What happens when more than 50 singers gather together from all walks of life to become the Verdi Chorus? In a word: magic! This wide swath of folks includes singers aged 22 to – gasp – 80, all coming from a variety of professions, and yet they have one thing in common: the desire to sing side by side each week and delve into the rich, dramatic world of opera. They are also joined by emerging opera stars, as well as college students who have just begun to realize their operatic gifts, with all of these singers coming together under the direction of Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum. In essence, each rehearsal is like a vocal master class.
Celebrating 35 years, Verdi Chorus was founded in 1983 at the Verdi Restaurant in Santa Monica, but when the restaurant closed in 1991, a funny thing happened – the Verdi Chorus continued. In 1999, the chorus was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and has become a force in the L.A. classical music community. In addition, the chorus is able to provide career development opportunities for young professional singers, with its repertoire including over 300 choruses from 81 operas in seven languages.
The two concerts, April 28-29, at Santa Monica’s First United Methodist Church, will feature four guest soloists: soprano Shana Blake Hill, hailed by Opera News for her “flood of glorious sound,” mezzo-soprano Karin Mushegain, called “superb” by The New York Times, tenor Alex Boyer, celebrated in the San Francisco Chronicle for his “grit and vocal power,” and baritone Ben Lowe, who returns to the Verdi Chorus by popular demand and who recently made his New York debut at BAM in Matthew Aucoin‘s opera Crossing. Included on the bill are favorite excerpts from Verdi’s La Forza del destino, La traviata, Nabucco, and beloved melodies from Strauss‘ Die Fledermauss.
Says Anne Marie Ketchum: “I am so excited to be honoring the 35th season of the Verdi Chorus and to celebrate our thirty-five years of music making. The literal translation of Verdi’s La Forza del destino is “The Force of Destiny” and this could not be more apt in relation to the ongoing longevity of the Verdi Chorus. When the Chorus was launched in 1983, there was no way of knowing what we would grow into as a performing arts organization. We’ve not only outlived the restaurant, we have also become a force in the L.A. classical music community and are proud to be able to provide career development opportunities for young professional singers.”
For tickets and more information on the Verdi Chorus click here. And by the way, the Verdi Chorus concert last November proved to be quite the love affair – not only between the audience and singers, but also between two notable soloists: soprano Jamie Chamberlin and tenor Nathan Granner, the latter, who, after performing a duet with Chamberlin, got down one one knee and proposed. She accepted and a December wedding is planned. (Chamberlin can be seen as Isolde in Long Beach Opera‘s upcoming production of The Love Potion by Frank Martin, May 13 and 19.)
Verdi lovers will also be flocking to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in May (12, 16, 19, 27, 31) and June 3, for the Los Angeles Opera return of the the composer’s Rigoletto, conducted by Aucoin and originally staged by Mark Lamos in 2010. This is Verdi at his most emotional: Click here for tickets.
Springtime and Verdi – what could be better!