A concert of erotic madrigals bound to make you blush.

Lady Gaga should take a leaf out of Monteverdi’s book – specifically, his books of madrigals. The 17th-century Italian composer knew how to make the human voice sound sexy and suggestive; all without the need for Auto-Tune.

The spiritual and sensual worlds sit comfortably side by side in Monteverdi’s eight books of a cappellavocal madrigals, but Song Company artistic director Roland Peelman has selected nine of the most explicitly amorous for the ensemble’s first tour of 2012, Love in Venice, which culminates in performances at the Melbourne Recital Centre (March 12) and Sydney’s City Recital Hall on March 14.

“Monteverdi is one the most inventive fearless composers ever,” says Peelman. “When dealing with erotically charged texts, he always manages to find a device that makes it more unexpectedly erotic or sensuous.”

Those devices include closely intertwined vocal interplay, luscious harmonies and deliciously languid dissonances in which the exquisite tortures of love find expression. Although the pieces are intimate and require only a handful of singers, Peelman insists that “this is music on a par with Wagner’s Liebestod;it is equally voluptuous, romantic and exalted. They really push the boundaries of our...