21st June 2013, on Friday, at the Radio Hall
GIUSEPPE VERDI: Messa da Requiem
Conductor: Tiberiu Soare
The National Radio Orchestra and the Radio Academic Choir (conductor: Dan Mihai Goia)
Sorina Munteanu (s), Aura Twarowska (a), Marius Vlad Budoiu (t), Sorin Drăniceanu (b)
The season of the National Radio Orchestra ended with a highly inspired choice: Verdi’s Requiem. During the next three months, we will have the privilege to meet, comment and compare no less than 3 interpretations of the most famous sacred music composition written by Giuseppe Verdi. In two weeks, the Romanian Athenaeum and “George Enescu” Philharmonic Orchestra will end a pretty good season with the same Requiem, conducted by Jin Wang, and in autumn we will applause, in the Enescu Festival, Antonio Pappano and a dream soprano (Lyudmila Monastyrska). Quite a feast. For the moment, the bar was raised very high tonight, by Tiberiu Soare.
It is very difficult to compare Verdi’s Requiem with Mozart’s. If Amadeus’ genius, which had no boundaries, makes us think that all the words of the funeral mass were written especially to match Mozart’s music (but in reality things are the other way around), than the genius of the Italian opera, nearly one century later, is crushed under the meaning of the words, trying to amplify their meaning to a maximum possible. During his life, Verdi had several reticences towards the clergy. It is hard to find a more sinister character than Il Grande Inquisitor, from Don Carlo. This was the birth of the idea that what we attend is an opera, and not a piece of work of sacred music, that the music of the Requiem would be much too operatic, that it would not belong in a church. It is true, the character of romantic opera is obvious, from the beginning to the end. As for the faith… it is equally present.
The concert at the Radio Hall started with the first sounds of the Introitus, the delicate lamentations of the strings ethereally floating over the audience, but being sufficiently sonorous in order to be heard from any corner of the hall. Tiberiu Soare managed to set a perfect balance between the intensity of the sound and its effect. This prelude is repeated, in a similar manner, at the beginning of the last part, Libera me. The musical theme apparently alludes to the prelude of the opera La traviata, without repeating it, but by being its continuation. A continuation of a music we have never heard in a theatre, that of the mass for the repose of Violetta Valéry.
The Radio Academic Choir sang a libretto that is obviously much more familiar for them than Pergolesi or Bach. All the romanticism that weighs over the religious canon and makes it fade away in front of the declamation of human emotions was accessible for this vocal ensemble. And when the religious formula “Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy!” (Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison), which seems so easy to understand and so familiar in a mass, was projected by the voices of four soloists very aware of the romantic repertoire, I realized it was going to be a very high quality concert.
Formally, this piece of work is dedicated to Alessandro Manzoni, and its premiere marked one year since the death of the Italian revolutionary poet admired by Verdi (1874), even if the impulse for the composition was given by Gioachino Rossini’s death (1868). But the leitmotiv of the Requiem, Dies irae, almost inhumanly violent, maybe the most suggestive representation of the Apocalipsis, so clearly anticipates the tempest of the first act in Otello, that the allusions to the operas most cherished by the composer become obvious. And the soloists managed to create this impression, that we did not take part in Manzoni’s funeral mass, but in a mass for those who did not have it on stage: the murdered Violetta, the happy Simon, the unhappy Carlo, Aida – buried alive, the poisoned Leonora, Azucena – burned at the stake, the strangled Desdemona, together with all their projections of our souls, in a list of dead that makes us live again and again the wonder of their tragedies.
More or less intentionally, the four soloists, who brought with them the lives they had lived on the opera stage, reminded us of all these characters with whom we fell in love, one by one, while discovering Giuseppe’s operas.
Sorin Drăniceanu (what voice!) – a basso cantante who caressed the music with his profound timber and brought near us something from Philip II’s sadness, but also something from Ramfis’ deep faith, starting from Mors stupebit and up to Lux aeterna, everything was perfect. He was not an opera character, he was a sacred music soloist, the most authentic of all those on stage, but the theatre allowed him to bring divine sobriety to the human level, that of our alter-ego on stage.
Marius Vlad Budoiu, pedantic, in a difficult part, that confirmed the fame of the greatest tenors ever (Björling, di Stefano, Pavarotti, Domingo, is there anyone among the gods of tenors who did not sing Ingemisco?), managed very well, combining an emission reminding of Jonas Kaufmann with Caruso’s fior del labbro.
Aura Twarowska? After the Liber scriptus proferetur haunted by the scaffold in Un ballo in maschera, she has continuously developed an emotional state that was obvious in the end (Agnus Dei and Lux Aeterna). Superb.
As for Sorina Munteanu, only words of praise. Maybe she was the most solemn of all, but she recalled Aida in Quid sum miser, and ended with the famous Libera me exactly as everyone wanted, perfectly.
All these were possible due to Tiberiu Soare, an accompli opera conductor, a force that makes enthusiasm a permanent and essential presence. I saw him mastering everything, singing with everybody on stage (he knows all the Requiem’s words by heart, bravo!), so that nothing went wrong. Was it an opera? No. It was like the play in Pagliacci, by Leoncavallo, it was a funeral mass sung in an opera, a scene not yet written, but credible for all Verdi’s dead characters.
Because what is missing from La traviata, what was not dramatized from Alexandre Dumas-son’s La dame aux caméllias, is precisely the scene that opens the novel, where Marguerite Gautier dies and passes through all funeral rites. Verdi could not take these scenes in his opera, but his empathy for Violetta, the victim of society’s hypocrisy, in fact the victim of us, the audience, made that he paid his last respects to La Dame aux camélias here, in this Requiem.
For Marguerite. And for Rodrigo. And for Gilda. And for their entire world.
[…] of season at the Atheneum, too, with the same program as for the final performance of the National Radio Orchestra: Verdi’s Requiem, two weeks later. Of course, one cannot avoid comparisons. In a country that […]