St Petersburg, Mariinsky Theatre

Verdi. Requiem

Soprano: Kristina Kapustinskaya
Mezzo-soprano: Olga Borodina
Tenor: Sergei Semishkur
Bass: Ildar Abdrazakov


Principal Chorus Master: Andrei Petrenko

Verdi´s Requiem – the Italian master´s only composition of musical drama that is not an opera – has gone down in the history of music as the most theatrical version of the traditional Catholic Mass for the Dead. It was written as a result of circumstances in the composer´s private life: at the turn of the 1860s and 1870s Verdi lost a great many people who were dear to him. His father, his close friend and collaborator the librettist Piave, and his brilliant fellow-countryman and predecessor in opera Rossini all died one after the other. This mournful list was completed by the death of the poet and writer Alessandro Manzoni, who was for Verdi «a model of virtue and patriotism», and for whom the composer had a profound respect both as a man and as an author. Manzoni´s death was also the direct cause of the writing of the Requiem. «I am deeply saddened by the death of our Great Man!», Verdi wrote the following day. «I will go and visit his grave with the idea of proposing something in reverence of his memory». What he proposed was a vast Requiem mass, first performed on 22 May 1874, the anniversary of Manzoni´s death, in St. Mark´s Cathedral in Milan, and conducted by the composer himself. A few days later the Requiem was repeated at La Scala with enormous success, and subsequently in Paris, Vienna, St Petersburg, and other cities. Verdi impegnated the traditional structure of the Catholic mass with purely romantic expression. The Requiem is close in style to Aida, on which the composer was working at the same time. The intimate circle of musical images, characterised by bright and clear delineation, and the musical theatre forms (ariosos, duets, trios and quartets) endow the work with features of operatic expressiveness. It is on account of this that the Requiem has become firmly established in the repertoires of theatres and concert halls.

Nadezha Kulygina

Age category 6+

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