Founded in 1987 by Antonio Florio, the ensemble I Turchini is made up of instrumentalists and singers living and working in Naples who specialize in the performance of Neapolitan music from the 17th and 18th centuries and in the rediscovery of music by highly-gifted composers who are now largely unknown. The unique programmes and rigorous approach to Baroque performing practices make I Turchini one of the most interesting ensembles in current European musical life.
The ensemble has been invited to take part in a large number of musical events all across Europe, such as at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia of Rome, the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, the Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona, the Philharmonie in Berlin, the Konzerthaus in Vienna, the Teatro Lope de Vega in Sevilla and the Théâtre de La Monnaie in Brussels. Likewise, I Turchini has been very active in participating in festivals and additionally has also been the ensemble-in-residence at the Centre Lyrique Clermont-Auvergne in France.
Recent productions have included Il disperato innocente by Francesco Boerio, Dido and Aeneas and The Fairy Queen by Henry Purcell, Festa napoletana, La Statira by Francesco Cavalli, Motezuma by Francesco De Majo, La Partenope by Leonardo Vinci, La finta giardiniera of Pasquale Anfossi, L’Ottavia restituita al trono by Domenico Scarlatti, La Salustia by GB Pergolesi and Aci, Galatea e Polifemo by Handel.
The members of I Turchini were keenly involved in a weeklong series of concerts devoted to Neapolitan music organized by the Spanish Ministerio de Cultura. Tours in recent years have included giving concerts in China, Japan, and Portugal and in the United States (in the course of which the orchestra performed in New York and Washington). The ensemble was chosen to inaugurate the concert season 2007-08 for Radio3 of the RAI in Italy with a performance of the programme “Angeli e Demoni” from the Cappella Paolina of the Palazzo del Quirinale in Roma.
The ensemble has made recordings for Radio France, the BBC, and Belgian, Spanish, German and Austrian radios. In 1998 I Turchini was featured in a documentary realized by Belgian television and in a film entirely devoted to opera buffa for the French-German company ARTE (a production which went on to win an award from UNESCO).
Prior to embarking on a new level of recording activity with Glossa the ensemble had made a significant number of discs devoted to the Neapolitan Baroque (many of them receiving awards from the international critics) for labels such as Opus 111 and Eloquentia in France. In addition to the new recordings now being made, earlier releases (which came out on the Symphonia label) will also be issued by Glossa.
In 2008 the ensemble, along with Antonio Florio, was awarded the Premio Napoli in the section “eccellenze nascoste”.
Antonio Florio was born in Bari, where he studied classical music, gaining his diploma in cello, piano and composition there under the direction of Nino Rota, before going on to study early instruments and Baroque performing practice. In 1987 he founded the ensemble (which is now called) I Turchini, and from that point on has been devoting himself to the giving of concerts and pursuing his musicological research.
Above all his explorations have been covering the repertory of 17th and 18th century Neapolitan music, reviving masterpieces which had never appeared in print, prior to directing them in major theatres and opera houses across Europe. Some examples of such rediscoveries include La colomba ferita (1670),Il schiavo di sua moglie (1671) and Stellidaura vendicante (1674), all by Francesco Provenzale, Il disperato innocente by Francesco Boerio (1673), La finta cameriera by Gaetano Latilla (1673), Li zite ’ngalera by Leonardo Vinci (1722), Pulcinella vendicato by Giovanni Paisiello (1767), La Statira by Francesco Cavalli (in the Neapolitan 1666 edition) and Motezuma by Francesco De Majo (1765).
Antonio Florio is equally active as a teacher: he has given seminars and master classes on Baroque vocal and chamber music for the Centre de Musique Baroque, Versailles, the Fondation Royaumont and for the Toulouse Conservatoire. He also holds the chair in Musica da camera at the Conservatorio San Pietro a Majella in Naples where he gives a university course in baroque style and repertoire.
In recent years his performing activities have included directing a production of La Partenope by Leonardo Vinci, which visited the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples as well as opera houses and auditoria in Spain (Ponferrada, León, Sevilla, La Coruña, Santander and Murcia) and which was awarded with the Premio Oviedo for the Best Theatrical Production.
Florio has also been involved in a revival of La finta giardiniera by Pasquale Anfossi in both concert and staged performances (along with an international workshop about the work). In 2006 he conducted I Turchini in Festa Napoletana, first at the prestigious festival Anima Mundi in Pisa and then on a tour to China for performances in four different venues. In the same year he was awarded the First Prize in the Mousiké Festival of Early Music in the Mediterranean in Bari. Florio directed performances of the opera Alidoro by Leonardo Leo at the Teatro Mercadante in Naples and at the Teatro Valli, Reggio Emilia (and from the latter a DVD was recorded which went on to receive a Diapason d’Or and the Orphée d’or from the Académie du disque lyrique in Paris). He has recently received two other prestigious awards: at the 2008 Premios Líricos Teatro Campoamor in Oviedo in Spain he was fêted for Best Musical Direction for the first modern performance of the opera L’Ottavia restituita al trono by Domenico Scarlatti (which had been performed in San Sebastián in August 2007). In October of that year, along with I Turchini, he was awarded the Premio Napoli in the section “eccellenze nascoste” of the city. He has participated in the Festival MITO with a concert version of Aci, Galatea e Polifemo by Handel at the Teatro dell’Arte di Milano. This was followed in June 2009 with a staged version, directed by Davide Livermore, at the Teatro Regio di Torino. A substantial tour of Italy has seen Florio directing Pergolesi’s Stabat mater and more recently he has conducted Orfeo e Euridice by JJ Fux at the Konzerthaus in Vienna.