Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Steven Lieberman
Observer Reporter 

Verdi Chorus To Perform In Santa Monica This Month

 

April 13, 2015

The Verdi Chorus takes great pride in announcing the continuation of its 32nd year with their spring concert entitled Hidden Gems.

On April 25 and 26 they will present a gala recital of some wonderful, but infrequently done works, along with a few familiar favorites at the First United Methodist Church of Santa Monica.

Hidden Gems is an apt title for their latest program because they'll be performing pieces that have been popularized by other media, mostly from film and television, but aren't normally presented within their proper musical context.

In the first half of the concert they celebrate the music of their namesake Giuseppe Verdi with exciting arias and selections from his early works, Il corsaro and Un giorno di regno, followed by ensembles from his French Grand opera I Vespri Siciliani, and then his final tragic masterpiece for the lyric stage, Otello.

After intermission they'll move toward other late 19th century fare with arias and choruses from Amilcare Ponchielli's popular La Gioconda, Umberto Giordano's neo-romantic Andrea Chénier, and Alfredo Catalani's rarely performed but instantly recognizable La Wally.

Their finale will be exciting excerpts from Pietro Mascagni's beloved Cavalleria Rusticana including its famously expansive "Easter Hymn."

The Chorus is pleased to welcome back three gifted soloists for this concert starting with soprano Rebecca Sjöwall, who made a stunning first appearance with us in the fall of 2012. She has since made an important debut with Pacific Opera Project in the leading role of the Governess in Benjamin Britten's The Turn of the Screw where she was lauded by the Los Angeles Times for her "vocal power."

Recently, she has also sung two important contemporary works for Nashville Opera, first in David Lang's The Difficulty of Crossing a Field and then last season as Mrs. P. in Academy

Award-winning composer Michael Nyman's opera The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. She was then invited to participate in a commercial recording of her role with the Nashville company and it awaits release this year.

Ms. Sjöwall is also a two-time District Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and served two seasons in the esteemed Studio Artist program with Arizona Opera. Her beautiful singing voice can also be heard on the soundtrack for the popular video game '"BioShock."

They are also grateful for the return of tenor Robert MacNeil, who has been praised by the Los Angeles Times for possessing a voice that is "clarion" and "clear."

After making his recent San Francisco Opera debut as the High Priest of Neptune in Mozart's Idomeneo, he returned to perform in its productions of Strauss's Salome, Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro and in Massenet's Werther, of which Opera News said Mr. MacNeil "sang with panache."

MacNeil also performs regularly with LA Opera and appeared in its ground-breaking production of Franz Schreker's Die Gezeichneten, which was recorded by the Bridge Records label.

An accomplished artist on the concert platform, he has been soloist in more than 60 performances of Handel's Messiah and has also been presented by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in performances of Mendelssohn's Elijah.

He has sung with the Sydney (Australia) Choral Festival in the Berlioz Requiem and in Orff's Carmina Burana with the Central Union Philharmonic in Beijing. He made his Carnegie Hall solo debut in Britten's The World of the Spirit and appeared in Rome with the Orchestra Roma Symphonia in Verdi's Requiem.

MacNeil was also a National Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

The Chorus is proud to re-engage the talented baritone Museop Kim, who is an alumnus of LA Opera's Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program where he sang Mercutio in Gounod's Romeo et Juliette and Schaunard in Puccini's La bohème.

Kim just concluded performances there as the English Ambassador in their acclaimed production of Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles. He has appeared with the Seattle Opera, Wolf Trap Opera as Escamillo in Carmen with the National Symphony Orchestra, and the Aspen Music Festival has featured him as Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor.

Other roles he has performed include Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas, Marcello in La bohème, Ford in Verdi's Falstaff, and the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni. Mr. Kim was a winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council New York District.

Guided by Anne Marie Ketchum, and with the magnificent support of their accompanist Laraine Anne Madden, their soloists and the Chorus promise to make these performances among the most exciting in their 32 years before the public.

Please make sure to mark your calendars for April 25 and 26 so you don't miss this sublime musical event. Priority seating is available for $40, general admission is $30 and seniors are $25. Students 25 and under with a Valid ID are $10.

Tickets can be purchased from Brown Paper Tickets by clicking on the link on their website at http://www.verdichorus.org or by calling 800-838-3006.

They perform in the magnificent acoustics of the First United Methodist Church of Santa Monica, 1008 11th Street, Santa Monica at 7:30 pm on Saturday, April 25 and 4 pm on Sunday, April 26.

 

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