Music Preview: A VERDI PUCCINI FEST (The Verdi Chorus Fall 2022 Concert in Santa Monica)

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by Tony Frankel on October 12, 2022

in Music,Theater-Los Angeles

A SMORGASBORD OF OPERAS ON ONE PLATE

The Verdi Chorus will present its Fall 2022 concert A Verdi Puccini Fest for two performances only at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica, Saturday, November 12 at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, November 13 at 4:00 pm. As the only choral group in Southern California that focuses primarily on the dramatic and diverse music for opera chorus, their program will feature operatic sequences from Verdi’s I Lombardi, Don CarloRigoletto and La traviata, and Puccini’s TurandotLa bohèmeSuor Angelica, Tosca, La fanciulla del West, and La rondine.

“In terms of the opera chorus,” Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum says, “Verdi wrote for the chorus as an actual character and force in what the leading characters were saying and doing, and Puccini wrote musical tones and hues for the chorus to illustrate more deeply the story being told.”

THE VERDI CHORUS Photo by Tim Bereth

This thoroughly professional outfit always sounds amazing. Over 50 singers from 18 to 80 who come from a variety of professions have one thing in common: the desire to sing side by side and delve into the rich, dramatic world of opera. They are joined by up-and-coming opera singers at the beginning of their careers, and college students who have just begun to realize their operatic gifts, as all of them become one under Ketchum. Each rehearsal is like a vocal master class.

BEN LOWE

It’s such a treat to hear up-close opera choruses, as the voices can sometimes be lost when an opera is staged. And while you may not speak the languages here, you’ll understand every word! You will also hear, as guests, established opera soloists: critically acclaimed Los Angeles favorite Jamie Chamberlin Granner, praised for her “shimmering tones” and “star-struck vulnerability” by Opera News; her equally acclaimed husband, tenor Nathan Granner, one of the original The American Tenors (Sony Classical), and known for his “vibrant and flexible” voice (The Boston Globe); and renowned baritone Ben Lowe, who returns to the Verdi Chorus by popular demand and who made his New York debut at BAM in Matthew Aucoin’s opera Crossing. They and the chorus become everything from the lively entourage of Verdi’s renowned courtesan Violetta Valéry to the romanticized revelers of a bar set in Puccini’s 19th-century French Riviera, all accompanied by extraordinary pianist Laraine Ann Madden.

Ketchum continues, “The last time Ben, Nathanand Jamie sang with us together, the Sunday matinee culminated with Nathan proposing marriage to Jamie onstage to the delight and surprise of our audience … and to Jamie, who not only instantly accepted, but did so with several high C’s. To have all three of them back for this concert five years later is a dream come true.”

JAMIE CHAMBERLIN GRANNER & NATHAN GRANNER

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A Verdi Puccini Fest
The Verdi Chorus Fall 2022 Concert
First Presbyterian Church, 1220 2nd Street in Santa Monica
Saturday, November 12 at 7:30; Sunday, November 13 at 4
for tickets, visit Verdi Chorus

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