Hold onto your hats and marvel at Verdi’s monumental Messa da Requiem with the cast of your dreams: Jessye Norman, José Carreras, Margaret Price, and Ruggero Raimondi bring their storied talents to the four solo spots alongside the London Symphony Orchestra, led by Maestro Claudio Abbado in this transcendent 1982 recording from the Edinburgh International Festival.
Perhaps it was inevitable that a requiem written by the most operatic of composers would take on an intensely dramatic character not often seen in pieces written for ecclesiastical settings—and indeed, though Verdi’s Requiem was an instant success with audiences and critics, a small number of detractors claimed that such dramatics were unbefitting of an ostensibly liturgical work.
This landmark recording makes it immediately apparent that the drama of the Verdi Requiem is one of the chief reasons for its place of honor as one of the most frequently performed large-scale choral works ever written. Sometimes called an “opera in disguise,” its striking shifts in tone appear to trace a storyline—especially in the recurrence of the “Dies Irae,” epic and terrifying, and in the trajectory of the soprano (here, the sublime Price) who, in the final “Libera me,” seems to take on the role of “a beleaguered heroine trying finally to make sense of the world in which she has been cast” (Grove Music).
Krassimira Stoyanova (soprano), Veronica Simeoni (mezzo-soprano), Francesco Meli (tenor), Georg Zeppenfeld (bass) — Zurich Ballet
With Zarina Abaeva, Eve-Maud Hubeaux, Dmytro Popov and Tareq Nazmi