The Verdi Chorus announces the Spring 2022 concert scheduled for May
The Verdi Choir begins its 39th season with its Spring Concert, Hélas mon cœur, for two performances only at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica on May 14 and 15. Led by Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum, the Verdi Choir is Southern California’s only choral group primarily focused on dramatic and diverse music for operatic chorus.
This programme, which Ketchum says includes “some of the most dramatic moments from some of the most powerful operatic works”, will include selections from two Verdi operas – Ernani and Macbeth, Beethoven’s Fidelio and sequences from La Gioconda. by Ponchielli and Andrea Chénier by Giordano. There will also be excerpts from Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann.
On the program, three guest soloists: soprano Julie Makerov, whom the Huffington Post declared “triumphant” in her interpretation of Senta in Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer with Los Angeles Opera; tenor Todd Wilder, hailed by The New York Times for his “brave and vocally assured performances” and who has returned for eight seasons so far with the Metropolitan Opera; and the famous baritone Roberto Perlas Gómez who, with more than 100 roles to his credit, has performed across the United States.
These performances are made possible, in part, through the generous support of the Sahm Family Foundation, The Green Foundation, and The Colburn Foundation, and through grants from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, and the City of Santa Monica through the Santa Monica Arts Commission.
Conductor Anne Marie Ketchum says, “The title of this program, Alas My Heart, seems appropriate in many ways. As well as being the title of one of the finest sets of Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann, the phrase itself, “Alas, my heart” encapsulates both the losses we have all suffered over the past two years and the bittersweet hope of what lies ahead as we kick off our 39th season. It is a strong and moving program that our three sensational guest artists, Julie Makerov, Todd Wilderand Roberto Perlas Gómez, along with our choir of more than forty people, will bring a rich and electrifying life.”
Ketchum continues: “Our first half, with selections from Verdi’s Macbeth, will range from the powerful ‘Patria oppressa’ which sings of a land now lost, to a powerful piece for a large ensemble, ‘Sangue a me’. Our second half includes music by Ponchielli. La Gioconda with Roberto Perlas Gómez at the head of the choir in the catchy air of the fisherman “Pescator”, followed by Todd Wilderinterpretation of the movingly beautiful aria “Cielo e mar”. Giordano’s Andrea Chénier will offer Julie Makerov in the radical and dramatic aria “La mamma morta”. We will end our program with excerpts from Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann, always an audience favourite.” In the final piece, a muse implores the artist to keep creating saying “we are made strong by love and made stronger by our tears”.
The Verdi Choir is preparing for concerts with rehearsals every Monday evening. There, an amazing thing happens as more than 40 singers from all walks of life come together to become the Verdi Chorus. This wide range of people includes singers from 18 to 80 years old who come from various professions, and yet have one thing in common: the desire to sing side by side each week and immerse themselves in the rich and dramatic world of opera. . They are in turn joined by up-and-coming opera singers at the start of their careers and students just beginning to realize their operatic gifts, as they become one under the leadership of founding artistic director Anne Marie Ketchum. Each rehearsal is like a vocal master class.
Raising their voices together, they become everything from the strange witches of Macbeth to the inner voices of courage in The Tales of Hoffmann.
Further demonstrating the organization’s mission to provide performance opportunities for young professional singers, sixteen highly promising singers are hired as section leaders and rehearsals. Known as the Fox Singers, named in memory of longtime choir and board member Walter Fox, these singers assist the artistic director, lead their sections during rehearsals, and have the opportunity to perform as featured singers during performances. The Fox Singers also occasionally perform independently of the full choir, serving as a showcase for the singers and ambassadors of the Verdi choir. Performances of arias and special sets have been performed at venues throughout Southern California, including the Annenberg Beach House, the Huntington Library, and the Nixon Library.
The Choir is also proud to continue the Apprentice Singers Program which was established in 2015 in which talented vocal music students at the college level have the opportunity to work with the Choir in rehearsals and sing music from opera in concert. Each receives a scholarship to provide funds with which they can expand their musical studies. Sahm Foundation apprentices who successfully complete the program are invited to return to sing with the choir for subsequent sessions.
The apprentices for this session, named in honor of a generous grant from the Sahm Family Foundation, are sopranos Amelia DeCoster, Meagan Carlson and Ariana Flores, and mezzo Bianca Gutierrez.
Performance times are Saturday, May 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 15 at 2:00 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica, located at 1220 2nd Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Tickets go on sale April 1, 2022 .