Although Antonio Vivaldi is perhaps best-known now for his Four Seasons string concertos, it was the success of his first opera Ottone in Villa, which catapulted him into the heart of the opera world and turned him into an overnight sensation.

Set in the secluded gardens of a Roman Emperor’s villa, Ottone in Villa, which comes to the Barbican at the end of May, is as full of flirtation and intrigue, mistaken identity and cross-dressing, as it is with powerful, energetic arias.

It may have been Vivaldi’s first foray into opera, but its enormous success also marked a turning point in his career, thrusting him into the forefront of 18th Century Italian opera and causing him to immerse himself in the opera world in the dual role of composer and impresario.

Although he is perhaps now more commonly associated with his contribution to instrumental repertoire, not least in the form of his concertos, at the time he was one of the most exciting and controversial names in opera.

Conducted by Giovanni Antonini and led by a cast made up of some of the world’s finest baroque performers, including Sonia Prina, Veronica Cangemi and rising star Julia Lezhneva, the acclaimed ensemble Il Giardino Armonico, brings Ottone in Villa to the Barbican on Friday 21 May.

Tickets are available through the Barbican Box Office: 0845 120 7550 and online at