Cappella Neapolitana

The ensemble was founded in 1987 by Antonio Florio as Cappella della Pietà de’ Turchini, and since 2016 it has performed as Cappella Neapolitana. It is made up of instrumentalists and singers performing Neapolitan music from the 17th and 18th centuries, and presenting little-known and obscure composers to the wider audience. The originality of their repertoire and the strict observance of the Baroque performance techniques make the group a crown jewel in the field of musical culture not only in Italy, but also internationally. The ensemble performed on the most famous European stages (Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Teatro San Carlo, Palau de la Música in Barcelona, Berlin Philharmonic, Konzerthaus in Vienna, Teatro Lope de Vega in Sevilla, Associazione Alessandro Scarlatti/Teatro Sannazaro in Naples, Théâtre de La Monnaie), as well as participated in the most important festivals of early music in Europe: Monteverdi Festival in Cremona, Baroque music festivals in Versailles, Nancy, Nantes, Metz, Caen, Ambronay, Festival de Otoño in Madrid, festivals of early music in Tel Aviv, Barcelona, Potsdam, BBC Early Music Festival, Cité de la Musique in Paris, Saison Musicale de la Fondation Royaumont, Mozart Festival in La Coruña and EARLYMUSIC in Saint Petersburg. The repertoire of works performed on stage and presented during concerts is equally extensive; it encompasses: Boerio’s “Il disperato innocente,” Purcell’s “Dido and Æneas” and “The Fairy Queen”, “Festa napoletana”, “Statira, principessa di Persia” (produced for Teatro San Carlo) and “Motezuma” by Francesco de Majo, “La Partenope” by Vinci in the first contemporary performance, “La finta giardiniera” by Anfossi, “Ottavia restituita al trono” by Domenico Scarlatti, “La Salustia” by Pergolesi, as well as “Aci, Galatea e Polifemo” by Handel.

The ensemble has made recordings for Radio France, BBC London, Belgian, Spanish, German and Austrian radio stations, and in 1998, they were involved in making a documentary film for Belgian television, as well as a documentary devoted to opera buffa for the Franco-German ARTE TV (the winner of the UNESCO Award). The ensemble has also made numerous recordings, including CDs released by the Symphonia label and dedicated to previously unpublished works from the Neapolitan Baroque repertoire, which won praise and recognition of international critics. After the first 10 titles published by Symphonia in Bologna, starting in 1991, since 1996, the ensemble started recording for the prestigious Paris-based Opus 111-Naïve label, publishing 15 titles in the “Treasures of Naples” series. In 1996-1998, the ensemble published three operas, prepared in their premiere contemporary rendition for three consecutive season openings of Teatro Petruzella in Bari: “La Stellidaura vendicante” by Provenzale, “La finta cameriera” by Latilla and “Li zite ‘ngalera” by Vinci. In the same decade, they also performed other works by Provenzale for Teatro Massimo in Palermo and Teatro San Carlo in Naples (“La colomba ferita” and “Il schiavo di sua moglie”).

Among the numerous prizes and distinctions won by the ensemble, it is worth to mention the prize established in 1996 by the French daily “Le Monde”, the Vivaldi Prize awarded by the Cini Foundation in Venice, the Abbiati Prize of the National Association of Music Critics, the Diapason d’Or for Vinci’s “Li zite’ ngalera” (1999), “Pulcinella vendicato” (2002) and “Le Cantate Spagnole” (2006); the Grand Prix de l’Académie Charles Cros (1999), as well as Timbre de Platine for “Statira principessa di Persia” by Francesco Cavalli. Since 2005, the ensemble has recorded Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater”, Provenzale’s “Missa Defunctorum” and 18th-century Neapolitan songs for the French phonographic label Eloquentia. In 2008, the musicians performed on the stages of Teatro Municipale Valli in Reggio Emilia and Teatro Mercadante in Naples with “L’Alidoro” by Leo; the performance was recorded on DVD and received the prestigious Diapason d’Or and L’Orphèe d’Or awards from the Parisian Académie du Disque Lyrique.

In the recent years, the cooperation with the Glossa label has led to the recording of ten CDs, starting with “L’Adoratione de’ Maggi” by Cristofaro Caresana (BBC Review’s “Christmas Choice” phonographic award), “Tenebrae: Music for Holy Week in Naples” and “I viaggi di Faustina” featuring Italian soprano Roberta Invernizzi (Recording of the Month of the “BBC Music Magazine”), to “Domenico Gizzi, a Star Castrato in Baroque Roma” recalling the celebrity of the 18th-century world of music. In 2016, a new album was released, produced by Glossa, dedicated to Gaetano Veneziano’s “Passio”, featuring the Ghislieri Choir and soloists – Raffaele Pe, Luca Cervoni and Marco Bussi; it was the first performance of the ensemble under its new name, Cappella Neapolitana. Their most recent recording presents their latest discovery, Donato Ricchezza, a hitherto unknown 17th-century composer from Naples (“Oratorio de los Santos Niños”, 2017). In 2018, after Monteverdi’s “L’Orfeo” at Teatro Regio in Turin and concerts at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and in Ghent, the premiere of the contemporary version of Leonardo Vinci’s “Siroe, re di Persia” at Teatro San Carlo in Naples, the ensemble resumed its exploration of the lesser known Neapolitan musica sacra of the 17th century, including an enthusiastic discovery of the repertoire of Antonio Nola.

The line-up of the Cappella Neapolitana varies according to the challenges posed by the current repertoire, although some instruments have remained unchanged since the ensemble was founded in 1987. Since 2016, the orchestra has had its place as a resident in the Domus Ars cultural centre in Naples, consolidating institution’s role as a hub of early music research and activities in Southern Italy. The famous European music critic Juán Angel Vela del Campo is the Honorary President of Cappella Neapolitana, whereas the Italian musicologist Dinko Fabris, who has been working with the ensemble since the very beginning of its activity, acts as a consultant for research in the field of musicology.

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