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Verdi’s Requiem serves as marriage song
Listen, they’re playing our song. It may sound a bit off the wall but Verdi’s Requiem is really our song. 55 years ago, when I was courting Alice, we did adopt the Requiem, as our special song. For the final Classical Concert of the season, the Maestro Neal Gittleman and the Dayton Philharmonic recognized our marriage by playing it – just for us - and a few thousand others.
There are many who claim that Verdi’s Requiem Mass eclipses his great operas. There are many who say that it is an opera. All would agree that this music feeds the soul and inspires the spirit.
The Philharmonic filled the stage with its excellent musicians. Hank Dahlman provided a chorus of 120 strong voices. Four soloists completed the ensemble to near perfection.
The history of how Verdi, at the pinnacle of his success and in a self-declared retirement, decided to compose the Requiem is a slice of Italian and music history. I prefer to concentrate on the glorious music and the equally glorious performance.
The remarkable acoustics of the Schuster is an equal partner in the success of the Philharmonic and the Dayton Opera. It is also a dangerous hall in which to perform. The beauties of the music are clear and thrilling. Any mistakes are also painfully evident.
It is to the credit of Maestro Neal and his musicians that they can perform the demanding programs so well. The spontaneous standing ovation after the last haunting notes of the Libera me attest to this.
The work is a liturgical Latin mass for the dead. It joins a long list of musical masses. Verdi understood the stage; he created great operas that will live forever. He combined this passion and genius with his ardent desire to memorialize one of his icons, Poet Alessandro Manzoni.
There are musical moments so delicate that the words are mere whispers and the orchestra plays sotto voce. There are many moments of such grandeur that the very seats vibrate. These contrasts blend together into an unforgettable fabric.
I have never heard a bad performance of Verdi’s Requiem. I have never heard one better than the Philharmonic’s.
The chorus sang with every nuance demanded from the range of the work. The soloists continued this passionate excellence. Bass-baritone Charles Robert Austin had a sweetness to his voice making his supplications seem so genuine. In the Lacrymosa section, the bassoon doubled his vocal line exquisitely.
Soprano Rachel Rosales sang thrilling sustained high notes. The magnificent power and presence of mezzo-soprano Kathleen Clawson and the ringing tenor of Richard Crawley elevated their selections to the pinnacle of performance excellence.
I could describe each section in glowing terms. The orchestra played with élan, and virtuosic excellence. The blaring trumpets, the introduction of the Domine Jesu by the celli and the very busy tympani of Donald Donnet deserve special kudos.
And, kudos to Maestro Neal for playing our song.
The Philharmonic concert ended a week long period of great theater and dance. The Dayton Playhouse mounted the Merrill/Styne musical Funny Girl. Having seen the lackluster film, I expected little – I got very much.
Director Chris Harmon assembled a wonderful cast and the on-stage orchestra led by Annette Looper made the music sizzle. A clever and highly kinetic set let each scene flow seamlessly.
As Fanny Brice, Becky Barrett-Jones was a gem. She had many songs and delivered them with high energy and vocal appeal. Renee Frank-Reed and Jason Collins sparkled in their roles as Fanny’s mother and the song and dance man who supported his beloved Fanny through it all.
Dayton Playhouse moves from strength to strength. July 25-27 is their acclaimed FutureFest - non-stop theater, non stop enjoyment.
Gem City Ballet
Speaking of future, a company dedicated to future dancers had an amazing concert. Barbara Pontecorvo’s Gem City Ballet showcased their young talents and the choreography of Rodney Veal, Reginald Harris, Barbara Pontecorvo and emerging star Kayleigh Gorman.
These well-disciplined and highly trained dancers are always awe-inspiring. Several are bound for professional ballet and will be important additions to any company. Victoria Bek and Kayleigh Gorman have exciting offers and certainly deserve them. Others have preceded them and others will follow.
Dayton Theatre Guild mounted Donald Mamet’s Boston Marriage. Veteran actor and director Saul Caplan picked two local theater superstars, Elena Monigold and Lisa Sadai to learn the voluminous wordy pages of Mamet’s highly convoluted play. He added, in debut, his daughter Sarah as the maid and foil of the principal characters.
Dressed in magnificent turn of the century costumes, Elena and Lisa gave their characters life and zest in a play which was often confounding to the audience. Sarah had most of the comic lines and situations and did them wonderfully.
I think I know what the play was about. I know there was fine acting and real theater happening on the Guild’s intimate stage.
Giving Strings moving to Shafor Park
The 7th Annual Giving Strings Concert will be held on August 9, 2008 at 7 p.m. Each year, the Giving Strings Orchestra, composed of amateur, professional, and student musicians, performs a non-profit concert in Oakwood for a local charity.
When Givings Strings first began, the concert was held on Lonsdale Avenue, where Julia and Colleen Judge held a neighborhood concert with friends. Over the past seven years, the orchestra has grown to over 100 musicians. This year, the benefit concert will take place at Shafor Park in Oakwood.
This new location will provide the musicians and spectators with a spacious performance area and is a central location for all of Oakwood. If you have questions or are interested in playing in the Giving Strings Orchestra, please contact Clara or Ingrid Hofeldt at (937)293-5753 or (937)901-7152.