Despite being a rather sceptical believer, Verdi was a man of profound spirituality and he knew the religious repertoire well: he had been assistant to the organist at Busetto cathedral. Revising the original score before the première in Milan (22 May 1874), conductor Hans von Bülow defined this popular Requiem – with some sarcasm – as “Verdi's latest opera, dressed in a cassock”, and certainly, the melodic texture of the work distances it from the canonical styles of Western religious music.
Verdi, who after Nabucco and the popular trilogy (Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and La Traviata), could justifiably call himself the most famous composer in the world, wrote it with an aesthetic freedom that brought it close to the opera genre. The origins of the piece date back to 1868, when, to mark the death of Rossini, Verdi proposed to the burghers of Bologna a mass for the dead written by the best Italian composers.
The project did not come to fruition and the composer – who had written earlier drafts – ended up composing it on his own, also upset at the death of composer and father of the Italian nation Alessandro Manzoni, for whom he felt a true devotion. This explains the intensity of a titanic work, with genuine sparks of emotion and one that calls for the utmost vocal effort from soloists and chorus.
Giuseppe Verdi: Requiem
Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya (OBC)
Pablo González, conductor
Maria Luigia Borsi, soprano
Ildiko Komlosi, mezzo
Russell Thomas, tenor
Riccardo Zanellato, bass
Cor del Gran Teatre del Liceu
Jose Luis Basso, Chorus Director
Cor de Cambra del Palau
The Symphony Orchestra and Chorus of the Gran Teatre del Liceu have made a outstanding contribution to the Liceu's history and reputation. During the 2012-2013 season they have also been invited to perform at L'Auditori de Barcelona, where they will take part in two major concerts conducted respectively by their own new resident conductor, Joan Pons, and by the resident conductor of the OBC (Barcelona Symphony and Catalan National Orchestra), Pablo González. At one concert the Orchestra and Chorus will perform Beethoven's 9th Symphony; at the other the chorus of the Liceu will join the OBC and the Chamber Chorus of the Palau de la Música Catalana in a performance of Giuseppe Verdi's Requiem to mark the bi-centenary of the composer's birth.
In collaboration with