Il Pomo d'Oro
• Founded 2012
Often appears with
Based in Zurich, but with an international membership and reach, the historical-performance ensemble Il Pomo d'Oro specializes in Baroque opera and instrumental music. It has devoted many concerts and recordings to the immensely important, but still underexplored, repertory from 18th century Naples, the eighth-largest city in the world in 1750.
Il Pomo d'Oro takes its name from that of a 1666 opera by Antonio Cesti, a ten-hour work composed for the wedding of Leopold I of Austria and Margarita Teresa of Spain, and calling for 73,000 rocket fireworks and a horse ballet of 300 animals. (It has not yet re-created that performance, but one can hope.) Il Pomo d'Oro was formed in 2012 with Maxim Emelyanychev as chief conductor, and it quickly amassed an impressive body of recordings and engagements in top operatic and concert venues. The group has made appearances at top concert venues, including the Barbican in London and Carnegie Hall in New York. Its concert schedule in the 2010s was also notable for collaborations with two sopranos: Ann Hallenberg in arias connected with the figure of Agrippina, Nero's mother, and mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato. Il Pomo d'Oro has worked with El Sistema Greece, a cross-cultural enterprise offering music lessons, according to the principles of Venezuela's El Sistema music education structure, in refugee camps in Greece.
Il Pomo d'Oro released its debut album, the Diapason d'Or-winning Concerti per violino IV (Per L'Imperatore) in 2012 on the Naïve label. That was an installment in a series that has attracted top-notch instrumental and vocal collaborators such as violinist Riccardo Minasi, in Vivaldi's instrumental music, and in opera, countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic, with whom it has recorded two albums. Il Pomo d'Oro backed another countertenor, Franco Fagioli, on the 2013 release Arias for Caffarelli, which explored music associated with a little-known, Neapolitan rival of the famed castrato Farinelli and earned a Choc de l'année award in France. The group moved to Erato for a 2015 recording of Handel's Partenope, with Minasi as the conductor, and has remained on Erato for recordings, including a set of Haydn keyboard concertos with Emelyanychev as the harpsichordist and conductor; it also has released more music on Naïve, and in the late 2010s, began an association with the PentaTone label. In 2017, Il Pomo d'Oro backed a Cencic-led cast in a recording of Handel's Ottone. The ensemble managed three releases during the pandemic year of 2020: a recording of Handel's opera Agrippina starring Fagioli, the Fagioli recital Veni Vidi Vinci, and an album of Bach harpsichord concertos on PentaTone with Francesco Corti. A second volume of those appeared in 2021.