The Concerto Italiano is a Baroque music group consisting of both a vocal and orchestral ensemble. For the first decade of its existence it was a vocal group only, known for performances of Monteverdi madrigals, and operas and oratorios by Handel, A. Scarlatti, and other Baroque composers. After the orchestral arm of Concerto Italiano was founded, the ensemble began taking particular interest in the instrumental and operatic works of Vivaldi. In the new century, in fact, Concerto Italiano has been engaged in a massive project with the label Naïve to record all the operas and concertos of Vivaldi. But the ensemble has also devoted much time to the works of J.S. Bach, Pergolesi, and lesser-knowns like Legrenzi and Cavalli. On rare occasions the group has ventured beyond Baroque repertory, most notably in an acclaimed 2001 recording of Rossini arias, with soprano María Bayo. Most of the group's recordings have been released by Naïve and its subsidiary Opus 111, although some of the older recordings are available on Brilliant Classics.
The Concerto Italiano was founded in 1984 by harpsichordist Rinaldo Alessandrini. The group gave its debut concert in Rome in 1984 in a performance of Francesco Cavalli's opera La Calisto, under the direction of Alessandrini, who has served as the group's music director since its founding. For its first decade the group gradually built up a reputation in Europe as one of Italy's finest Baroque vocal ensembles. It drew broad international notice for a recording of Monteverdi's Fourth Book of Madrigals, which received a 1994 Gramophone award, the first of four. The following year Alessandrini formed the orchestral ensemble.
In 1997 the vocal ensemble debuted in Japan, drawing lavish reviews. The orchestral ensemble drew equally enthusiastic response for its American debut in 1999 at Lincoln Center. That tour also included concerts in South America, Japan, and parts of Europe.
In 2000 the group drew acclaim for its J.S. Bach performances at the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall. The ensemble received three additional Gramophone awards in 1998, 2002, and 2004, respectively, the first for a CD of Monteverdi's Eighth Book of Madrigals, the next for a disc of Marenzio madrigals, and the final for a Vivaldi collection, Vespri Solenni per la Festa dell'Assunzione di Maria Vergine, all issued on Naïve/Opus 111. Among the later recordings is the 2009 Naïve disc of Handel arias with singers Lorenzo Regazzo and Gemma Bertagnolli.