Verdi's 'Requiem Mass' Reverberates Across the Globe in Celebration of His Musical Prolificacy

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Verdi's 'Requiem Mass' Reverberates Across the Globe in Celebration of His Musical Prolificacy

This year is the 100th anniversary of the death of Giuseppe Verdi, and around the globe his works are being performed to honor this most celebrated Italian composer. Verdi, famous for his beautiful operas "Aida," "La Traviata" and "Rigoletto," also composed the impressive "Requiem Mass."

The Requiem is the leading choice of Verdi celebrants this year, scheduled to be performed by opera companies, choirs and orchestras across the globe, including Korea. Its colorful melodies and soaring musicality makes Verdi's Requiem a work of operatic magnificence. Hans von Bulow, the renowned German conductor, impressed by the grandness of the work - which requires four soloists, a choir and the orchestra - once called it "an opera in ecclesiastical robes".

The passing of the composer Gioacchino Rossini in 1868 and the Italian poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni in 1873 inspired Verdi's Requiem.

When Rossini died, Verdi proposed that the anniversary of his death be commemorated with a requiem mass performed at a church in Bologna, the city with which Rossini was most closely identified. Verdi was commissioned to write the concluding part of the work, but the plan for the performance never materialized. In 1873, Verdi began working on his Requiem in memory of Manzoni, a close friend. The work was premiered in 1874 at the church of San Marco in Milan, performed by a 110-member orchestra and a choir of 120 voices. The performance, conducted by the composer himself, was received with great enthusiasm. A year later, Verdi led a choir of 1,200 and an orchestra of 150 musicians in a performance of his Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The performance showed that the Requiem is suited for a variety of arenas.

The Requiem is hardly ever performed in Korea, where cost constraints do not allow outlays for the great number of vocalists and musicians. This month, however, there will be two performances of the Requiem to honor those who died serving the Republic of Korea in the last century. Wednesday the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Mark Ermler will perform Verdi's masterpiece at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Seoul. The concert will feature a total of 184 performers, including the Seoul Choir and the soprano Tiziana Ducati. Tickets are priced between 5,000 won (about $4) and 30,000 won. For more information, call Ticketlink at 1588-7890 (English service available).

The Suwon Civic Chorale in collaboration with the Inchon City Chorale and the Sungnam Civic Choir will present the Requiem at Kyonggido Culture and Art Center on June 20. Ticket prices range between 3,000 won and 5,000 won. For information, call 031-228-2816 (Korean service only).

by Lee Jang-jik

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