The White Rock on Hastings sea front offered a most wonderful performance of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem on Saturday May 5. It was performed by the Hastings Philharmonic Choir, Orchestra and four excellent soloists, Susana Gaspar (soprano) with a beautiful clear and and measured voice, Catia Moreso (mezzo), Emanoel Velozo (tenor) and a baritone who replaced the one announced in the brochure. Marcio Da Silva was the conductor of the choir– in its 90th anniversary year – and orchestra. He had also organised a special treat on this occasion.
The choir was joined by the Kosovo Philharmonic choir which was celebrating the 10th anniversary of its country’s independence. Marcio also conducts this choir and the sound of both together, nearly 120 singers, was magnificent and ably supported by the superb orchestra. The singing of the soloists as a quartet was an impressive blend of voices.
Messa da Requiem was conceived after two prominent, cultural and artistic friends of Verdi died, one being the composer and artist Gioachino Rossini in 1868. A month later Verdi wrote to his publisher and proposed a new Mass which would commemorate the first anniversary of Rossini’s death to which the leading Italian composers of church music should each contribute.
The ambitious work was completed but eventually fell by the wayside due to administrative problems. In 1871 it was suggested that Verdi should rewrite the whole Mass himself, which he initially refused to do, but in 1873 he requested that his manuscript be returned. A month later a second friend, Alessandro Manzoni, died. The two had been kindred spirits. Verdi did rewrite the whole of Messa da Requiem in 1874, including in it a revised version of Libera Me originally composed for Rossini. It had its first performance on the anniversary of Manzoni’s death in Milan under Verdi’s direction. Dissatisfied, he added a four-part choir with a mezzo-soprano solo. In this final form the work was performed at the Royal Albert Hall on May 15, 1875.
Photos: Hastings Philharmonic