On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Armistice of 11 November 1918 the Choir of St. Mary’s Church, Nottingham, with the Orchestra of the Restoration mark this historic event with a performance of Verdi’s Requiem on Saturday 10 November 7:30pm.
In 1873 the Italian poet, novelist and national hero Alessandro Manzoni died. Verdi had been a lifelong admirer and was deeply affected by his death. He decided to write a Requiem in Manzoni’s memory, and began by re-working the Libera me which he had composed five years earlier.
Though it is Verdi’s only large-scale work not intended for the stage, the Requiem is unashamedly theatrical in style, with passages of great tenderness and simplicity contrasting with intensely dramatic sections. Writing at the time, the eminent conductor and pianist Hans von Bülow aptly described it as ‘Verdi’s latest opera, in church vestments’
The first performance of the Messa di Requiem took place on 22nd May 1874, the first anniversary of Manzoni’s death, in St. Mark’s Church, Milan. Special permission had to be obtained from the Archbishop for the inclusion of the female choristers, who were hidden behind a screen and clad in full-length black dresses and mourning veils.
Though it was a successful performance, the restrained circumstances and prohibition against applause produced a somewhat muted reaction. In contrast, the second performance three days later, at La Scala Opera House, was received by the capacity crowd with tumultuous enthusiasm. The Requiem became an overnight sensation, and was equally ecstatically received at the many European performances that soon followed.
Its British premiere took place in May 1875 at the Albert Hall, conducted by Verdi himself, with a chorus of over 1000 and an orchestra of 140. One journalist described the work as ‘the most beautiful music for the church that has been produced since the Requiem of Mozart’.
For the performance in St Mary’s Church in Nottingham’s Lace Market, the church’s regular choir will be bolstered by former members to create a larger chorus. Joined by the church’s resident orchestra, the concert will be conducted by director of music, John Keys.
Soloists include Elisabeth Meister (soprano) and Bozidar Smiljanic (bass-baritone) both of whom are former choristers who have gone on to pursue professional singing careers.
Katie Stevenson mezzo-soprano Keith Halliday tenor are also soloists.
Tickets (£15 – £13 concessions). are available from Tickets: