Monteverdi’s Marian Vespers of 1610

As its second offering of season XIII, Consortium Carissimi will present Claudio Monteverdi’s Marian Vespers of 1610 in the Chapel of St. Mary on Friday, January 2, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, January 4, at 2 p.m. The Chapel is located on the St. Paul Seminary campus, 2260 Summit Avenue, St. Paul.


In scale, Monteverdi’s Vespers was the most ambitious work of religious music before Bach. This 90-minute piece includes soloists, chorus, and orchestra and has both liturgical and extra-liturgical elements. Monteverdi’s Marian Vespers of 1610 was his first sacred work, and stands out for its assimilation of both old and new styles.

The term “Vespers” (evening prayers) is taken from the Hours of the Divine Office, a set of daily prayers of the Catholic Church which have remained structurally unchanged for 1500 years.

The Vespers requires vocal forces skillful enough to cover up to 10 vocal parts in some movements and split into separate choirs in others. Monteverdi’s unique approach to each movement of the Vespers earned the work a place in history. The Vespers achieves overall unity by building each movement on the traditional Gregorian plainchant for each text, which becomes a cantus firmus in Monteverdi’s setting.

The Vespers was first printed in Venice in 1610 when the composer (1567-1643) was working at the ducal court in Mantua. The work may have been written as an audition piece for posts at Venice (Monteverdi became maestro di cappella at St Mark’s Basilica in Venice in 1613) and Rome.

With violins, sackbuts, cornetti, organ and singers one to a part, this production will bring Monteverdi’s Vespers to the Twin Cities in a powerful yet intimate way, in the beautiful chapel dedicated to Mary on the St. Paul Seminary Campus.

The singers include: Linh Kauffman; Marita Link; Linda Kachelmeier; Clara Osowski; Bill Pederson; Roy Heilman; Steve Staruch; Mike Schmidt; Douglas Shambo II; and Garrick Comeaux. The instrumentalists include: Cornetto I: Stephen Escher; Cornetto II: Kris Kwapis; Violino I: Mark Levine. Violino II: Ginna Watson; Viola: Steve Staruch; Trombone I: Monte Mumford; Trombone II: Andrew Nelson; Trombone III: Garrett Lahr

Liuto: Mike Pettmann; Tiorba: Phil Rukavina; Viola da gamba: Annalisa Pappano

Organo I: Bruce Jacobs; Organo II: Donald Livingston.

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Consortium Carissimi was founded in Rome, Italy in 1996 by Garrick Comeaux, Artistic Director, with the aim of presenting the sacred and secular music of early Roman Baroque. As well as works by Carissimi, the ensemble also performs pieces by his contemporaries. Consortium Carissimi also devotes much of its research and concert activity to composers such as Graziani, Rossi, Pasquini and Sances, thus providing a clearer picture of the extraordinary effervescence that existed in the music world during the early Baroque period in Rome.

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