Exeter Philharmonic Choir: Verdi

Saturday 18 March 2017 at 19.30

The second masterwork of the Exeter Philharmonic Choir season brings the drama of Verdi’s Requiem to the Cathedral. 

After Rossini’s death in 1868, Verdi suggested that a number of Italian composers collaborate on a Requiem in Rossini’s honour. Much to Verdi’s disappointment, the project came to nothing and the Libera Me he had composed remained unperformed.

On 22 May 1873, the Italian writer and humanist Alessandro Manzoni died. Verdi had admired him ever since he read his famous novel I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed) as a teenager, just as Italian school students read it today. On hearing of Manzoni’s death, Verdi wrote to his publisher Giulio Ricordi, “I shall propose something to honour his memory.” That something was the Requiem Mass, which included a revised version of the Libera Me originally composed for Rossini.

Audiences received the work rapturously in Milan, Paris and Vienna but, although it was a success in London, there were some reservations about the theatrical nature of the music. (Interestingly Handel’s Messiah was criticised for precisely the same reason.) Theatrical it certainly is. It was composed a year after Aida, and Verdi was working in the operatic idiom in which he always expressed high emotions and human experience, whether sacred or secular.  

George Bernard Shaw was a great admirer of the work and had the Libera Me played at his funeral.

Ticket information

Tickets – £22 £17 £12 ( *Supper Club £49)

Please visit the choir's website for more information. 

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