski (Nutrice), Silvia Frigato (Amore/Valletto), Anna Dennis (Fortuna), John Taylor Ward (Mercurio/Littore), Furio Zanasi (Soldato I/Soldato II/Liberto), Zachary Wilder (Lucano), Francesca Boncompagni (Damigella), Lucile Richardot (Venere)

Bristol cast to be confirmed. All cast listings are subject to change.

Book for all three Monteverdi 450 concerts and save 25%

Premium tickets including champagne reception available

Brought to Bristol by Bristol Music Consortium, a partnership between Bristol Music Trust and St. George’s Bristol.

Were you at this show?

We'd love to hear your memories of the performance. Add your photos, reviews and memories via Twitter using the hashtags: #bristolbeacon and #show158287 and they will appear on this page

Part of

  • Part of Colston Hall’s 150th Anniversary programme

  • Sponsored by Averys
    World renowned fine wine merchants Averys began in 1793 and through the generations have maintained strong ties with many of the world’s best-known winemaking families. Averys customers continue to enjoy the extraordinary; wines grown in top vineyards and crafted in small quantities.

Welcome to
Bristol Beacon

On Wednesday 23 September 2020 Colston Hall changed its name to Bristol Beacon.

Our new name is just the first step, it is about more than the sign above our door. Click below to find out more about how we’re changing, watch our name announcement, and discover how we want everyone to share in the joy of live music.

More info Enter site