Last Sunday night, June 21, 2009, I enjoyed a wonderful performance of Verdi's Messa da Requiem by Hong Kong Sinfonietta and Opera Hong Kong Chorus, conducted by the Music Director of the Sinfonietta, Yip Wing-sie, with the soprano Chiara Angella, the mezzosoprano Federica Proietti, the tenor Vicente Ombuena and the bass Riccardo Zanellato as the soloists at Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall.
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), probably the most well-known Italian opera composer, composed 27 operas, among which Rigoletto (弄臣), Il Trovatore (遊唱詩人), La Traviata (茶花女), Aida (阿依達), Otello (奧泰羅), Falstaff (法斯塔夫), La Forza del Destino (命運之力) and Macbeth (馬克白) are the most popular. However, his musical compositions other than operas are rare, these being some religious music and chamber music pieces, among which Messa da Requiem may be the most famous. After completing the opera Aida in 1871, Verdi had composed no new music only until he was at the age of 61 in 1874 composing Messa da Requiem in the commemoration of the death of the Italian nationalistic poet Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873), for whom Verdi had had the highest respect.
The performance of Hong Kong Sinfonietta together with Opera Hong Kong Chorus under Yip Wing-sie was highly appealing. The singing of the four soloists was very impressive as well. Nonetheless, the music of Verdi's Messa da Requiem, quite different from that of Mozart's Requiem, is rather too grand and dramatic than sorrowful and sentimental. That is why I still love Mozart's Requiem more than Verdi's piece.