Founded in Italy in 1992 by Alan Curtis, one of the most acclaimed specialists in the interpretation of pre-romantic music, Il Complesso Barocco (= ICB), has become a renowned international Baroque orchestra with a focus on Italian Baroque opera and oratorio. One of their first important collaborations was with the film director Werner Herzog, who chose the ensemble as protagonist in the film Morte a cinque voci (Prix Italia 1996 and Premio Rembrandt, Amsterdam 1996) dedicated to the composer Carlo Gesualdo. Since then, their high standard for interpretation, intonation and stylistic accuracy has led to their being requested in the most important concert venues and festivals in Europe and America.
Their rich discography was at first devoted to the late madrigal repertory: Michelangelo Rossi’s Primo Libro di Madrigali (called 'ravishingly beautiful' by The Guardian, and awarded the Preis der Deutsche Schallplattenkritik and the 'Antonio Vivaldi' International Recording Prize), vocal works by Antonio Lotti, the complete duets and selected madrigals by Monteverdi (Diapason d'Or de l'Eté, 1998), Guarini’s Pastor Fido cycle as set to music by Sigismondo d’India, Monteverdi and Marenzio and Carlo Gesualdo’s complete Libro Sesto delli Madrigali. A variety of oratorios followed: Alessandro Stradella’s Susanna, Benedetto Ferrari’s Il Sansone (Diapason d’or, 2000), Pietro Andrea Ziani’s Assalonne punito (Choc de la Musique) and Francesco Bartolomeo Conti’s David (to appear in 2007). They have also recorded, for Virgin Classics, Domenico Scarlatti’s Lettere amorose (a series of three cantatas) along with harpsichord sonatas and operatic duets with Anna Bonitatibus and Patrizia Ciofi. There followed a selection of George Frideric Handel’s operatic duets, "Amore e gelosia", for Virgin with Ciofi and Joyce DiDonato as well as the best-selling Maga abbandonata for BMG with Maite Beaumont and Simone Kermes.
Alan Curtis, together with Il Complesso Barocco, has also played a fundamental role in the modern revival of Baroque operas, especially those of Monteverdi, A. Vivaldi and G.F. Handel. Admeto, the first G.F. Handel opera to be revived with original instruments, including theorbo, was conducted by Alan Curtis in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in 1977 at which time it was recorded by EMI and widely praised; it has recently been reissued in CD by Virgin. In the present century, their G.F. Handel recordings have included Rodrigo (awarded the Premio Internazionale del Disco ''Antonio Vivaldi' 2000), Arminio (International Handel Recording Prize 2002), Deidamia (Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik 2003 and International Handel Recording Prize 2004), Lotario (for BMG), Rodelinda (for Deutsche Gramophon-Archiv), Radamisto (International Handel Recording Prize 2005), and, just released, Fernando re di Castiglia (Sosarme) and Floridante. Future releases will include Tolomeo, Alcina, Ezio, etc. They have also recorded A. Vivaldi’s Giustino, which Alan Curtis was the first to revive: in the Palladian Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, in the Opéra Royal in Versailles, La Fenice in Venice, and in Houston, Buenos Aires, Rotterdam, Solothurn, etc. The same composer’s recently re-discovered masterpiece Motezuma was given its world premiere recording (DGG-Archiv) to great acclaim, and has led to an international tour, both in concert and in a production (Lisbon, Ferrara, etc.) by Stefano Vizioli in 2007-2008. A. Vivaldi’s Ercole su’l Termodonte, in a reconstruction by Alessandro Ciccolini, was also given its world premiere by Il Complesso Barocco at the Spoleto Festival and will appear on DVD (Dynamic) in April, 2007.
Future projects include the world premiere stage production and recording of Domenico Scarlatti’s Tolomeo e Alessandro, a new production of G.F. Handel’s Alcina for the 50th anniversary of the Spoleto Festival with stage director and designer John Pascoe, a tour of Spain with Maite Beaumont, and a series of three Gluck operas for Poissy. From the season 2007-2008 the orchestra will be in residence in the Poissy Theatre.