Stabat Mater by Gioachino Rossini and Other Sacred Compositions by Italian Opera Composers
With The Larimer Chorale Orchestra
Kimberli Render, soprano; Genevieve Baglio, mezzo-soprano; John Robert Lindsey, tenor; and Jeffrey Seppala, bass-baritone
After composing thirty-nine operas, Gioachino Rossini retired from opera composition and turned his attention to sacred choral music. His greatest composition in this genre, perhaps, is the powerfully dramatic Stabat Mater (There Stood The Mother Grieving). This concert will also feature other Italian opera composers and their sacred compositions in honor of Mary, the mother of Jesus:
Kyrie ("Messa di Goria") by Giacomo Puccini
Pater Noster by Giuseppe Verdi
Easter Scene (Cavalleria Rusticana) by Pietro Mascagni
Program Notes -
When Gioachino Rossini heard the Stabat Mater of Renaissance composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, he is said to have declared that he would never write one of his own, so moved was he by the setting of his predecessor. True or not, Rossini did set the Stabat Mater, in 1831, at the request of Don Francisco Fernandez Varela, archdeacon of the Madrid Cathedral, whom he met while visiting that city. Rossini agreed on condition that the work never be published. When Varela died in 1837, a Paris publisher, Antonin Aulagnier, bought the manuscript from his estate and sought permission from Rossini to publish it. Rossini refused, not wanting to admit that only six of the original twelve movements were his own (Rossini had asked his friend and colleague Giovanni Tadolini to complete the rest, and Varela was none the wiser). After a lengthy legal fight, partially occasioned by the fact that Rossini had promised his own publisher a complete Stabat Mater of his own, Rossini triumphed over Aulagnier. He completed the remaining movements, shortened the whole from twelve to ten sections and finished it in 1841. The text of the Stabat Mater is a ten-part poem written by Jacopone da Todi (1228-1306). It describes the suffering of Mary, mother of Jesus, as her son is crucified. The rhyme structure for each verse is AAB, and the syllabic structure is 887. Musically, Rossini’s composition combines two entirely different styles of composition: traditional church music in the Renaissance manner of Palestrina and Pergolesi, and arias that would not sound out of place in a typical Rossini opera. The austere choral movements contrast sharply with the purely operatic style of the solos and duets. The chief criticism of the piece is that it is too theatrical. Heinrich Heine championed Rossini's Stabat Mater and wrote: “The [theatrical] approach is said to be too worldly, too sensuous, too playful for the religious subject, too light, too pleasant, too entertaining; these are the groaning complaints of a few heavy, boring critics. Although these gentlemen do not pretend to exaggerated spirituality, they surely are plagued by very limited and erroneous conceptions of sacred music. … The sign of a truly Christian element in art is … a certain inner profusion to which one cannot be converted and which cannot be learned in either music or painting.”
Giacomo Puccini, best known for his operas La Boheme, Tosca and Madame Butterfly, actually began his musical career as a composer of church music. Puccini wrote his Messa (commonly known as Messa di Gloria) in 1880, at the age of 18, as part of his graduation requirements for the Institute Musicale of Lucca, Italy. The mass is composed for four-part chorus and orchestra with tenor, and bass soloists and it features expressive vocal lines and dramatic and emotive outpourings of sound; perhaps more like opera than sacred choral music. Although praised by critics, Messa di Gloria disappeared from the choral repertory until after World War II. It now holds a unique place as one of the monuments of sacred choral music from the late Romantic period in Italy.
The text for Giuseppe Verdi's setting of the Lord's Prayer, Pater Noster, is attributed to Dante. It is similar in style and layout to a version of the Lord's Prayer in CantoXI, lines 1-24 of Purgatorio (the second of the three sections in Dante's La Divina Commedia), where souls in the first of the seven circles of purgatory are making amends for the sin of pride. The resulting vivid and dramatic text is ideally matched by Verdi's colorful and emotive setting, composed in 1880 for five-part choir. Apart from the well-known Requiem of 1874, very little of Verdi's choral music is performed in English-speaking countries. Though his choral output was small, it reflects much of the boldness and finesse of his finest opera choruses. - Judith Blezzard.
Pietro Mascagni's compositional reputation rests entirely with one short opera, Cavalleria Rusticana (Rustic Chivalry). The opera is considered by many to be the first verismo (realistic) opera and was written by Mascagni for a competition organized by the music publishers, Sonzogno. Cavalleria tells of love betrayed and a jealousy that leads to a duel and death in a Sicilian village. All of that drama aside, this evening we present the famous "Easter Scene" sung by a choir inside the church and a chorus of villagers in the town square, gathering for mass on Easter morning.
KIMBERLI RENDER, SOPRANO
Lyric soprano, Kimberli Render, originally from Columbus, Georgia, never dreamed of a career in opera. Now she can be seen performing throughout the Colorado area, the United States, and abroad. Her voice has been praised for her effortless and rich tone. In the spring of 2014 she made her American debut as Liu in Opera Fort Collins production of Puccini’s Turandot. Recent operatic performances include the role of Hanna Glawari in Colorado State University’s production of The Merry Widow by Franz Lehar, Elisetta in Cimarosa’s Il matrionio segreto, the Governess in Benjamin Britten’s Turn of the Screw, Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen, and Lucinda in Sondheim’s Into the Woods. She has also been seen performing Mozart’s Coronation Mass and the soprano soloist for Bach’s Magnificat under the baton of the world-renowned conductor, Helmuth Rilling. Ms. Render was a feature performer on the “Broadway and Beyond” concert with Metropolitan Opera baritone, Stephen West. In the summer 2012, Ms. Render made her international debut singing the role of Donna Anna in Opera Orvieto’s production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. In 2011 Ms. Render completed two Bachelors of Music degrees in Music Education and Vocal Performance at Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music. Ms. Render went on to complete a masters degree in Vocal Performance at Colorado State University in 2013. As a Graduate Teaching Assistant, she had the invaluable experience of teaching voice classes and private voice lessons. Currently, Ms. Render has a private voice studio and is teaching adjunct at Colorado State University and Front Range Community College. She is a Georgia certified music educator, who enjoys sharing her passion for music and life both in the classroom and on stage.
GENEVIEVE BAGLIO, MEZZO-SOPRANO
Lauded for her “warm, rich mezzo voice and well-timed comic charm”, mezzosoprano Genevieve Baglio is an active performer in the Western United States, with recent performances in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California and Colorado. Recently, her solo performances have included the role of Erica in Vanessa with Boulder Opera, Kate in The Pirates of Penzance with Opera Idaho, Dido in Dido and Aeneas with Divertimento Opera, Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music, The Witch in Into the Woods, and the one woman opera Bon Appétit! for which she was advised directly by composer Lee Hoiby. Her recent concert engagements have included solos in the Mozart Requiem with the Consort Columbia, Handel’s Messiah with the Richland Oratorio Society, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the Idaho-Washington Chorale, and Bach’s Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit, in concert with Katherine Goeldner. A native of the Pacific Northwest, Genevieve received her BM in vocal performance at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA. She went on to study at the Boston Conservatory of Music, and received her MM in vocal performance from Western Washington University. Genevieve currently lives in Colorado with her husband and much loved gaggle of pets.
JOHN ROBERT LINDSEY, TENOR
Known for his intense characterizations and expressive vocal ability, tenor John Robert Lindsey is a dynamic singing actor. During his time as a Resident Artist with Minnesota Opera, he performed in 15 productions over 3 seasons. Past engagements include Marvin Heeno in the world premiere of the revised Dream of Valentino by Dominic Argento, Malcolm in Macbeth, Count Elemer in Arabella, Edmondo in Manon Lescaut, Pang in Turandot, Ismaele in Nabucco, Goro in Madame Butterfly, Jonathan Dale in the Pulitzer Prize winning production of Silent Night by Kevin Puts, Don Jose in Carmen, Sam Polk in Susannah, and the character of Stage Manager in Our Town by Rorem. On the concert stage, he has performed as Tenor Soloist in Parables by Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfein, the Mozart Requiem, the Mozart Mass in C Minor, and Messiah by Handel. He was selected to workshop the lead tenor role in The Manchurian Candidate by Kevin Puts, which is slated to debut as a full production at Minnesota Opera in 2015. Upcoming performances include returns to Minnesota Opera for La Fanciulla del West and The Manchurian Candidate, as well as Salome with The Dallas Opera and Opera San Antonio.
JEFFREY SEPPALA, BASS-BARITONE
Jeffrey has performed around the country with companies such as Central City Opera, Opera Colorado, Tri-Cities Opera, Delaware Valley Opera, A.J. Fletcher Opera, CU New Opera Workshop, and the Piccolo Festival in Friuli, Italy. He is equally convincing on the stage and in concert hall. Mr. Seppala honed his craft through a Bachelor of Music degree from Biola University, a Masters in Music degree from the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, as well as singing with various Opera training programs. He is now near completion of his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Voice Performance and Pedagogy at the University of Colorado in Boulder