Europa Galante was formed in 1989 out of the desire of its artistic director, Fabio Biondi, to create an Italian instrumental ensemble for interpretations of the great baroque and classical repertoire on period instruments. The discovery of ancient music was then exclusively the domain of musicians of northern Europe, and the need for a uniqely Italian review of this repertoire was at the heart of the formation of the ensemble.
Europa Galante achieved great success early on with the release of its first recording of the concertos of Antonio Vivaldi (Cini Award in Venice, Choc de la Musique in France). From the outset, the ensemble was praised for its ability to “bring something truly new and vital to repertoires that are often performed, illuminating paths already widely traced with intimate modulations, articulated with expressiveness” (Gramophone).
“Europa Galante is acknowledge as among the world’s best. Their performances and recordings are notable as much for their flair and vivid originality as for their meticulous attention to interpretative detail and precision of the ensemble.”
In the following years, the new and unique character of Europa Galante was underlined by a growing list of important recording awards, including numerous Diapason d’Or and Choc du Monde de la Musique prizes, several BBC editor’s choices, RTL awards and three Grammy Awards nominations.
But above all, the ensemble became widely known for its performances in the world’s most important opera theatres and concert halls including Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Royal Albert Hall in London, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, Boulez-Saal in Berlin, Auditorio Nacional in Madrid, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York (where the group was reviewed by The New York Times as “characterized by dynamism and refinement”), Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and Sydney Opera House. Major festival performances have included BBC Proms in London, Edinburgh International Festival, Baalbek Festival in Lebanon, as well as important festivals in Asia including the Spring Festival at the National Center of Performing Arts in Beijing, Hong Kong Arts Festival and other performances in the region such as Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Shanghai Concert Hall and Lotte Hall in Seoul. Europa Galante performs on all continents.
In addition to the rediscovery of the most famous works of the Italian baroque repertoire, such as their revolutionary interpretation of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons which has garnered mythical status, Europa Galante has also been involved in the recovery of hidden treasures of the 1700s. In Italy, the ensemble collaborated with the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in the reconstruction of oratorios by Antonio Caldara, Leonardo Leo and Gian Francesco de Mayo, as well as Scarlatti’s works such as Carlo Re d’Allemagna, Il Trionfo dell’Onore and Massimo Puppieno.
This research work has been widely recognised and awarded. In 2002, Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante received the Abbiati Award from Italian music critics for their concert activity as a whole and for the performance of Il Trionfo dell’Onore.
Again in 2008 Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante, together with Compagnia Colla, were awarded the Abbiati special prize for “Filemone e Bauci” by Haydn, for the originality and value of the rediscovery of this work, which they were able to restore to its full instrumental and vocal splendor.
But the curiosity of Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante goes further, crossing the limit of the baroque and the classical styles. In 2001 the group made its first foray into the bel canto repertoire with a performance of Bellini’s “Norma” on original instruments for the Verdi Festival. Despite the uproar that it aroused from the Parma gallery fans, this Norma marked the beginning of a path of re-reading, both at a musicological and organic level, of Italian nineteenth-century music.
Collaborations with Europa Galante on this exciting journey have included the Rieti Festival with titles such as “I Capuleti e I Montecchi” by Bellini and “Anna Bolena” by Donizetti, and the Bremen Festival with “La Cenerentola” by Rossini. But above all one of the most important festivals in Europe, the Chopin Festival, has since 2016 supported the orchestra in all its projects of rediscovery of the bel canto repertoire such as Bellini, Donizetti and also Verdi with the operas “Macbeth” and “Il Corsaro”. In Warsaw, Europa Galante also regularly performs works by the well-known Polish composer Stanislaw Moniuszko – “Halka”, “Flis”, “Hrabina” – and in August 2021 the ensemble will perform “Verbum Nobile” together with Donizetti’s playful drama “Betly”.
“The musicianship is of such a high order that it seems unfaire to single out individual players for praise.”.
Europa Galante is made up of musicians who, together with and under the guidance of Fabio Biondi, have achieved through years of work and mutual understanding a common vision and passion for what they do. “More than a common orchestra, Europa Galante looks like a multi-register guitar or harp struck by Biondi’s master hand” (Amadeus), and The New York Times recognied that “the musicianship is of such high order that it seems unfair to single individual players for praise”.
This sense of mutual understanding has led to Europa Galante’s increasing chamber music activities which ranges from the Italian sonatas of the 700 to the quintets of Luigi Boccherini, and most recently the unpublished quartets of the Milanese Carlo Monza performed to critical acclaim at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2019.
After the painful hietas due to the global pandemic of Covid-19, Europa Galante will resume its activities in the 21/22 season with various projects including touring Monteverdi’s Orfeo to the Theater an der Wien and the Elbphilarmonie in Hamburg, a chamber music program by Haydn in Italy (Rome, Turin, Verona and Florence) and Vivaldi’s opera “Argippo”, recently recorded for the new Naïve discography Company, in Asia.
Europa Galante is resident at the Teatro Due Foundation in Parma with which it collaborates cyclically on staging projects.