Argenta's first major international engagement was at Aix-en-Provence, France, in 1983, in Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie directed by John Eliot Gardiner, with the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir. Since then she concertized, recorded, and broadcast extensively throughout Europe, drawing praise for the clarity, lightness, and agility of her voice. In November 1989 she made her Wigmore Hall recital debut. She also performed in the Middle East and Japan.
Argenta was associated particularly with the period instrument movement, and worked with virtually all of the leading ensembles and conductors in the field including - in addition to the English Baroque Soloists and Gardiner - the Academy of Ancient Music (Christopher Hogwood), the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra (Ton Koopman), Les Arts Florissants (William Christie), Frans Brüggen, Alan Curtis, the English Concert (Trevor Pinnock), the London Classical Players (Roger Norrington), La Petite Bande (Sigiswald Kuijken), Tafelmusik, and the Theatre of Early Music with counter-tenor Daniel Taylor. She appeared at the Aix-en-Provence, Aldeburgh, Bath, Göttingen festivals, and the Holland Early Music Festival. Argenta also performed in the Songmaker's Almanac series (London), and with England's Trio Sonnerie.
Argenta's success came largely through her interpretations of baroque repertoire, but she did not consider herself a specialist; she had a substantial 19th- and 20th-century repertoire that included Stravinsky's Les Noces (Geneva 1989), Britten's Les Illuminations (Vancouver 1989), Orff's Carmina Burana (Toronto 1990), and Brahms' Requiem (Cologne 1990). In opera, she sang in Purcell's The Fairy-Queen and Handel's Tamerlano, as well as in Mozart's Figaro and Haydn's L'infideltà delusa. Although she moved to London, England, in 1981, she continued to perform regularly in Canada with Tafelmusik and also with orchestras such as CBC Vancouver Orchestra, the MSO, NACO, the TS, Les Violons du Roy, and in recital (eg, at the NAC). Her US appearances included Lincoln Center, NY (with The English Concert, 1989), Atlanta (with Robert Shaw), St Paul (1989), and a California tour with Tafelmusik (1990), followed by later appearances in Chicago, Ann Arbor, and other cities.
In 1990, Argenta won the Canada Council's Virginia P. Moore Prize; a 1992 recording with Tafelmusik (Handel, Excerpts from 'Floridante') won a Juno award. Her 1995 recording of Purcell songs (O Solitude, EMI) received a Classic CD award. She gave master classes at London's Guildhall School of Music, and regularly at Nelson Summer Song Fest. Urjo Kareda reported (Globe and Mail, 18 Jan 1997) that, "Argenta's voice possesses a bell-like clarity, but the tone has a natural, unforced lyricism ... Feeling is released with simplicity, and no undue archness or artifice interferes with her appealing directness of manner."
- Cantatas BWV 106, 118b, 198. English Baroque Soloists, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner conductor. (1990). Archiv 429-782-2 (CD)
- Cantatas. Ensemble Sonnerie, Monica Huggett. (1993). Virgin Veritas x2 7243 5 61644 2 0
- Christmas Oratorio. English Baroque Soloists, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner conductor. 1987. 2-Archiv 423-232-2 (CD)
- Lutheran Masses. Purcell Quartet, Michael Chance countertenor, Mark Padmore tenor, Peter Harvey bass. 2000. CHAN 0653 Chandos
- Magnificat; Cantata No. 51. English Baroque Soloists, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner conductor. (1985). Philips 411-458-1
- St. John Passion. English Baroque Soloists, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner conductor. 1986. 2-Archiv 419-324-1
Beethoven Choral Fantasia. London Classical Players, Schütz Choir, Tan fortepiano, Norrington conductor. (1990). EMI CDC-7-49965-2
Blow Venus and Adonis. London Baroque, Medlam conductor, Argenta (Cupid), 1987. Harmonia Mundi HMC-901276 (CD)
Damsels in Distress: Woeful Soprano Arias. Tafelmusik. 1993. Sony Masterworks MDK 53962
Gluck Iphigénie en Tauride. Lyons Opera Orchestra, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner conductor, Argenta (1st Priestess). 1985. 2-Philips 416-148-1
- Orfeo ed Euridice. Tafelmusik, Kammerchor Stuttgart, Bernius cond. 1992. SX2K 48 040 Vivarte
Handel Israel in Egypt. Taverner Choir and Players, Parrot conductor. (1990). 2-EMI-CDS-754018-2
- Floridante (excerpts). Tafelmusik, Curtis dir. 1990. CBC SMCD-5110
- Solomon. English Baroque Soloists, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner conductor, Argenta (Solomon's Queen). 1984. 3-Philips 412-612-1
- Tamerlano. English Baroque Soloists, Gardiner conductor, Argenta (Asteria). 3-Erato NUM-75278/3-Erato ECD-88220 (CD)
Haydn L'Infedeltà delusa. La Petite Bande, Kuijken conductor, Argenta (Vespina). 1987-8. 2-Deutsche Harmonia Mundi RD-77099 (CD)
Monteverdi L'Orfeo. English Baroque Soloists, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner conductor, Argenta (Ninfa). 1985. 2-Archiv 419-250-1
Mozart Le Nozze di Figaro. Drottningholm Court Theatre O and Chor, Östman conductor, Argenta (Barbarina). 3-L'Oiseau-Lyre 421-333-1
Portrait of Love: Early 18th-Century Music for the French Court. 2001. HXC 3957081 Harmonia Mundi
Purcell The Fairy Queen. Les Arts Florissants, Christie conductor. 1989. 2-Harmonia Mundi 901308-09 (CD).
- O Solitude : Songs and Airs. 1994. 7 59324 2 Virgin Classics
Scarlatti Cantatas. Chandos Baroque Players. (1991). EMI CDC-7-54176-2 (CD)
Scarlatti Dixit Dominus - Vivaldi Gloria. English Concert, Pinnock conductor. 1987. Archiv 423-386-2 (CD)
Schubert Der Hirt auf dem Felsen. Tan piano, Hoeprich clarinet. 1990. EMI CDC-7-54175-2 (CD)
Theatre Music: Handel - Purcell. CBC Vancouver Orchestra, Huggett conductor. 1988. CBC SMCD-5091
Zelenka Missa dei Filii , Litaniae Lauretanae. Tafelmusik, Kammerchor Stuttgart, Bernius dir. 1989. Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 7922-2 (CD)
Author Tamara Bernstein, Betty Nygaard King
Judy, Stephanie. 'Silver-toned soprano,' Classical Music, April 1993
Comins, Jayne. 'Jayne Comins' Firing Line: Nancy Argenta,' The Singer, Jun-Jul 1999
Boisvert, Richard. 'Nancy Argenta,' Montreal Le Soleil, 2 Feb 2002.
Chan, Wah Keung. 'Nancy Argenta live and up close,' La Scena Musicale, 31 Jan 2003
New Grove Dictionary
Links to Other Sites
The official website for the Piano Six Foundation, a non-profit organization that brought outstanding musicians to small communities across the country.
Alessandro Scarlatti: Oh di Betlemme altera povertà
In this video, soprano Nancy Argenta performs "Oh di Betlemme altera povertà". From the OedipusTyrannusII's Channel on YouTube.com.
Soprano Nancy Argenta sings for fans in new hometown
A news story about Nancy Argenta's career in music. From the canada.com website.
Lost Is My Quiet / Daniel Taylor, Nancy Argenta, et al
Listen to music samples from the recording "Lost Is My Quiet / Daniel Taylor, Nancy Argenta, et al." From the CD Universe website.