Giovanni Antonini

Conductor, Il Giardino Armonico
Artistic Director, Wratislavia Cantans Festival
Principal Guest Conductor, Kammerorchester Basel
Principal Guest Conductor, Orchestra Mozarteum Salzburg

Photo credit: Paolo Morello


Born in Milan, Giovanni studied at the Civica Scuola di Musica and at the Centre de Musique Ancienne in Geneva. He is a founder member of the Baroque ensemble “Il Giardino Armonico”, which he has led since 1989. With this ensemble, he has appeared as conductor and soloist on the recorder and Baroque transverse flute in Europe, United States, Canada, South America, Australia, Japan and Malaysia. He is Artistic Director of the Wratislavia Cantans Festival in Poland and Principal Guest Conductor of the Mozarteum Orchester and Kammerorchester Basel.

He has performed with many prestigious artists including Cecilia Bartoli, Isabel Faust, Viktoria Mullova, Giuliano Carmignola, Giovanni Sollima, Sol Gabetta, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Sumi Jo, Kristian Bezuidenhout and Emmanuel Pahud. Renowned for his refined and innovative interpretation of the classical and baroque repertoire, Antonini is also a regular guest with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Concertgebouworkest, Tonhalle Orchester, Mozarteum Orchester, Orquesta Nacional de España and Leipzig Gewandhausorchester.

His opera productions have included Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Handel’s Alcina at Teatro alla Scala in Milano and Handel’s Giulio Cesare with Cecilia Bartoli. In 2013 he conducted Bellini’s Norma at Salzburg festival, reprised in summer and autumn 2015 and in Monte Carlo in February 2016. In 2018 he returns to Zurich Opera to conduct Idomeneo. In the 2017-18 season, performances also include return visits to Kozerthaus Orchester Berlin, Tonhalle Orchester Zurich, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala and Symphonieorchester und Chor des Bayersichen Rundfunks, and debuts with Chicago Symphony and Kammerakademie Potsdam.

With Il Giardino Armonico, Antonini has recorded numerous CDs of instrumental works by Vivaldi as part of his wider recorded repertoire of seventeenth and eighteenth century Italian composers, J.S. Bach (Brandenburg Concertos) and Biber and Locke for Teldec. With Naïve he recorded Vivaldi’s opera Ottone in Villa, and in the recent years he has been recording with Il Giardino Armonico for Decca, including Alleluia with Julia Lezhneva. With the Kammerorchester Basel he has recorded Beethoven Symphonies and most recently a disc of flute concertos with Emmanuel Pahud entitled Revolution. In 2013 he conducted a recording of Bellini’s Norma for Decca in collaboration with Orchestra La Scintilla.

Antonini is the artistic director of the Haydn 2032 project, created to realise a vision to record and perform with Il Giardino Amonico and Kammerochester Basel, the complete symphonies of Joseph Haydn by the 300th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Volumes 1-4 have been released on the Alpha Classics label with the 5th; L’Homme de Génie  to be released later in 2017.


Performance Schedule

From The Green Room


  • 18 Jan 18 L'Homme de génie: Haydn Kammerorcheter Basel
    Vol 5, Haydn 2032
    More info  

    “The suave No. 81 comes off particularly well, while No. 80, one of Haydn’s most eccentric creations, is played straight and comes of all the more witty for it…. This is another winning entry into Antonini’s Haydn discography… in which direction will this compelling and tantalising slow-burn series turn next?”
    Gramophone Magazine, Jan 2018

  • 08 May 14 Il Giardino Armonico Concert
    Barbican, 7 May 2014
    More info  

    “From many points of view, Antonini and his historically informed ensemble matched her approach to a nicety; their playing offered character without excess, and their tone substance without heaviness. All their accompaniments were vividly sketched, though they really came into their own in two concerti grossi by Handel and another by his London-based Italian colleague, Francesco Geminiani.”
    The Guardian

  • 19 May 13 Bellini Norma, Salzburg Whitsun Festival
    Orchestra La Scintilla
    More info  

    “Also fundamental to the success of the evening was Giovanni Antonini’s conducting and the playing by La Scintilla, the period instrument orchestra of the Zurich Opera House. Although one or two of Mr. Antonini’s tempos were on the brisk side, he dealt ably with Bellini’s long-spanned melodies and scrubbed the opera clean of unwanted performance traditions dating from a later time. In addition to contributing to an ideal balance between stage and pit, the period instruments gave the music the sonic vitality that they more familiarly impart to 18th-century music.”
    New York Times 21 May 2013

    “To add to the historical authenticity, the Italian conductor, Giovanni Antonini, directed the Orchestra La Scintilla, the period instrument orchestra of the Zurich Opera. He was most sympathetic to the soloists and the outstanding choir, the Coro della Radiotelevisione Svizzera.”
    Jerusalem Post 6 June 2013

  • 28 Feb 13 Concert 27 February 2013
    Concertgebouw Orkest
    More info  

    “Although the programme was standard 18th Century repertoire, Antonini manages to avoid any monotony. It was a pleasant performance with careful articulation, transparency, sound changes and dynamic contrasts.”
    NRC Handelsblad, 28 February 2013

  • 25 Jun 12 Concert 20 June 2012
    Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse
    More info  

    “His compelling momentum, the malleable leadership, the colours in the orchestra, the delicate key changes, the irrepressible rhythm, all contributed to a most sensual interpretation [Mozart Symphony No 25].”
    Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse. Utmisol, 25 June 2012

  • 18 Mar 11 Concert 18 March 2011
    Gewandhaus Zu Leipzig
    More info  

    “The title La Passione [Symphony in F minor /Haydn] was taken literally by the Gewandhaus Orchestra under Giovanni Antonini: Various forms of passion were certainly experienced by the audience….In the presto one last gasp: Giovanni Antonini energetically built up the storm. He coaxed the orchestra’s threatening swelling tremolos, then slowed down again in the melancholy triumphs in the fight against the awesome drama.”
    Gewandhaus Zu Leipzig, Leipziger Volkszeitung, 21 March 2011

  • 11 Mar 11 Concert 11 March 2011
    Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse
    More info  

    “Leading the Orchestre national du Capitole, the Italian conducted Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven with real energy, clarity and colour…the Beethoven was exhiliarating”
    La Dépêche du Midi

  • 15 Aug 10 Concert 13 August 2010
    More info  

    “Antonini’s Beethoven is predictably lithe and tangy, its uniqueness discernable. To the standard euphoria and exhilaration, he adds wonderment and gratitude.”
    The Independent, 15 August 2010

  • 22 May 10 Concert 21 May 2010
    Il Giardino Armonico
    More info  

    “The playing from Il Giardino Armonico, under Giovanni Antonini, was stylish, quite impeccable.”
    Vivaldi Ottone in Villa

    The Guardian May 2010