The documentary "Vivaldi's Women" on BBC Four presented the story of an extraordinary creative partnership between one of history's great composers–Antonio Vivaldi–and an all-female orchestra and choir. In the early 18th century, Father Antonio Vivaldi was a violin teacher, musical director, musical instrument procurer and in-house composer for a Venetian institution called La Pietà, a home for children who had been abandoned at birth.
The institution had its own all-female orchestra and choir who provided sacred "entertainment" in the church for the visiting "Grand Tourists". The unique creative relationship that Vivaldi formed with these women resulted in what many believe to be one of the finest performing groups of all time.
Further Vivaldi reading:
Antonio Vivaldi and His Sacred Music, by William Peter Mahrt [PDF]
Vivaldi: Voice of the Baroque, by H. C. Robbins Landon [Amazon]