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Verdi Requiem

posted May 14, 2016, 12:26 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated May 14, 2016, 12:26 PM ]
Until 1874, Giuseppe Verdi was known exclusively for his operas. The early success of Nabucco with its grand "Va, pensiero" chorus made his name famous in 1842. Then in the early 1850s, Rigoletto, Il trovatore, and La traviata made him the most popular composer in all Europe. By the huge success of Aida in 1871, he seemed set on retirement; spending his days at his farmhouse south of Milan, raising chickens, puttering in the garden and reading.

So when his favorite poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni died on May 22, 1873, he was too grief-stricken to attend the funeral. He proposed to the mayor of Milan that he compose a requiem, (a musical setting of the funeral mass) to honor his memory. The mayor agreed and Verdi’s Requiem was performed on the first anniversary of Manzoni’s death, at the church of San Marco in Milan. It was then repeated at La Scala opera house three days later, with Verdi conducting both. Audiences were so enthusiastic, he soon took it “on tour” to Paris and other European capitals, and its first performance in the United States was at New York City’s Academy of Music, a 4,000-seat opera house formerly located on the northeast corner of 14th Street and Irving Place.

I’m singing it at Lincoln Center this Friday, May 6, at 8:00 PM with the National Chorale. The United States Army Soldiers’ Chorus is joining us. For more information, or to order tickets, call (212) 333-5333 or visit NationalChorale.org.