Death of Monteverdi pioneer, 58

Death of Monteverdi pioneer, 58


norman lebrecht

August 31, 2020

The Italian conductor and counter-tenor Claudio Cavina has died at 58, four years after suffering a stroke.

Co-founder of the La Venexiana ensemble, he performed with many early music groups. His own recordings appears on the on the Opus 111, Cantus and Glossa labels, notably nine books of Monteverdi madrigals and three operas.

On Christmas Eve 2016 he suffered a stroke at home. Living alone, it was days before he was found and the effects proved irreversible.


  • Doc Martin says:

    Tragic news. His L’Orfeo is superb. I wonder whether his GP would have previously checked him over he must have had an undiagnosed condition. Here is a brief guide to the main types of stoke.

    Anyone at risk living alone needs to have a first responder number or be on a cardiac at risk line. See your GP and have a check over if you have a family history of stroke etc.

  • MezzoLover says:

    This is sad beyond words.

    Claudio Cavina is one of my musical heroes for being a champion of operas by Monteverdi and Francesco Cavalli.

    Contrary to what NL stated in the headline, I do not consider him a Monteverdi pioneer (that would be Raymond Leppard, Jürgen Jürgens, Edwin Loehrer and, before WWII, Nadia Boulanger). However he is without a doubt one of the best modern interpreters of Italian early music. His work (with the ensemble he found, La Venexiana) is invariably distinguished by thoughtful restraint, impeccable taste, and above all a cool, elegant sensuality that sets him apart from some of his more flamboyant and better known colleagues. It was through his many recordings that I came to know and love the fabulous soprano voice of Roberta Mameli, and his recording of Cavalli’s Artemisia has rarely left my CD player ever since I acquired it years ago.

    RIP, Maestro Cavina.

  • gareth says:

    RIP, and thanks for his legacy of fine recordings. Cavina’s “trilogy” of Monteverdi operas on Glossa will probably remain my go-to sets of those works, and his survey of the madrigals are second to none.

  • Michael in Missouri says:

    No one commenting here, strangely, so let me say that Cavina’s Monteverdi recordings for Glossa are brilliant. RIP.

    • Doc Martin says:

      Not quite correct. I was there first, see RE: Stroke issues. Italy does not seem to have a Cardiac/First Responder service!

  • Nick says:

    Tragic news really. A wonderful musician. R.I.P.

  • Edgar Self says:

    A great loss particularly in his narrow specialist field.

    MezzoLover reassures me by supplying the expected name Boulanger after “Monteverdi pioneer”. I will add another: Hugues Cuenod, who consented to die only after reaching the Methusalahan age of 106. He also sang Ccavalli and, most notably, Francois Couperin le Grand’s “Lecons de Tenebris”.

    . Venice is the right place for music they championed and not, with its Mediterranean diet, for strokes of any kind. The Council of Trent should have forbidden them.

  • Springbeg says:

    Tragic news and all the more distressing to learn that he was clearly unable to seek help. As others have observed, his recorded legacy, particularly in Monteverdi, secures his status as a very great interpretive artist.