Spring 2024

Conducted by David Halls. With Chelsea Opera Group Orchestra:

Rachel Nicholls - Soprano
Jess Dandy - Alto
Paul Nilon - Tenor
James Platt - Bass

Saturday 16 March 2024
Salisbury Cathedral

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) proposed to write a Requiem Mass in 1873 to honour the Italian writer Alessandro Manzoni who had just died. In the composition he reused a Libera me which he had written four years earlier after the death of Rossini. He added six more movements to produce the Requiem we know today. He chose the Church of San Marco in Milan for the first performance in May 1874 and two thousand people attended. Many more had to be turned away and a further performance was given later that month at La Scala. Three of the four soloists had recently taken the leading parts in the first Milan performance of Aida.

After the first performances, which were received by the public with jubilation, critical response was not unanimous in praise – some objected to the operatic nature of the work. But as Verdi's widow wrote later: “Verdi must write like Verdi, that is, according to his own feeling and interpreting of the text. The religious spirit and the way in which it is given expression must bear the stamp of its period and its author's personality'. There is no doubt that the dramatic sections of the work, particularly the Dies Irae, reflect the composer's operatic output and style.

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