We are thrilled to tell you that on Sunday 26 November at 3:00pm in the Anvil, Basingstoke we will be performing the Verdi Requiem, one of the most powerful and moving works of choral music ever written,. This monumental work was composed by Giuseppe Verdi, the master of Italian opera, in memory of his friend and hero, the poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni.
In this post, we will explore the fascinating story behind the creation of the Requiem, its musical highlights, and what you can expect from our performance.
The Background The Requiem was not Verdi’s first attempt to compose a musical tribute to a departed genius. In 1868, after the death of Gioachino Rossini, Verdi proposed a collaborative project with 12 other Italian composers to write a joint Requiem for Rossini. Verdi himself contributed the final movement, the Libera me. However, the project was abandoned due to various complications, and the Requiem for Rossini was never performed in Verdi’s lifetime.
In 1873, Verdi was deeply saddened by the death of Alessandro Manzoni, whom he admired as the greatest Italian writer of his time. He decided to revive his Libera me and compose a complete Requiem in Manzoni’s honour. He finished the work in less than a year and conducted its premiere on May 22, 1874, the first anniversary of Manzoni’s death, at the church of San Marco in Milan. The Requiem was an instant success and Verdi toured it across Europe,
Musical Features and Highlights The Requiem is scored for four soloists (soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and bass), double choir, and orchestra. It follows the traditional structure of the Catholic funeral mass, but with some modifications and additions by Verdi. It consists of seven main sections: I. Requiem aeternam – Kyrie; II. Dies irae; III. Offertorio; IV. Sanctus; V. Agnus Dei; VI. Lux aeterna; VII. Libera me.
The Requiem is famous for its dramatic contrast between moments of terror and tenderness, fury and serenity, despair and hope. One of the most striking examples is the Dies Irae (Day of wrath), which depicts the final judgment with thunderous orchestral and choral effects, including trumpets placed off-stage for a surround sound effect. The Dies Irae contains several sub-sections that showcase different aspects of the human response to death, such as fear, guilt, remorse, prayer, and supplication.
Another remarkable feature of the Requiem is the prominent role of the soloists, who often sing as a quartet or in various combinations, creating a rich variety of vocal colours and textures. The soloists also have some stunning solo moments, such as the soprano’s soaring high C in
the Libera me, the mezzo-soprano’s expressive plea in the Recordare, the tenor’s plaintive cry in the Ingemisco, and the bass’s ominous warning in the Confutatis.
Our goal is to bring out the full emotional impact and beauty of Verdi’s Requiem with a passionate and dedicated performance. To join us we have assembled a talented team of soloists, and orchestra players who have been rehearsing diligently to prepare for this challenging and rewarding work. We hope that y
ou will join us for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share one of the greatest musical masterpieces of all time. To book your tickets or find out more information about our performance, please visit our website.
We look forward to seeing you soon!