Giuseppe Verdi’s glorious and overpowering mass for the dead.
Verdi’s Requiem is set to conjure up both intense pathos and a sense of apocalyptic drama when it fills Oslo Concert Hall. Opera composers are masters at portraying death by making use of dramatic turns and gripping melodies, and in his Requiem, Verdi has put to use a full register of expression and all the most compelling effects he could draw from the opera world. German conductor Jun Märkl will be in charge of a massive apparatus of soloists, choir and orchestra in what is arguably the mightiest and most intense mass for the dead in musical history.
“Now everything is over!” exclaimed the Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi (1813−1901) when the writer Alessandro Manzoni died in 1873. Verdi had already been shaken by his composer colleague Giaochino Rossini’s death five years earlier, and believed that an entire Italian tradition was about to die out. Manzoni’s death was the catalyst and inspiration for Verdi to write a Requiem − a Catholic mass for dead souls. Verdi was not a religious man himself, but the experience of his colleagues’ deaths was so strong that he produced his Requiem in a short time, and it received its world premiere in Milan in 1874.
In this work, the primary expression is characterised by colossal contrasts, from the dark, mysterious and mumbling Requiem aeternam in the opening movement, to the powerful, stormy Sanctus. In the Dies Irae, the orchestra hammers away with a terrifying yet captivating sound before the choir cries out in desperation as the day of reckoning draws near. In the Lacrymosa, Verdi demonstrates his abilities as a sensitive writer of melody — also one of his most prominent qualities as an opera composer − lending this touching movement an ardent expression.
Although Verdi is generous in his use of theatrical effects, there are no false tears or morbid notions of death in his Requiem. Despite not being very religious, Verdi was concerned with striking a note which resonated with the emotional life of a normal human being. In his portrayal of death he chose as wide a spectrum of expression as possible in order to set music to the most dramatic experience a person can have. This has doubtless imbued his Requiem with a power that no other mass for the dead can compare with, and has ensured for Verdi an enduring place in the history of music.
(In photo: Jun Märkl, Photo: Jean-Baptiste Millot; Text: Thomas Erma Møller; Translation from Norwegian: Sarah Osa)
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- Student: 170 - 235 NOK
- Child: 100 NOK
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