Highly Recommended Concert: 40! (The Verdi Chorus Fall 2023 Concert in Santa Monica)

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by Tony Frankel on October 25, 2023

in Concerts / Events,Music,Theater-Los Angeles

The Verdi Chorus’ 40th Anniversary season continues with its landmark Fall 2023 Concert, 40! Led by Anne Marie Ketchum, who is celebrating forty consecutive years as Artistic Director of the organization (now THAT deserves an exclamation point!), the Verdi Chorus is the only choral group in Southern California that focuses primarily on the dramatic and diverse music for opera chorus. The program will feature selections from Saint Saëns’ Samson and Delilah, Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, and three Verdi operas (Nabucco, Don Carlo, and La Traviata).  Four guest soloists join the concert: soprano Julie Makerov, mezzo soprano Audrey Babcock, tenor Alex Boyer, and renowned baritone Roberto Perlas Gómez, who, with over 100 roles to his credit, has performed extensively throughout the United States. In her 22nd year with the Chorus, Laraine Ann Madden will be at the piano.

Ms. Ketchum says, “This concert is such a landmark event, not only for the chorus and audience members who have been with us from the very beginning, but for new opera enthusiasts we are welcoming for the first time on both sides of the concert stage. It’s remarkable to me that the Verdi Chorus, which began as a group of passionate amateur music lovers in 1983 at the old Verdi Restaurant in Santa Monica, has evolved to a major nonprofit force in the Los Angeles classical music scene. Dedicated to performing opera choruses in concert, the Verdi Chorus is made up of young professional opera singers, serious students of opera and non-professional music lovers from all walks of life.  It is diverse in so many ways, including race, age, style, gender, food preferences, religion, favorite color…but the one thing that binds all of these people together is a common love for great classical music and opera, and the desire to make it come alive in concert with the highest standards possible.”  

Along with Saint Saëns and Verdi, the chorus will delve into the thrilling world of verismo opera, which is focused not on mythological figures, or kings and queens, but on the much earthier daily struggles and emotions of men and women, and of the emotionally charged, and sometimes violent situations that can result. The program ends with selections from the verismo opera that started it all — Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, which will be offered on January 20, 2024, the first time the Verdi Chorus presents an opera in its entirety. The Verdi Chorus prepares for concerts with rehearsals every Monday night. There, an amazing thing happens as over 60 singers gather from every walk of life to become the Verdi Chorus. This wide swath of people includes singers from 18 to 87 who come from a variety of professions, and yet have one thing in common: the desire to sing side by side each week and delve into the rich, dramatic world of opera. They in turn 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. Each rehearsal is like a vocal master class.

poster by Angel Marrero
photo of Verdi Chorus by Tim Berreth 4o!
The Verdi Chorus Fall 2023 Concert
First Presbyterian Church, 1220 2nd Street in Santa Monica
Saturday, November 18 at 7:30; Sunday, November 19 at 4
for tickets ($10-$50), visit Verdi Chorus

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