Times Herald-Record

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

REVIEW

Hudson Opera Theatre Chorus and Orchestra performs a rousing ‘Requiem’

 

Sunday afternoon at the United Presbyterian Church, the Hudson Opera Theatre Chorus and Orchestra, conducted by Ron De Fesi, performed Verdi’s “Requiem,” his marvelous setting for the Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead.

 

By JAMES F. COTTER

Posted Sept. 23, 2014 @ 2:00 am

 

Sunday afternoon at the United Presbyterian Church, the Hudson Opera Theatre Chorus and Orchestra, conducted by Ron De Fesi, performed Verdi's “Requiem,” his marvelous setting for the Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead.

 

Operatic in scope, it is a profoundly religious work, expressing deep emotions of dread and acceptance, peace and longing for eternal rest in its epic undertaking. Soprano Leilah Dione Ezra, mezzo soprano Korin Kormick, tenor Adam Cromer and bass Steven Fredericks provided solos and combined voices throughout the seven-movement work. Each possessed a clear, well-trained and attractive delivery. The 36-member chorus and 46 instrumentalists under De Fesi's vigorous leadership gave a strong, memorable performance that reached heights of power rarely heard in music.

 

The opening “Requiem” involves the Introit with the full chorus invoking the prayer for rest accompanied by an ominous death march, followed by each soloist in turn singing the “Kyrie eleison.” The 10-part “Dies Irae” opens with the chorus sounding a note of terror at the day of doom to bass-drum explosions and thunderous timpani and brass. It becomes a refrain repeated three times in the course of the dirge. Angel trumpets echo in the “Tuba mirum” passage that follows. The bass has the first solo with “Mors stupebit” announcing the end like an angel of death. The mezzo proffers the Book of the Dead in “Liber scriptus,” and she is joined by the soprano and tenor for “Quid sum miser,” a cry of near despair. Solo quartet and chorus with orchestral support ask for mercy from “Rex Tremendae,” the wonder King.

 

Soprano and mezzo join for the “Recordare,” to remind the Lord of his gift of salvation, with its cello-accompanied climax. The tenor next solos in “Ingemisco,” a guilty plea to be forgiven and numbered among the sheep and not the goats, while the deep-voiced bass begs to be saved from the flames in “Confutatis maledictis” to confound the wicked.

 

Trios and quartets weave into the verses, and the soloists mourn "that day in tears" in a climactic “Lacrymosa” with heartrending emotion. The terror-driven scene concludes with a heartfelt prayer to “Pie Jesu, Domine.” The Offertorium calls on the soloists and instrumentalists to “offer Thee this sacrifice,” while the Sanctus takes the form of a fugue in praise of the Lord who comes. The Agnus Dei begins with soprano and solo singing a cappella, then introduces the full chorus. “Lux Aeterna” has the mezzo, tenor and bass sing with strings, winds and brass reflecting the heavenly light. The final “Libera me” starts like a chant and features the soprano singing a cappella, then with chorus and orchestra, as well as a fugue and bass-drum beating out the gloriously resonant recapitulation.

 

Music lovers should not miss this performance next weekend at Sugar Loaf. Andrew Martens, who was unable to sing on Sunday, is scheduled to be the bass soloist.

 

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