GUISEPPE VERDI (1813 – 1901) MESSA DA REQUIEM

Cape Town Phiharmonic Orchestra

i Requiem • ii Dies Irae • iii Offertorium • iv Sanctus • v Agnus Dei • vi Lux aeterna
• vii Libera me

Verdi’s Messa da Requiem was written to mark the death of the famous Italian poet Alessandro Manzoni. The first performance was in the church of San Marco in Milan on 22 May 1874, the first anniversary of Manzoni’s death. Before that, in 1868, Verdi had suggested that the leading composers of the day should collaborate to write a requiem, commemorating the death of Rossini. The work was actually completed, with Verdi contributing the Libera Me, but it was never performed owing to an “egotistical indifference” on the part of the conductor Mariani. Himself a composer, he was not invited to contribute and he saw to it that the performance never took place. This Requiem is Verdi’s only major sacred work and, like his secular stage works, is essentially dramatic and theatrical in nature. Nevertheless, there is no denying its deeply-felt religious and spiritual emotion and its powerful impact on performers and audience alike. Like Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and the Berlioz Requiem, it is not intended for performance in the Divine Service, but is a large concert work existing in its own right.

The work opens with the chorus chanting softly and, later on, after a declamatory passage for the male voices and a repeat of the opening, the four soloists have imposing entries. The dramatic and turbulent Dies Irae calls for powerful thumps on a large bass drum to punctuate the terrified singing of the chorus. In the following sections of the Dies Irae, trumpet calls from afar bring a sense of fear to the Tuba Mirum. The mezzo soprano has a theatrical sound in the Liber Scriptus and, after the more tranquil Quid sum Miser, the Rex Tremendae prepares us for the huge climax at its end, “Salva me”. The Dies Irae continues with the operatic sound of the soprano and mezzo soprano in Recordare and the tenor solo in the beautifully serene Ingemisco. The atmosphere is interrupted by the bass solo, Confutatis, and an unexpected repeat of the drama of the Dies Irae. The long sequence ends with the Lachrymosa and a magical key change to the major brings the movement to rest on the word “Amen”. The cellos introduce the four solo voices in the Offertorium, with the memorable soprano entry announcing the arrival of Saint Michael to bring the departed into the Holy Light, and the tenor’s Hostias. An exciting double fugue for chorus makes up the Sanctus and there’s a sense of the style of Gregorian Chant in the Agnus Dei. Lux Aeterna conveys the final pleas for the departed spirit. The closing movement, Libera Me, returns to the drama of the Dies Irae. After an immensely beautiful a capella sequence for chorus and high soprano, a might fugue develops, taking the work to another huge climax, with an operatic top C for the soprano, before calm is restored and the work ends softly on the words “Libera Me, Libera Me …”

  • Genre: Music
  • Format:
  • Duration:
  • Language: Non-verbal
  • Ages: All ages
  • Available From: July 5, 2020

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Conductor Perry So
Soloists Anne Sophie Duprels (soprano)
Violina Anguelov (mezzo-soprano)
Luc Robert (tenor)
Thato Machona (bass baritone)
New Apostolic Choir Cape Town and Cape Town Opera Chorus

Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra and Cape Town Opera presenting a gala concert for the Duet Endowment Trust
Live streamed on November 22, 2018, by Musicscape /Marek Pinski producer

 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

THE CAPE TOWN PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
For 106 years, the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra has been the foremost orchestra in Africa. The most active one in the country, the CPO is also extremely versatile, performing with the foremost local and international artists that include world acclaimed opera stars, Pretty Yende and the late Johan Botha, violinist Joshua Bell and pianists Paul Lewis and Stephen Hough. The CPO is also the indispensable partner to Cape Town Opera locally and internationally and Cape Town City Ballet, accompanies musicals and offers choral, pops, rock and family concerts. This all adds up to a staggering 130 performances per year in traditional venues such as the City Hall and Artscape Opera, community halls across the region and outdoor venues such as the Endler Hall, Oude Libertas Amphitheatre and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. It is widely praised for the quality of its vast outreach and community programme that includes two acclaimed youth orchestras as well as grassroots training projects, Masidlale, with several hundred students from various townships.

The orchestra is also part of international culture through its CDs, the most recent of which, with cellist Peter Martens and cello concertos by Saint-Saëns and Vieuxtemps with principal guest conductor Bernhard Gueller, was released last year.

VERDI MESSA DA REQUIEM
Conductor Perry So
Soloists Anne Sophie Duprels (soprano)
Violina Anguelov (mezzo-soprano)
Luc Robert (tenor)
Thato Machona (bass baritone)

Conductor Perry So, born in Hong Kong and based in America, has had a long history with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO). His recording of Barber and Korngold’s Violin Concertos with violinist Alexander Gilman and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra was awarded the Diapason d’Or in January 2012. So conducts around the world, and made his European operatic debut at the Royal Danish Opera in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. Other orchestras he conducts include the Szezecin Philharmonic and the Nürnberger Symphoniker, including a tour to Milan, the Orquesta Sinfónica de Tenerife, the Royal Danish Ballet, and the Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias as the orchestra’s Artistic Collaborator. Recent highlights included a seven-week tour of South Africa with three orchestras including the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. Other recent debuts include the Cleveland and Minnesota Orchestras, Houston, Israel and Shanghai Symphony Orchestras, the China Philharmonic, and the Residentie Orkest in the Hague. He has been a frequent guest both at Walt Disney Hall and the Hollywood Bowl following his stint as an inaugural Dudamel Conducting Fellow of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He led the Hong Kong Philharmonic with Lang Lang in an internationally televised celebration of the 15th Anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China at the close of his four years as Assistant, then Associate, Conductor. So received the First and Special Prizes at the Fifth International Prokofiev Conducting Competition in St Petersburg.

Anne Sophie Duprels – soprano
French soprano Anne Sophie Duprels began her training as a pianist at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique et de Danse in Paris, graduating with first class honours in vocal performance. Described as a “formidable singing actress”, she has garnered high critical acclaim internationally for her portrayal of leading verismo heroines. Her appearances include the title roles in Katiusa Risurrezione (Wexford Festival Opera); Theresa in Benvenuto Cellini (Opera National du Rhin); the title role in Pelléas et Mélisande (Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires); a staged version of Strauss’ Four Last Songs (Opera National de Paris); the title role in Rita (Opéra Comique‚ Paris); the title roles of Jenufa and Marguerite in Faust (Opera New Zealand); the title role in Madama Butterfly (Opera North; Edmonton Opera; Opéra de Tours; New Zealand Opera) among many many others.

Violina Anguelov – Mezzo-soprano
Born in Bulgaria, Violina Anguelov obtained her Performer’s Diploma in Opera with distinction as well as Honours Degree in Singing (First Class) from the University of Cape Town under voice teacher Sarita Stern. She has been awarded many prizes including the Adcock Ingram Music Prize, the Leonard Hall Memorial Prize and Erik Chisholm Prize. Ms Anguelov has sung in operas and concerts throughout South Africa and abroad. She has performed over 35 leading operatic roles in a multitude of highly acclaimed performances in South Africa, Germany, Bulgaria, Australia, Switzerland and Sweden. Her South African operatic début was as Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro with Cape Town Opera in 1999. She made her European operatic début as Dorabella in Cosi fan Tutte in Hanover, Germany, in 2000. Since then she has sung roles in many operas and has shared the stage with the world renowned baritone Bryn Terfel in a Gala Concert for the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra and Cape Town Opera and sang in the CPO’s concert version of Lucia di Lammermoor with Sir Richard
Bonynge. Apart from her vast repertoire of operatic roles, Ms Anguelov has performed as a soloist with great success in many sacred works in and around South Africa. These have included all the major oratorio works by Mozart, Pergolesi, Vivaldi, Haydn, Handel, Elgar, Beethoven, JS Bach, Berlioz, Mendelssohn and
Verdi.

Luc Robert – tenor
In a short space of time Canadian tenor Luc Robert has established himself as one of the most interesting “spinto” tenors of our time and is seen especially in the role of Don José. In recent seasons, he was engaged to sing in Carmen productions at Frankfurt Opera, Estonian National Opera, Cape Town Opera and the Opéra de Nice in France. A former firefighter, Luc Robert started his music studies at the Conservatoire de Musique de Québec in Montréal and joined the Canadian Opera Company Studio Ensemble in Toronto in 2002. Robert’s success began in 2012, when he made his debut as Rodolfo in Verdi’s Luisa Miller at Malmö Opera, Sweden. During the same season he also sang with great success Gounod’s Faust at the Estonian National Opera, Cavaradossi in Tosca at the Pacific Opera in Victoria, Canada, and Nicias in Thais with Finnish National Opera. The following year Robert sang the title role of Don Carlo at the Dortmund Opera, Germany and continued the season as Rodolfo in La bohème at Malmö Opera. His role debut as Don José in Carmen took place at the Savonlinna Opera Festival in 2014. During that season he also sang the Steuermann at the Opéra de Lyon in Der fliegende Holländer and stepped in to sing Nicias in
Thais at the Teatro Municipal of Sao Paulo in Brazil. In 2015, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut in Verdi’s Ernani along with Angela Meade and Plácido Domingo. He has recently joined the Montreal Opera for La Bohème, and sang Cavaradossi in Tosca in Calgary, Canada, and Ernani at the Latvian National Opera. Other roles include Dick Johnson in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West at the Estonian National Opera (directed by José Cura), as well as Don José at the Essen Aalto Theatre and the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki.

Thato Machona bass baritone

Thato Machona started singing at the age of 10. He obtained his postgraduate diploma with distinction from the University of Cape Town under the tutelage of Virginia Davids and Kamal Khan, and received vocal training from the late George Stevens. While a student, he sang in several productions, including Postcards from Morocco, Il viaggio a Reims, Dottore Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Leporello in Don Giovanni, the title role in Le nozze di Figaro and Badger in Janácek’s The Cunning Little Vixen. He has sung in many Cape Town Opera productions such as L’elisir d’amore, Salomé, Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro, Otello, Trouble in Tahiti, and several roles in Porgy and Bess, which he sang in the UK, Germany and France. He has also sung Schanaud in La bohème and Mandela 1 in The Mandela Trilogy, which toured to the UK and Ireland, and included a performance at the South Bank in London. Apart from operatic roles, Machona is accomplished in oratorio, and has sung in Handel’s Messiah, St Cecilia by Gounod, the Requiems of Faure and Brahms, the Nelson Mass and Haydn’s Creation, as well as in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Conductors with whom he has collaborated include Kamal Khan, Gerard Korsten, Arjan Tien, Tim Murray, Philip Brunelle, Sebastian Lang-Lessing, Jeremy Silver and Richard Cock.

Alissa Margulis:
Appreciated for her expressive and very emotional performances, Alissa Margulis regularly plays in important concert halls such as the Berlin Philharmony, the Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Tchaikovsky Hall Moscow, Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels, the Cologne Philharmony, the Vienna Musikverein, Sumida Triphony Hall Tokyo, the Sage Gateshead, the Tonhalle Zurich and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Hall. She has performed with the Cape Town Philharmonic and was recently a soloist with the University of Stellenbosch Symphony Orchestra, Bernhard Gueller conducting, in the Woordfees Festival. Born in Germany into a family of Russian musicians, Alissa Margulis studied in Cologne, Brussels and Vienna, and won numerous prizes at international violin competitions. She made her first public appearance at the age of seven with the Budapest Soloists and has performed since then with numerous leading international orchestras such as the English Chamber Orchestra, Beethoven Orchestra Bonn, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Royal Northern Sinfonia, the Moscow Soloists, and the Kremerata Baltica, amongst many others. She is also an enthusiastic chamber music player and collaborates with artists such as Martha Argerich, Yuri Bashmet, Gidon Kremer, Mischa Maisky, Gabriela Montero and Lars Vogt. She also appears at many leading festivals such as Mozartwoche Salzburg and Verbier. She has a wide discography and has won a Grammy and several Diapason d’or awards.

François du Toit
François du Toit is acknowledged as one of South Africa’s finest pianists, chamber musicians and music educators. Receiving early musical training from Merryl Preston and diplomas up to Fellowship level from London’s Trinity College of Music, he completed an Honours degree at the University of Cape Town under the distinguished pianist and teacher, Laura Searle, and then furthered his studies in Hanover, Germany. During his period of study abroad with the renowned pedagogue Berndt Goetzke, he distinguished himself in several important international piano competitions, taking top prizes in the 1991 Hannover Music Competition, the 1992 Rotterdam and 1993 Marsala Internationals, and the 1994 International Maria Callas Competition in Athens.
He has appeared as an acclaimed concerto soloist with all the orchestras in South Africa since the age of 15, and while still a student in 1988 was selected with Steven De Groote to perform with the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra on tour in the Republic of China. Since his days on the Music Faculty at the University of Potchefstroom he has been a member of The Potch Trio, which performed in Moscow and St. Petersburg in 1999, and now also appears with Franklin Larey as the Ixopo Piano Duo. He is a sought-after partner of visiting international artists in recital for chamber music societies throughout South Africa, and a highly respected adjudicator at the various national music competitions. An Associate Professor of Piano at the University of Cape Town where he is also Head of Practical Studies, François du Toit was invited to give masterclasses and a recital at the University of West Michigan, where he also acted as an external examiner.