The Full Monteverdi


“Frontier-shifting musical drama… diligently thought through and well-crafted to the hilt.”

Paul Boekkooi, Independent News and Media (South Africa), April 2010

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It’s daring, original and, for classic music buffs, it is a unique treat.

Barry Ronge, The Sunday Times (South Africa), April 2010

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This film is a brilliant adaptation of Monteverdi’s Fourth Book of Madrigals that is totally faithful to the composer’s music… a brilliant conceit and it works spectacularly well… This film makes explicit the drama that is inherent in the music and poetry and can, therefore, do a great deal to promote appreciation of Monteverdi’s madrigals… members of I Fagiolini sing with tremendous expressivity, flawless intonation, and amazing vocal technique. So convincing was their performance that it was not difficult at all to suspend disbelief… This is a highly recommended DVD that should prove attractive to both opera lovers and early music devotees.

William E. Grim Opera Today (USA) Aug 2009

John La Bouchardière’s adaptation… had a poignancy that only those who have married their childhood sweetheart and lived happily ever after would fail to recognise…  Shot in a series of unremarkable flats and streets, at restaurant tables and in toilet cubicles, with mascara, snot, baby bellies, wrinkles, receding hairlines and all the accoutrements of experience exposed, this was an exceptionally well-crafted, thoughtful film, beautifully sung and very bravely acted.

Anna Picard Independent on Sunday (UK) Jan 2009

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This is a remarkable way of realizing a book of madrigals that was never conceived to be heard this way. It’s highly successful, whether you watch with the English subtitles on or off. Not a word is spoken, for apart from ambient sound there is nothing to be heard but the singing, interrupted only by the briefest of pauses. The emotional expression on all the faces is convincing, an aspect that could easily have spoiled the effect. Repeated viewing will certainly reveal overlooked details, as the viewer becomes familiar with the dozen personalities that pop up in succession with some rapidity. Remember, six amorous breakups are unfolding simultaneously, the emotions and meanings of the madrigals applying equally to all of them. The production was made jointly for five national television systems and Naxos, and it has been broadcast since last autumn. This is a remarkably original conception, carried out with astonishing success. I have never realized the meaning of a set of madrigals as clearly as I did here.

J. F. Weber Fanfare (USA) July/August 2008

Fantastic! I wish the word “brilliant” had not been so overused, so that I could summon it to praise this film. And, yes, “film” is the right word. John La Bouchardière, a noted opera director, has created this film (“The Full Monteverdi”) that winds in with the words and music of Monteverdi’s wonderful madrigals the way that they intertwine with each other and the result is superlative…

The musical component here could compete with the best recordings made, but there is no competition for what this is: a stroke of genius that defines a genre, something that sets a standard for what can be done. This is a way to open the treasures of this great music to our literal-minded and lazy age. Like the Beethoven description of one of his sonatas as for amateurs and connoisseurs, this is a production that can reach everyone willing to watch and listen. Those who already know and love this music will get new insights into it from La Bouchardière’s stagings why is this one a quarrel? why is there a baby in that one?ˆwhile newcomers will be carried along by the acting (great from all concerned), the drama, the settings, and the underlying stories as they follow the words with the unobtrusive subtitles (yes, you can turn them off) and let the music play on their hearts….

If you love Monteverdi, get this. If you think you might like his music, get it. If you’ve tried to listen to Monteverdi, but haven’t quite managed to get into it, get it. If you’ve never heard Monteverdi, get it. Memo to Naxos, La Bouchardière, and Fagiolini: there are seven other books of Monteverdi madrigals sitting there, waiting for you. Get to work!

Chawkin American Record Guide (US) May/June 2008

La Bouchardière not only brings the action into the 21st century, he also takes the art of Monteverdi and injects it with a dose of reality which allows us very easily and with irreversible fascination into the plots. This union of great art and real life is the key to the immense empathy of The Full Monteverdi with any sort of public… The high musical quality is of the same level as the exceptional direction. A musical and cinematic masterpiece.

João Marcos Coelho Estadao (Brazil) May 2008

The idea is actually very simple: you take Monteverdi’s Fourth Book of Madrigals (1603) and transplant them to a modern setting. But like most simple ideas it takes a special imagination to come up with it in the first place, and full credit to director John La Bouchardière for that moment of genius. The setting is a restaurant: the six voices of I Fagiolini sing the Monteverdi (wonderfully) as six actors mime the disintegration of their love affairs to their partners, flashbacks later revealing how they came to be there in the first place. What La Bouchardière has done is to add a further layer of meaning to the music: already painfully beautiful, it now takes on a searing intensity – I watched it with tears running down my cheeks.

Martin Anderson Klassisk (Norway) May 2008


“La Bouchardière’s concept finds its ideal realisation in film. Brilliant.”

Gerhard Persché, Fono Forum, Sternes des Monats (Star of the month) March 2008


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“This brilliant film… is superbly acted, beautifully sung

…almost unbearably moving. Bravos all round.”

Recommended, Gramophone April 2008

“The eye cannot tear itself away from these admirably constructed images and subtle glances… The tour de force of this film is to have given a dramatic coherence and dramatic tension to twenty madrigals, surely the most unlikely cinematic material. The universal theme of separation is ripe for a contemporary reading but it takes La Bouchardière’s talent, leaning towards cinéma vérité, the typically British standard of I Fagiolini’s acting and the musicianship of the whole team to convince and captivate.”

Philippe Venturini Le Monde de la musique, Choc du mois March 2008

“…the film’s raw impact comes from its unflinching exposure of the effects on flawed, vulnerable human beings of these devastating emotional rifts… I Fagiolini’s performances are peerless.”

Graeme Kay Choir & Organ, March 2008

“This brilliant film… sung with consummate artistry… The passion in the music is tellingly matched by the suffering on the faces of the characters. The film demands to be seen; but I won’t be visiting that restaurant in a hurry.”

Richard Lawrence Classic FM Magazine, March 2008


“a brilliant film… a searing dramatisation of the 17th-century Italian’s madrigals.”

Richard Morrison The Times, 01 Dec 2007

Click here for the full article on York Early Music Festival

“…this is a fascinating and well-produced lesson in cross-genre art.”

HD MUSO, Dec 2007

“After an hour, the pun in the title was vindicated: this was a raw, emotional striptease… the camera can follow the acrimonious lovers into bedrooms and bathrooms and there is a terrible truthfulness to its documentation of their misery.”

Peter Conrad The Observer, Nov 2007

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Bouchardière’s verité-style direction, reminiscent of Kieslowski in its bold opening silence and unrelenting in emotional delivery, has the makings of an award winner”

Andrew Stewart Early Music Review, Nov 2007

“This remarkable, intricately constructed film is aesthetically beautiful in every aspect: masterfully shot, sensitively arranged images, utterly glorious singing, impressive operatic acting, and a terrifyingly involving narrative flow. This encounter between yesterday’s music and today’s medium can’t help but deliver Monteverdi’s masterpieces to a new and deeply appreciative audience in a thoroughly spectacular fashion.”

Edward Lewis Classical Source, Oct 2007

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“…the film “The Full Monteverdi” based on the staggeringly inventive collaboration between opera director John La Bouchardiere and the vocal group I Fagiolini. I know that I was not alone in pleading for I Fagiolini’s live performance to be filmed while the original cast could be assembled, and the result is very impressive, although very different in mood from the vivid personal experience of the live event. The film follows the same structure as the live show, with six couples experiencing a range of highly emotional encounters, but places them in more homely settings, following them back from the opening restaurant setting to their homes and, occasionally, the homes of their other lovers. The tricky job now is to ensure that this important film is made available on a mainstream TV channel at a sensible time of day.”

Andre Benson-Wilson Early Music Review, Dec 07

“Outstanding directing”

Michael Bordt Klassisk (Germany)

Anna Crookes

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