Friday, December 13, 2013

It's all about VERDI!

Today's entry is all about Maestro Verdi! As one of the featured composers in our 'Tri-City Gala' concert, our blog today explores how our singers feel about the maestro, their favourite Verdi operas, and why they believe that his compositions have endured for so long!  Enjoy!

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AG: Andrew Greenwood | NB: Natalie Burdeny
SS: Sunny Shams | AS: Arianna Sovernigo
Giuseppe Verdi
Which Verdi opera is your favourite?

AG: Hmmm. So hard to choose. It is usually the one I'm working on! But if I had to choose, it would be a toss up between Macbeth and Rigoletto. Which is so unfair, because there are so many I haven't studied yet. Il Trovatore is amazing. Also Simon Boccanegra.

NB: Rigoletto is my favourite, then Il Trovatore... Of course I'm biased towards the characters I can play, but I think the quartet from Rigoletto as well as the "Storm Trio" are some of my favourite parts of that opera.

SS: Oooh. It's a toss-up between La Traviata and Rigoletto. I love both!!! I love to sing the Duke in Rigoletto. It's a role I'm currently learning. I could listen to Rigoletto a million times and never get bored!  Although, most of Verdi's operas are like that for me.

AS: At the moment La Traviata but as I get to know new operas that I haven't heard before I constantly change my mind. I'm usually really passionate about what I am currently learning.
The 'Ricordi' covers of the favourite Verdi operas of our singers

Why do you think Verdi is such a draw for audiences and singers alike?

AG: So many things. His inherent sense of drama and theater, his orchestration too. Sometimes the orchestra is almost a character; or at least portrays the inner thoughts and feelings of the characters. With the orchestra, he can set up a mood instantly.  And of course the amazing melodies! He wrote so exquisitely for the voice!!!

NB: His music is big and dramatic, plus I think he wrote really well for the voice. Not to say that it is easy music, but his lines make sense.

SS: He was so particular about choosing certain librettos and using certain librettists.  He was so detailed in his work and really understood human pathos.  He made a connection with his audiences through the music.

AS: The emotion behind the music. He has these moments written in the music that sound like sobs or laughter or anger and then it is reflected in the voice. People are always drawn to what touches them emotionally. And truly even though his operas were written for specfic time periods the circumstances of what would happen today are still relavant emotionally if not physically.

"My heyday is over, and another must take my place. The world wants something new. Others have ceded their places to us and we must cede ours to still others... I am more than happy to give mine to people of talent like Verdi." - Donizetti. What do you think Verdi learned from his predecessor?

AG: I think Verdi carried on the ‘bel canto’ tradition from Donizetti. Maybe he was influenced by Donizetti's melody writing and orchestration abilities. 

NB: Donizetti was clearly a wise man. This is a business about tradition, and "passing the baton" as it were. We learn from our predecessors to get to a point where we are able to confidently put our own stamp on the traditional works. We can't move forward before understanding the past. I think this applies to all facets of life, however when it comes to art and music, I think it takes a thoughtful artist to recognize when it is time to hang up one's hat, and an even more courageous artist, who freely passes on his/her own knowledge for the advancement of the art. 

SS: I think Verdi definitely learned a lot from his predecessor in how to write character traits. Again, Verdi was so prolific in writing character traits, and you hear each character in their themes, and the way they sing in ensembles and arias. They all have their own personality in the writing.  As well as he really learned about using the full potential of the libretto to really keep the drama of the story moving and fluid.  

AS: That is an amazing quote. It's something we can all learn from. I think Verdi would have been very humbled by such a gracious gesture from Donizetti and done all he could to live up to that respect. Which undoubtedly he did.  He took opera to the next level and made it more real, less farcical. Even in the comedy there is always a truth behind it and that truth is reflected not just in words and the voice but in the orchestra and stage directions.  

Andrew Greenwood as Amanasro/ Tamara Haskin as Aida
Verdi's Aida
Theater für Niedersachsen Hildesheim 2011

Verdi just celebrated his 200th birthday this year, and is widely considered to be one of the very best composers in history.  However, he listed his profession on official documents as 'Farmer' not ‘Composer’.  Do you have another profession?

AG: Fire lieutenant with Vancouver Fire and Rescue. It's always neat to see the reaction from the guys from work when they hear me perform.

NB: Interesting, I didn't know that. I have in fact had an entirely other career outside of music. I used to be a programmer and project manager for a Fortune 500 company. I spent endless hours writing programs to move financial data from A to B. I quite enjoyed it, and it gave me a really great grounding for the business of "opera".

SS: I am also a barista/baker by day! Opera singer by night!  My parents have had a cafe/bakery on Vancouver Island in Sidney for almost 20 years now, so I've grown up around coffee. I've also worked in Vancouver for Starbucks and Blenz. Done the coffee thing for about 11 years now! I also worked for about 3 years with Apple. As a specialist in Apple products in their retail stores. I've always loved Mac.

AS: Yes, I am a social media director for the swimming pool construction company called ALKA POOL CONSTRUCTION, and I teach singing. In my spare time I design websites.


Join us for the next installment where we chat with our singers about Bizet and Donizetti!  

And once again, we hope to see you at our concerts in White Rock, Vancouver and Sechelt!

~ VanCOCO… "all about the music" 

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