Press Release


BEMF presents soprano Amanda Forsythe with Opera Prima on February 3 and the quartet Le Consort on February 23, both in Cambridge, MA



Opera Prima
Amanda Forsythe, soprano
Cristiano Contadin, director

Andrea Inghisciano, cornetto; Mauro Spinazzè, violin; Marta Graziolino, triple harp; Gianluca Geremia, chitarrone; Cristiano Contadin, viola da gamba


Thursday, February 1, 2024 at 7:30pm ET
The Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison Avenue, New York, NY

Saturday, February 3, 2024 at 8pm ET
First Church Cambridge, Congregational, 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA

Virtual Premiere: Saturday, February 17, 2024 at 8pm ET
Available until Saturday, March 3, 2024 at 11:59pm ET


Tormento Seincento

Claudio Monteverdi: Sinfonia from VIII book of Madrigals
Luigi Rossi: Mio ben from “Orfeo”
Tarquinio Merula: Ballo dato Eccardo
Virgilio Mazzocchi: Sdegno campion audace
Cipriano de Rore/ Girolamo Dalla Casa: Anchor che col partire
Barbara Strozzi: Che si può fare
Antonio Sartorio: Perché quando apersi a l’aure vitali
Francesco Cavalli: Dammi morte Aria from “Artemisia”
Giovanni G. Kapsberger: Canario
Benedetto Ferrari: Queste pungenti spine
Monteverdi: Voglio di vita uscire
Merula: Ballo detto Pollicio
Kapsberger: Arpeggiata
Giulio Caccini: Amarilli, mia bella Amarilli
Anonymous: Amarilli, mia bella Amarilli
Maurizio Cazzati: Ciaccona a 3 con il suo balletto
Rossi: La bella più bella
Andrea Falconieri: Passacalle a 3
Ferrari: Amanti io vi so dire

TICKETS: Cambridge tickets are priced at $90, $60, $45, and $25 for the in-person performance, and $25 for the virtual event. All Cambridge in-person tickets include a complimentary ticket for the virtual performance. To purchase tickets, visit or call the BEMF Box Office at 617-661-1812. Discounts are available for students and seniors. New York tickets are priced at $50, or $40 for Morgan Members; visit or call (212) 685-0008 ext. 560 for more information.

Founded by famed viola da gamba virtuoso Cristiano Contadin, the ensemble Opera Prima is dedicated to exploring the Italian repertoire of the 17th centry (the Seicento) with technical mastery and buoyant enthusiasm. They make their BEMF début alongside a favorite of Boston audiences, superstar soprano Amanda Forsythe, in a program of stunningly evocative masterpieces by Monteverdi, Rossi, Merula, Caccini, and others that explore the passions of the human soul.

“In many ways, the music of the early Baroque period bears a stronger relationship to jazz improvisation than to the late Baroque composers,” writes soprano Amanda Forsythe in her program notes. “Musicians of the early Baroque were masters of improvisation and they invented melodies and harmonies with skill and confidence. The goal of this period in music was expression—the singer was at an advantage, with the text and melody notated, but the heart of this operation was the Basso Continuo, the musicians that interpreted the figured bass line.”

A pre-concert video featuring the artists will be shared on and social media the week of February 3.

A pre-concert talk will precede the performance in New York at 7pm on Thursday, February 1.

Opera Prima, directed by Cristiano Contadin, was created to bring historically informed concerts and recordings of the Renaissance and Baroque periods to life. The heart of the project lies in exploring the repertoire of the viola da gamba in its various styles, and approaching all music with pleasure and enthusiasm, as if each work for this instrument was newly-composed. If, through passionate communication, we can touch the hearts of the public, then the language of early music will be easy to understand. Opera Prima has performed concerts at festivals in Italy, Greece, Slovenia and Estonia and has recorded extensively, earning such accolades as “Disc of the Month” by Musica magazine, CD of the month by Classic Voice Magazine, and a Critic’s Choice from Opera News.

Soprano Amanda Forsythe sang Eurydice on Boston Early Music Festival’s 2015 Grammy-winning recording of Charpentier’s La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers, and earned widespread acclaim for her albums of Handel arias with Apollo’s Fire on the Avie label and Gluck’s Orfeo with Philippe Jaroussky on the Erato label. With BEMF, she has performed operas by Campra, Steffani, Pergolesi, Handel, Charpentier, and Monteverdi, many of which are available on recording. Other opera engagements have included roles for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro; and the major houses of Geneva, Munich, Seattle, Rome, Berlin, and Philadelphia. In recent seasons Ms. Forsythe’s major concert engagements have included performances with the Boston Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Hong Kong Philharmonic, The New York Philharmonic, the Houston Symphony, the Orchestra Sinfonica Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, the Moscow Philharmonic, the Orchestra of St. Lukes, Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano, The Academy of Ancient Music, The St. Louis Symphony, Music of the Baroque, and the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra.

Cristiano Contadin is an Italian viola da gamba player and the founder of Opera Prima, a chamber music group of internationally-acclaimed soloists devoted to the Baroque repertoire. As a gamba soloist and continuo player, he collaborates with ensembles in Italy and abroad, including I Barocchisti, Il Suonar Parlante, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Accademia Bizantina, La Venexiana, Les Musiciens du Prince, Odhecaton, Orchestra Sinfonica “G.Verdi” (Milan), Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala (Milan), Cantar Lontano, and the Boston Early Music Festival. He aims to cultivate a repertoire that embraces ancient as well as modern viol consort music. He has performed works by contemporary composers and jazz artists such as Kenny Wheeler, Uri Caine, Don Byron, Ernst Reijseger, Vanni Moretto, Markus Stockhausen, Francesco Hoch, Henry Bartholomée, and Lucio Garau, and performed in the Italian premiere of George Benjamin's Written on Skin with the Orchestra Haydn of Bolzano. Mr. Contadin teaches Viola da Gamba at the Conservatory B. Marcello in Venice, and has also held teaching positions at the Academy of Music in Esbjerg, Denmark, the Conservatory "S. Giacomantonio" in Cosenza, and the Vincenzo Bellini Conservatory in Palermo, Sicily. He is the summer director of L'Instituto Laboratorio di Music Antica (ILMA) in San Vito al Tagliamento. Mr. Contadin plays an anonymous Venetian bass viol from the 18th century.


Le Conosrt

Sophie de Bardonnèche & Augusta McKay Lodge, violin;
Hanna Salzenstein, violoncello; Justin Taylor, harpsichord


Friday, February 23, 2024 at 8pm ET
St. Paul Church, Bow & Arrow Streets, Cambridge

Virtual Premiere: Friday, March 8, 2024 at 8pm ET
Available until Friday, March 22, 2024 at 11:59pm ET


A Journey through Baroque Europe

Antonio Vivaldi: Trio Sonata in G-minor, Op 1, No. 1
Giovanni Battista Reali: Violin Sonata Op. 2, No. 1 (Grave)
Arcangelo Corelli: Trio Sonata in C-Major, Op. 4, No. 1
Jean-Philippe Rameau: Gavotte et ses doubles
Rameau: Excerpts from "Les Indes galantes"
Jean-François Dandrieu: Trio Sonata in G-minor, Op. 1, No. 3
Reali: "La Follia" Op. 1, No. 12
Nicola Matteis, Jr.: Sarabanda Amorosa
Henry Purcell: Sonata of Four Parts in G Minor, Z807
Johann Sebastian Bach: Trio Sonata in G-Major, BWV 1038
Bach: Andante, BWV 974 (after Marcello)
Vivaldi: Trio Sonata in D-minor, Op. 1, No. 12, "La Follia"

TICKETS: Tickets are priced at $90, $60, $45, and $25 for the in-person performance, and $25 for the virtual event. All in-person tickets include a complimentary ticket for the virtual performance. To purchase tickets, visit or call the BEMF Box Office at 617-661-1812. Discounts are available for students and seniors.

The captivating musicians of Le Consort interpret the trio sonata repertoire with enthusiasm, sincerity, and modernity. Their performances have won accolades around the world for their dynamic and sensual virtuosity. Join them for their BEMF début as they lead a whirlwind tour through Italy, England, Germany, and France, illustrating the immense expressive range and creativity of Bach, Vivaldi, Corelli, Purcell, Rameau, and others. The program features two magnificent settings of La Follia—the era’s most recognizable melody, and one which still resonates today.

A pre-concert video featuring members of Le Consort will be shared on and social media the week of February 23

Le Consort, a leading Baroque chamber ensemble co-directed by harpsichordist Justin Taylor and violinist Théotime Langlois de Swarte (currently on paternity leave), comprises four young musicians who interpret the trio sonata repertoire with enthusiasm, sincerity, and modernity. The group’s mission is to bring together compelling musical personalities in the service of chamber music from the repertoire of the 17th and 18th centuries. From Corelli to Vivaldi, from Purcell to Couperin, the dialogue between the two violins and the basso continuo displays a wealth of contrasts between vocality, sensuality, and virtuosity. Le Consort takes this genre, the quintessence of Baroque chamber music, and interprets it with a personal, dynamic, and colorful language. With a core which has remained constant since their founding in 2016, Le Consort performances approach a level of musical integration typically found in long-standing string quartets. In 2017 they claimed First Prize and the Audience Prize at the Loire Valley International Early Music Competition, chaired by William Christie. Their recordings, including OPUS 1 (featuring the unpublished sonatas of Jean-François Dandrieu), and Specchio Veneziano (trio sonatas of Vivaldi alongside music of his less familiar contemporary, Giovanni Reali), have earned numerous awards and extensive critical acclaim. Le Consort is in residence at the Banque de France, the Singer-Polignac Foundation, and the Abbaye de Royaumont.

Recognized as the preeminent early music presenter and Baroque opera producer in North America, the Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF) has been credited with securing Boston’s reputation as “America’s early music capital” (The Boston Globe). Founded in 1981, BEMF offers diverse programs and activities, including one GRAMMY Award–winning and five GRAMMY Award–nominated opera recordings, an annual concert series that brings early music’s brightest stars to the Boston and New York concert stages, and a biennial week-long Festival and Exhibition recognized as the “world’s leading festival of early music” (The Times, London). The 23rd Boston Early Music Festival will take place from June 8 to 15, 2025, and will feature a fully staged production of Reinhard Keiser’s Octavia. BEMF’s Artistic Leadership includes Artistic Directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, Opera Director Gilbert Blin, Orchestra Director Robert Mealy, and Dance Director Melinda Sullivan.

The Boston Early Music Festival is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Constellation Charitable Foundation, and WCRB Classical Radio Boston, as well as a number of generous foundations and individuals from around the world.

For more information, press tickets, or to schedule an interview, please contact Kathleen Fay at