18 Jul 2023
John Eliot Gardiner was named an Honorary Citizen of Cremona, the town where Monteverdi was born, on 25 June 2023. The ceremony was held in the Sala dei Quadri of the Palazzo Comunale in Cremona, Italy.
“It is an honour for me to be here and to become a citizen of the city where Claudio Monteverdi was born who, for me, is the greatest composer”
President Carletti of the Municipal Council said, “Honorary Citizenship is conferred on Maestro Sir John Eliot Gardiner, extraordinary promoter of Italian culture and music in the world, for the strong and lasting relationship with the City of Cremona and for the close and inspired connection with the work of the illustrious Claudio Monteverdi from Cremona.” John Eliot Gardiner added, “It is an honour for me to be here and to become a citizen of the city where Claudio Monteverdi was born who, for me, is the greatest composer.”
John Eliot Gardiner was then also named Honorary President of the Claudio Monteverdi Foundation.
At the end of the ceremony Antonio Greco and Cremona Antiqua performed two pieces from Monteverdi’s opera L’Orfeo. John Eliot Gardiner noted, “To hear Antonio, who is a good friend of mine, with such a wonderful group singing Monteverdi here, in Cremona, that touches me so much.”
The Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, conducted by John Eliot Gardiner, performed some of the greatest sacred works Monteverdi composed in the final decades of his life at the church of Sant’Agostino in Cremona that evening, on the last night of the 2023 Monteverdi Festival, and received a standing ovation. La Provincia described the performance as, “A heavenly, sublime concert” and Voce Blu noted, “Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists enchant at the Monteverdi Festival in Cremona.”
Composer Claudio Monteverdi has been central to Monteverdi Choir & Orchestras since it was founded. During this time, John Eliot Gardiner has been a pioneering figure in the revival of Monteverdi, breathing new life into little-known repertoire and giving Monteverdi his rightful place on international concert and opera stages.
In 2017, to mark the 450th anniversary of the birth of Monteverdi, the Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists and an exemplary cast of world-class singers performed the composer’s three surviving operas, L’Orfeo, L’incoronazione di Poppea and Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, across Europe and the United States. The Monteverdi 450 Project received the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Award. In 2019 Monteverdi Choir & Orchestras released a critically acclaimed series of podcasts exploring the role of Monteverdi within the tumultuous cultural environment of the early 17th century.
In June 2023 the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, conducted by John Eliot Gardiner, paid tribute to Claudio Monteverdi by performing his sacred and secular music at evocative venues associated with the composer’s life and career in Italy which was filmed for a spectacular documentary. They performed at the Galleria Borghese in Rome, bringing alive Monteverdi’s music alongside the artworks of Caravaggio, Bernini and Titian; at the Basilica San Marco in Venice, the church where Monteverdi is buried; at the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua, where Monteverdi composed and performed some of his greatest works, including his first opera L’Orfeo; and at the Monteverdi Festival in Cremona, the town where the composer was born.