Verdi's Requiem more like an opera 

Stephen Bennett and Teresa La Rocca will perform in the DSO's production of Verdi's famous Requiem

Darwin Symphony Orchestra artistic director Martin Jarvis believes Verdi’s famous Requiem should be considered more like an opera than music for a funeral mass.

“What makes the Requiem different is that it is actually an opera,” says Associate Professor Jarvis, who is also head of music at Charles Darwin University.

“It’s as intensely operatic as any Verdi’s operas such as Rigoletto and Aida, filled with spine-chilling, highly-charged and dramatic music, especially in the Dias Irae or Day of Judgement movement at the beginning which is quite frightening,” he says.

“Anyone who loves Verdi, the human voice and opera will love the Requiem.”

The DSO presents Verdi’s masterpiece at the Entertainment Centre on 4 November as the final concert for 2006. Jarvis says he has long wished to program the Requiem but the vast musical forces required to bring it off, he had to wait until the DSO had reached its full maturity.

“It’s taken about 15 years to reach this stage, but I think we’re ready for it,” he says.

The Requiem demands a choir of about 100—which meant an exhaustive auditioning process to find so many choristers around Darwin—and four vocal soloists who have had to be imported from other States. Add to that an orchestral strength of about 80 musicians—including eight trumpeters—and you get some idea of the grandeur of Verdi’s work, first performed 1874 to mark the first anniversary of the death of Italian novelist Alessandro Manzoni, whom Verdi had met in 1868.

“Verdi was a great admirer of Manzoni and decided to write the Requiem to honour him,” says Jarvis.

The vocalists are professional opera singers with impressive track records in productions both in Australia and overseas. Tenor Rosario La Spina is a Queenslander who has performed lead roles in Madama Butterfly, Verdi’s operas Il Trovatore and La Traviata and many more after training at the famed La Scala opera house in Milan.

Stephen Bennett performed as principal bass with Opera Australia before becoming a freelance artist with State opera companies. He is now a lecturer in voice at the Australian National University’s School of Music, and continues to appear in operas, concerts and recitals.

Adelaide-raised mezzo soprano Kathryn Dineen began her career in Europe and has appeared in many German opera houses. She is now a renowned singer of the music of Kurt Weill and Cole Porter. Soprano Teresa La Rocca also comes from Adelaide, where she appeared in many productions for State Opera of South Australia. She made her Opera Australia debut in The Magic Flute and has toured the country with OzOpera’s productions of La Boheme and Carmen.

Sydney conductor Nicholas Routley will guide the orchestra through the drama and passion of the Requiem.

* Further information from Martin Jarvis on 8946 6532.