Few instrumentalists establish themselves with such firm authority as Paul O'Dette has on the lute. He has been described as the clearest case of genius ever to touch his instrument. (Toronto Globe and Mail) One of the most influential figures in his field, O'Dette has helped define the technical and stylistic standards to which twenty-first-century performers of early music aspire. In doing so, he helped infuse the performance practice movement with a perfect combination of historical awareness, idiomatic accuracy, and ambitious self-expression.
His performances at the major international festivals in Boston, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Berkeley, London, Bath, Paris, Montpellier, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Bruges, Antwerp, Berlin, Munich, Bremen, Dresden, Vienna, Innsbruck, Prague, Milan, Florence, Geneva, Madrid, Barcelona, Tenerife, Copenhagen, Oslo, Cordoba, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Melbourne, Tokyo, etc. have often been singled out as the highlight of those events. Though best known for his recitals and recordings of virtuoso solo lute music, Paul O'Dette maintains an active international career as an ensemble musician as well, performing with many of the leading early music soloists and ensembles. He is a member of the acclaimed continuo ensemble Tragicomedia.
Paul O'Dette has made more than 120 recordings, many of which have been nominated for Gramophone's Record of the Year Award. The Complete Lute Music of John Dowland (a 5-CD set for harmonia mundi usa), was awarded the prestigious Diapason D'or de l'année, while The Royal Lewters has received the Diapason Dor, a Choc du Monde de la Musique, a 5-star rating in BBC Music Magazine, 5-star rating in Goldberg and a perfect score of 10 from ClassicsToday.com. Mr. O'Dette has performed in broadcasts for the ABC (Australia), Radio Argentina, BBC (UK), CBC (Canada), Radio France, RAI (Italy), Westdeutscher Rundfunk (Cologne), Bayerischer Rundfunk (Munich), SFB (Berlin), NOS (Holland), Austrian Radio, Spanish Radio and Television, TV Ankara, Hungarian Television, Norwegian Radio, Danish Radio and Television, Swedish Television, Swiss Radio and Television, National Public Radio (USA) and CBS Television (USA).
Recently, Mr. O'Dette has been active conducting Baroque operas. In 1997 he led performances of Luigi Rossi's L'Orfeo at Tanglewood, the Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF) and the Drottningholm Court Theatre in Sweden with Stephen Stubbs. Since 1999 they have co-directed performances of Cavalli's Ercole Amante at the Boston Early Music Festival, Tanglewood, and the Utrecht Early Music Festival, Provenzale's La Stellidaura Vendicata at the Vadstena Academy in Sweden, Monteverdi's Orfeo and L'Incoronazione di Poppea for Festival Vancouver, Lully's Thesée, Conradis Ariadne (Hamburg, 1691) and Matthesons Boris Goudenow for the Boston Early Music Festival and Tanglewood. Their recording of Conradis Ariadne was nominated for a Grammy as best opera recording of 2005. Paul O'Dette has guest conducted numerous Baroque orchestras on both sides of the Atlantic including the Portland Baroque Orchestra, Tafelmusik, Apollos Fire, Ensemble Arion, Chatham Baroque and Corona Artis.
In addition to his activities as a performer, Paul O'Dette is an avid researcher, having worked extensively on the performance and sources of seventeenth-century Italian and English solo song, continuo practices and lute technique, the latter resulting in a forthcoming book co-authored by Patrick O'Brien. He has published numerous articles on issues of historical performance practice and co-authored the Dowland entry in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
Paul O'Dette is Professor of Lute and Director of Early Music at the Eastman School of Music and Artistic Director of the Boston Early Music Festival.