Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble
• Founded 1971
The Drottningholm Court Baroque Ensemble was founded in 1971 by Lars Brolin using players from within the Stockholm Royal Opera Orchestra. The band takes its name from the Drottningholm Slottstheater, built on the island of Mälaren located directly opposite the city of Stockholm by King Gustaf III in 1766. The theater, built primarily for opera performances, was later incorporated into the Royal Palace complex, also built by Gustaf III and not completed until 1782. In 1792 Gustaf III was assassinated in the Drottningholm Slottstheater during a masquerade ball, an event that was later incorporated into an opera, Giuseppe Verdi's Un ballo in maschera. Gustaf's successor threatened to tear the Slottstheater down, but ultimately the building was simply locked up, encapsulating its original theatrical machinery, curtains, and interiors in an unchanged form for the next century and a half. Theatrical stagings were revived at the Slottstheater staring in the early '20s, and the theater's unique eighteenth century ambiance has been utilized as a setting for Ingmar Bergman's 1976 film of Mozart's The Magic Flute.
Needless to say, once you uncover an eighteenth century theater neatly locked away, as in a time capsule, you would want an appropriate period instrument musical ensemble to go with it. Yet it took five decades for musical scholarship to catch up with such an exigency. Once it was founded, another 15 years passed before the Drottningholm Court Baroque Ensemble was up to the business of recording. Its maiden effort, a 1986 rendering of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons led by Nils-Erik Sparf on the Swedish Bis label, was received with accolades of acclaim by reviewers and listeners everywhere. In the past two decades, the talents of the Drottningholm Court Baroque Ensemble have sustained them through roughly two dozen recordings for labels such as Bis, Naxos, Musica Sveciae, and Proprius. In the opening years of the twentieth century, subsidies from the Swedish government began to dry up in the face of hard economic times, and the Drottningholm Slottstheater was forced to shorten its season. Nonetheless, in recent years the theater has found the means to commission new operas from contemporary composers in addition to staging the Baroque- and Classical-period opera revivals that constitute its main fare. The Drottningholm Court Baroque Ensemble is kin to its sister organization, the Drottningholm Court Theatre Orchestra.