With 28 operas to his name, Verdi is rightfully known as one Italy’s foremost opera composers. His Messa da Requiem clearly reveals his talent for musical drama and was also called one his best operas at the time of the première. Under guidance from Venezuelan conductor Domingo Hindoyan, the Royal Swedish Orchestra, the choirs from both the Royal Swedish Opera and the Göteborg Opera, as well as four Swedish star soloists, perform this breathtaking piece that moves between the almost painfully beautiful and the stupefying and horrifying. Verdi’s Requiem is powerful music that both moves and comforts you. In the interpretation of these skilled musicians, it can stir up as well as liberate your innermost feelings.
When Verdi heard that his idol, the writer Alessandro Manzoni, had passed away, he suffered such grief that he was unable to attend the funeral in the Church of San Marco in Milan. But Verdi was not the only person grieving; Manzoni’s writing, not least his novel “The Betrothed”, had laid the foundation for modern Italian, much like Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy” influenced the early emergence of the language in the 1300s. Manzoni’s novel also became a symbol for the unification of Italy, which was finalized only two years before he died.
Five years earlier, Rossini had passed away and Verdi, who admired his older colleague, initiated a project of collaboration between Italian composers, through which they would jointly create a requiem in Rossini’s honour. Even though Verdi himself and twelve other composers had contributed to the finished requiem, the project suffered a series of setbacks and the première never took place. Spurred by his grief following Manzoni’s passing, Verdi contacted the Mayor of Milan and offered to write a requiem himself to honour Manzoni’s memory. The following year, on the anniversary of his death, it was first performed in the Church of San Marco, where the funeral had also been held.
Verdi’s aptitude for musical drama is clear from the very first movement of Messa da Requiem, or ”Messa per Manzoni” as it has also been known. Throughout the entire piece, Verdi portrays and dramatizes the emotional journey from loss and longing, through the paralysing and relentless fear of Judgement Day, the redemption of mankind and eternal peace, in the same brilliant and ingenious manner as he does in his operas. The fact is that the requiem by some people was called “one of Verdi’s best operas”. Verdi’s Requiem, as well as Mozart’s own requiem, are among the most performed and popular major choral works.
The link to the world of opera is made even clearer with the quartet of soloists, who are all from with the Royal Swedish Opera. Conductor Pier Giorgio Morandi is also one of the regular guests at the Opera, last winter with Verdi’s Aida, an opera that was actually created two years before the requiem. In 1997, Morandi made an acclaimed recording of Verdi’s Requiem that included the orchestra and choir of the Hungarian State Opera, and Italian opera, particularly Verdi and Rossini, is something of his speciality. It is also a particular pleasure to welcome the choir from the Göteborg Opera, who will be performing at the Baltic Sea Festival for the first time!
The Royal Swedish Orchestra is the orchestra of the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm It is one the oldest, still extant orchestras in the world and will soon celebrate its 500th anniversary. As early as 1526, during the early years of Gustav I’s reign, the orchestra was mentioned in the accounts of the royal household. At the time, the ensemble consisted of 12 musicians and today, they number 105. The many conductors that have led the ensemble in recent years include Mattias Böhm, Ben Gernon, Daniele Callegari, Eun Sun Kim, Tobias Ringborg, Cathrine Winnes and Marc Soustrot.
Like the Royal Swedish Orchestra, the Royal Swedish Opera Choir is one of the oldest ensembles of its kind still in existence, although much younger, as it dates from 1773. The choristers are skilled and highly trained soloists in their own right and combine the particular demands of the operatic form with those of the choir in a way that has garnered tremendous acclaim as well as distinguished awards, such as the Svenska Dagbladet Opera Prize in 2013.
The Göteborg Opera Choir has 46 singers and is one of three professional opera choirs in the country. The choir members, who are all trained soloists, also perform in various operas. The choir also performs at concerts, with smaller ensembles and sometimes even in musicals. In addition to their singing skills, the Göteborg Opera chorists are renowned for their acting.
Venezuelan conductor Domingo Hindoyan is one of the success stories of the El Sistema programme. After studying the violin at El Sistema in Caracas, he graduated in conducting at the Geneva University of Music. He has worked with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra under conductors Esa-Pekka Salonen and Bernard Haitink, among others. Some of his foremost performances include Tosca and La bohème by Puccini at Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin, as well as Rossini’s Il turco in Italia and Semiramide at Bergen Nasjonale Opera and Opéra national de Lorraine, respectively. In the autumn of 2019, Hindoyan will become the principal guest conductor at the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Young Swedish soprano Christina Nilsson took her master’s degree at the Stockholm University College of Opera in 2017, but has already performed at Berwaldhallen, the Stockholm Concert Hall and the Royal Swedish Opera, as well as at Opéra national de Lorraine and Opéra de Lyon in France. In 2018, she debuts as Aida at the Royal Swedish Opera, where she has previously played Anna in Min bror är Don Juan (My Brother is Don Juan) by Niklas Brommare. In 2017, Christina Nilsson won first prize in the Renata Tebaldi International Voice Competition. The year before, she won both First Prize and the Audience Prize at the Stenhammar competition. She has received the Jenny Lind as well as the Birgit Nilsson scholarships.
Mezzo soprano Miriam Treichl is a versatile concert soloist and opera singer who tackles newly written works and great classics with an equal measure of skill and commitment. She has performed acclaimed interpretations of Hanna Glawari in Lehár’s The Merry Widow at Folkoperan, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni at the Wermland Opera, Confidencen and Drottningholms Slottsteater, as well as Mère Marie in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites at the Malmö Opera. Treichl has been asked to play leading roles in several newly written works, amongst them Beatrice in Sven-David Sandström’s Jeppe, the title role in Carl Unander-Scharin’s Lysistrate, as well as Jean Avril at the première of Mats Larsson Gothe’s Blanche och Marie (Blanche and Marie).
Daniel Johansson is a tenor from Braås in the province of Småland, who went from hard rock to opera and was likened to a young Pavarotti by Frankfurter Allgemeine for his interpretation of Rodolfo in Puccini’s La bohème. In 2018, he will be performing at the Royal Swedish Opera in both Puccini’s Tosca and Umberto Giordano’s Fedora, as well as in Carmen at Semperoper Dresden. He has played Melot in Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Daniel Harding, as well as with Orchestre de Paris and Christoph Eschenbach. Johansson trained at the Stockholm University College of Opera and has received numerous awards, among them First Prize and the Audience Prize in the Stenhammar competition.
Bass-baritone Anders Lorentzson is part of the Göteborg Opera soloist ensemble where he has performed acclaimed interpretations of Baron von Ochs in Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, Wotan in The Valkyrie by Wagner, the title role in Verdi’s Falstaff and Banco in several productions of Macbeth. He has also graced the stage of the Royal Swedish Opera as Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni and Basilio in The Barber of Seville. Lorentzson has performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and most recently at the Czech National Theatre Brno, playing the title role in Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, as well as Arkel in Debussy’s Pelléas and Mélisande at Den Norske Opera in Oslo.
FESTIVAL OFFER (Östersjöklippet)
With the Baltic Sea Festival Offer (Östersjöklippet), you get three different levels at a discount – 10, 15 and 20% off the regular fare depending on whether you buy three, four or five different concerts at the same time.