Italian Fire - English Ice

I Fagiolini

Director - Robert Hollingworth

England and Italy at the turn of the 16th century.: the greatest a cappella music ever written.

While Monteverdi perfects the passionate miniature in Mantua and Venice and Gesualdo desperately tries to outdo… well, everyone, in London the younger English composers, inspired by William Byrd, turn to melancholy.

I Fagiolini and Robert Hollingworth have a life-long love affair with Monteverdi: five CDs, one major film, countless broadcasts and YouTube videos, 88 performances of the immersive project - The Full Monteverdi.  Reaching their 40th anniversary in 2026, the group attempts to sum up what they’ve learnt along the way.  

At the same time, their understanding of their own English repertoire, the plangency, the melancholy expressed through dissonance (which Monteverdi also loved) shines a spotlight on this very English melancholy.

Is it really Italian Fire and English Ice? 

Or does each exist in the other?


seven singers


Libby Percival


Wilbye – Draw on, sweet night   

Sweet honey-sucking bees   

Weelkes – Noel adieu thou court’s delight   

Thule, the period of cosmography   

Tomkins – Music Divine

Too much I once lamented   

Monteverdi – Cruda Amarilli   

Lamento d’Arianna   Sfogava con le stelle   

Rimanti in pace - and more

Gesualdo – Mercé grido piangendo   

Asciugate i begli occhi


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