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Friday, September 1, 2017

Metropolitan Opera Preview: The Verdi Requiem

In place of the cancelled Forza, four concerts instead.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The subject matter of the Verdi Requiem, in one image.
Superconductor makes no endorsement of any one religion, belief or practice.
Giuseppe Verdi's setting of the Requiem Mass has been called his best opera that doesn't have a staging. Here, the Met offers this massive work as a substitute for its cancelled production of La Forza del Destino.

What is the Verdi Requiem?
This is Verdi's most important liturgical work, a setting of the Roman Catholic mass for the dead which has all the power and energy of his operas. The famous opening of the Dies Irae ("Wrath of God") is so powerful that it has appeared throughout popular culture and film, most recently as the music accompanying the suicide run of the Bullet Farmer in Mad Max: Fury Road.

What's a Requiem?
A multi-movement setting of the Catholic mass, including a thunderous depiction of the Day of Judgment, pleas for mercy before the Almighty, and the usual liturgical movements: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei. There is also the work's most famous section, the Sequenza, which is a setting of the Last Judgment.

What's the music like?
The opening of the Dies Irae is maybe the loudest thing Verdi ever wrote. This is a sacred work that moves like an opera, with power, ease and drama. It's really bloody great.

Who's in it?
The Met chorus and orchestra with four soloists: Krassimira Stoyanova, Ekaterina Semenchuk, tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko and bass Ferruccio Furlanetto
Ferruccio Furlanetto. James Levine conducts.

How's the production?
This is a concert staging with chorus and orchestra so there are no sets or costumes.

Why should I see it?
Because the Met doesn't do this often and this is a magnificent and terrifying work.

When does it open?
The concerts run from Nov. 24-Dec. 2 2017.

Where can I get tickets?
Tickets  are available through MetOpera.Org or by calling the box office at (212) 362-6000. You can save service fees by going to the box office in person at the Met itself, located at 30 Lincoln Center Plaza. Hours: Monday to Saturday: 10am-8pm, Sunday: 12pm-6pm.

Is there a Live in HD broadcast planned?

Recording Recommendations:
Coro E Orchestra della Scala cond. Claudio Abbado (DG, 1986)
Claudio Abbado recorded the Verdi Requiem twice for DG. This recording features the same soloists that appear in many of his opera recordings for the Yellow Label, with Katia Ricciarelli, Shirley Verrett, Placido Domingo (in prime voice) and Nicolai Ghiaurov. Top-notch.

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.