Just allow me one last blog on the background to the Verdi Requiem and then I’ll shut up about that. It’s just that it turns out to be more interesting than I expected. Or perhaps I just need to get out more.
Anyhow, as I mentioned in my last blog, Verdi’s Requiem, or to give it its official title “Messa da Requiem per l’anniversario della morte de Manzoni, 22 Maggio 1874″ was written as a personal reponse to the death of one of Verdi’s great idols, the poet Alessandro Manzoni, author of the popular novel I promessi sposi (“The Betrothed”).
Verdi revered Manzoni and was deeply saddened by his death so it is no surprise that he wanted to honour him in some way through his music. It is possibly a tad strange though that he chose to write a requiem mass to do this. Manzoni was deeply religious but Verdi himself was agnostic – his wife thought him an atheist who laughed at her when she spoke of religion. Verdi of course was known as an opera composer – he had written no sacred music before, apart from his contribution to the Rossini requiem project. One can only speculate on Verdi’s reasons for trying his hand at a full-scale sacred work at this time: it may be that he felt this was simply a fitting way to commemorate his hero, or that he sensed an opportunity to salvage something from the work he had put into the Rossini requiem. It may even be that there were commercial considerations involved. But whatever his reasons it seems clear that Verdi used the opportunity of working with the familiar sacred text to explore some of his own ambivalent attitude towards the power of prayer.
But back to the present. With luck and a following wind we will shortly be unveiling the design for the posters and flyers for this concert. Followers of this blog will see them first…..