The care for historical performance practice has been a tradition at the Zurich Opera House for many decades. In the seventies, Nikolaus Harnoncourt first made a furore in the field of early music with his Monteverdi cycle; In the eighties, he continued his work at the Zurich Opera House together with the director, Jean Pierre Ponnelle, with Mozart (including Idomeneo, Lucio Silla, The Abduction from the Seraglio, Così fan tutte, The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro). Harnoncourt did further pioneering work and the musicians of the Orchestra of the Zurich Opera House adapted their playing technique to the latest findings in historical performance practice.

This continuum formed the orchestra of the opera, today's Philharmonia Zürich, an independent ensemble of first-class specialized musicians, which were able to create an excellent reputation. The spark that ignited the enthusiasm for new early music gave the ensemble its name: officially founded in 1998, the ensemble called itself La Scintilla - The Spark.

In the years that followed, performances with luminaries like Nikolaus Harnoncourt, William Christie, Mark Minkowski, Reinhard Goebel, Giuliano Carmignola, Giovanni Antonini, and Ottavio Dantone were so successful that the Zurich Opera House let the ensemble play all the baroque operas and more and more works from the classical period.

Outside of the opera house La Scintilla performs regularly in the large concert halls and with renowned soloists, instrumentalists and singers like Cecilia Bartoli, Rolando Villazon, Andreas Scholl and others.

In 2014, the orchestra received the Echo Klassik Music Award in the category "Opera Recording of the Year" (19th century) for its recording of Norma with Giovanni Antonini and Cecilia Bartoli. Besides that, Mozart arias with Juan Diego Florez, Norma and La sonnambula with Cecilia Bartoli, Orlando and Iphigénie en Tauride with William Christie and Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria with Nikolaus Harnoncourt appeared amongst others on CD and DVD.

In the season 2018/19 La Scintilla designes the La Scintilla series of four concerts in close collaboration with the violinist and conductor Riccardo Minasi. The musical spectrum spans from the early symphonic beginnings in Italy to the great masters of baroque, Georg Friedrich Händel and Johann Sebastian Bach to the sounds of the early Giuseppe Verdi.

RICCARDO MINASI | künstlerischer Leiter

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Concert masters

Ada Pesch has been principal concertmaster of the Zurich Opera House Orchestra since 1990. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, she began playing the violin at age six and subsequently went on to study with world-reknowned pedagog Josef Gingold at the University of Indiana. During this time she also performed in masterclasses with Arthur Grumiaux and Gyorgy Sebök. In 1984 Ada Pesch moved to Europe to become concertmaster with the Hof Symphony Orchestra, and in 1990 was named first concertmaster of the Orchestra of the Zürich Opera House, working with conductors such as Ricardo Chailly, Christoph von Dohnanyi, John Eliot Gardiner and Franz Welser-Möst.
She is founding member and concertmaster of "Orchestra La Scintilla," the period-instrument ensemble of the Zürich Opera House with whom she regularly performs and records with early music pioneers including Nikolaus Harnoncourt, William Christie and Marc Minkowski. In fall of 2005 she led the "Orchestra La Scintilla of Zürich Opera" on a highly successful North American and european tour with Cecilia Bartoli.
Ada Pesch has appeared as guest concertmaster with "Les Arts Florissants" (William Christie) and "Les Musiciens du Louvre" (Marc Minkowski) for concerts, live radio broadcasts and CD recordings. Her chamber music collaborations are many and varied, including projects with Cecilia Bartoli in Luzern and Salzburg Festivals. She is also director of the Baroque Music Festival in Ernen, Switzerland, which she founded in 2004.

Hanna Weinmeister was born in Salzburg. She studied the violin with Bruno Steinschaden in Salzburg, Gerhard Schulz in Vienna, Zachar Bron in Lübeck, and won prizes in numerous international competitions including the Salzburg International Mozart Competition (1994), Jacques Thibaud Competition (1995), and the Parkhouse Award in London (1995).
Following her studies, she was assistant leader of the English Chamber Orchestra in London, and has been first concertmaster at Zurich Opera House since 1998.
Alongside orchestral playing, she is also in demand as a soloist and chamber musician, performing in Europe, Asia and the USA.
A member of the Tetzlaff Quartet the Konzerthaus Octet, the Krenek Ensemble and the Trio Weinmeister, she has appeared as a guest at the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Salzburg Festival, the Ittinger Pfingstkonzerte, the Schwarzenberg Schubertiade, the Spannungen Festival in Heimbach, and the Weimar Kunstfest.

CD recordings include Ernst Krenek's first violin concerto, Brahms's Double Concerto, and quartets by Sibelius, Alban Berg, Schoenberg and Fanny Mendelssohn.
She is currently deeply occupied with the baroque violin and period performance, inspired by her work with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Giovanni Antonini at Zurich Opera House. She has been a member of Orchestra La Scintilla since 2014.

Monika Baer studied with Robert Zimansky at the Conservatoire de Musique in Geneva, from which she graduated with a soloist diploma. Her interest in the baroque violin already began in her student years, and she went on to pursue postgraduate study with John Holloway at the Hochschule für Musik in Dresden. During years spent as an interim member of the first violin section in Zurich Opera Orchestra, she became familiar with the working practices of Nikolaus Harnoncourt, John Eliot Gardiner, William Christie and Marc Minkowski.
From 1999-2005 Monika was concertmaster of Kammerorchester Basel. There she worked regularly with musical personalities like Christopher Hogwood, Giovanni Antonini and Giuliano Carmignola, and made numerous CD recordings.
Alongside her active chamber music career, she performs in festivals including the Ludwigsburger Festspielen, the Erner Barockmusikwochen and Boswiler Sommer.
As a founder member of Orchestra La Scintilla, she accompanies Cecilia Bartoli in Europe and America's most prestigious concert halls.
Monika lives in Zurich where she is a professor of baroque violin and chamber music at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste. She is also in demand as a chamber music partner and concertmaster by various ensembles. Furthermore, she spent 12 years on the Stadt Zurich Music Commission, was a committee member of the Forum Alte Musik Zürich, and appeared regularly as an expert on the radio programme Diskothek im 2 on SRF2.


Jonathan Allen
Yuko Arakaki
Susanne von Baussnern
Cornelia Brandis
Franziska Eichenberger
Janet van Hasselt
Juliana Georgieva
Lisa Gustafson
Ulrike Jacoby
Daniel Kagerer
Anahit Kurtikyan
Maya Kadosh
Anne-Frédérique Léchaire
Ursula Meienberg
Seraina Pfenniger
Regula Schär
Olivia Schenkel
Mikolaj Tomaszewski
Fanny Tschanz


Karen Forster-Opgenorth
Rumjana Naydenova
Nada Anderwert
Maria Clément
Stella Mahrenholz
Florian Mohr
Natalia Mosca
Mirjam Toews


Claudius Herrmann
Alexander Gropper
Xavier Pignat
Andreas Plattner
Barbara Oehm
Seiji Yokota

Double Bass:

Dieter Lange
Ruslan Lutsyk
Dariusz Mizera


Rute Fernandes
Rebekka Brunner
Claire Genewein


Philipp Mahrenholz
Astrid Knöchlein
Maria Alba Carmona-Tobella


Robert Pickup
Rita Meier
Heinrich Mätzener


Urs Dengler
Anne Gerstenberger
Elisabeth Göring
Artan Hürsever


Glen Borling
Andrea Siri


Sergio Zordan


Hans-Peter Achberger