The Italian harpsichordist and conductor, Sergio Vartolo, studied music, organ and harpsichord, at the Conservatorio of Bologna and graduated at the University of the same city.
Sergio Vartolo has been active since 1970 throughout Europe as a harpsichordist, organist, conductor, opea (stage) director, singer, and continuo player. Very early on he was even a counter-tenor working with René Clemencic and the Clemencic Consort.
Despite his wide travels, Serge Vartolo has remained based in his hometown of Bologna, although he teaches harpsichord at the Conservatory in Mantua. Since 1996 he has also served as maestro de capella at the Basilica de San Petronio in Bologna.
The Cappella Musicale di San Petronio di Bologna (officially know as the Cappella Musicale Arcivescovile di S. Petronio), was founded in 1436 by a papal bull from Eugenio IV. It is considered by many musicologists to be amongst the most prestigious musical institutions in Italy and one of the most productive artistic centres in the whole history of music.
Sergio Vartolo has an impressive catalog of recordings stretching back into the 1970's, his solo recordings of the music of Girolamo Frescobaldi are frequently singled out for mention, as is his Harmonia Mundi disc Luzzaschi: Concerto delle Dame di Ferrara. Although he has recorded for Bongiovanni, Tactus, Fonit Cetra, and Stradivarius, the bulk of his recorded work has been for the Naxos label. For Naxos, Vartolo has recorded extensive surveys of works by Claudio Monteverdi, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, and Trabaci, in addition to acclaimed single discs devoted to Michelangelo Rossi and Perti. Sergio Vartolo with the Cappella Musicale di San Petronio di Bologna have recorded for Naxos Cavalieri, Palestrina, Perti and two volumes of Baroque laments. In addition, Vartolo has recorded Monteverdi's smaller-scale works: the Canzonette (with Patricia Vaccari) and the same composer's delightful Scherzi Musicali A Tre Voci.
His recordings have been awarded the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik (Frescobaldi Toccatas), the Choc award by Monde de la Musique (Frescobaldi Capriccios) and the Diapason d'Or (Luzzaschi Madrigals). The Early Music Review described Sergio Vartolo's Naxos recording of Monteverdi's Ballo Delle Ingrate and Tancredi e Clorinda as being " among the most convincing performance of these works I have heard" whilst a warm and intimate version of L'Orfeo was assessed by Fanfare thus: "The singers are excellent and integrated into a carefully prepared ensemble...You will not do much better at triple the price". Vartolo and Cappella Musicale di San Petronio di Bologna have been particularly successful with Vecchi's L'Amfiparnaso: "There is plenty of gusto here, coupled with a stylish command of the madrigal settings...I can thoroughly recommend it..." (Early Music Review) and with three large works by Monteverdi.