Giuseppi Verdi was the shining star of the Romantic Era, and was best known for his operas. However, Verdi’s Requiem is not an opera; rather, it is a piece written for orchestra, chorus, and four solo singers: a male tenor, a male baritone, a female soprano, and a female mezzo-soprano. It has seven movements, one of which (Dies Irae) is divided into nine sub-movements. Requiem is unnervingly powerful, both in its musical ardor and its biblical resonance. It covers a wide range of tempos, rhythms and keys, beginning in quadruple-meter A minor and ending in a duple-meter C Major. Verdi’s Requiem was made to commemorate an Italian poet named Alessandro Manzoni, whom Verdi greatly admired; the piece is sometimes called the Manzoni Requiem.
To hear the piece’s magnificence flow through Carnegie Hall on March 11, 2006 (seems like yesterday) was a breathtaking experience. All four soloists performed beautifully, but in my opinion, Frank Lopardo (the tenor) could have expressed a bit more emotion, notably in Ingemisco. (I say this with regret, because Ingemisco is entirely a tenor solo, and includes many challenging intervals and maneuvers.) There were some times, however, in which I felt that he was singing more with his lungs than his heart.
The baritone (Greer Grimsley) was my favorite of all four of the soloists. He hit every note with pinpoint accuracy, and could release a bass tone that felt like an earthquake. His performance at the end of Tuba Mirum was spectacular, where he hit a low G that literally made me tremble. Speaking of Tuba Mirum, let me say the following: If I had to prove to someone that Giusseppi Verdi was a genius, I would invite that person to listen to Tuba Mirum. In preparation for this particular movement, Verdi instructed that two pairs of trumpets be separated from the rest of the performers; one pair was to be to the left of the stage, and one to the right. In this particular performance, the two pairs of trumpets were placed in opposite box seats, on the balcony. Tuba Mirum is a trumpet fanfare, beginning with a diminished triad that bears down on you from all sides (due to the isolated trumpet pairs). This gives the whole movement a sense of entering heaven (or hell, depending on how you hear the music!). Regardless, the listener feels as if he is being exposed to God himself. Tuba Mirum is an inescapable call to Judgment. By the end of it, you feel — as horribly silly and cliché as this may sound — purged of sin! And if you do not believe me, I invite you to listen to it yourself.
The fourth-to-last movement, Sanctus, is a joyful yet complicated fugue. In this movement, the orchestra and chorus seemed to be straining to hold together; the chorus always seemed to be a bit ahead of the orchestra. Perhaps the conductor (Robert Spano) chose to move a bit too quickly for the performers, causing the movement to sound sloppy at times.
The piece was concluded with the angelic Libera Me. The last words are, “Libera me, Domine, de morte æterna, in die illa tremenda… Libera me… Libera me.” This translates to, “Free me, Lord, from eternal death upon that terrible day…” Every person in the audience held his breath as the tenor sang those last words. To my delight, the audience delayed their applause for just a few seconds longer, as that last C Major chord dissipated into the air around us.Tags: album, ballet, baroque, best classical music, cd, classical, classical music, classical music cds, classical music composer, classical music Mozart, classical music online, classical piano music, composers, concert, concert etiquette, etiquette, Events, Frank Lopardo, General, Greer Grimsley, instrument, Manzoni, Manzonis Requiem, met opera, metropolitan opera, music, opera, opera house, opera singers, piano, requiem, reviews, Verdi, Verdis requiem