THE HANGOVER REPORT – Maestro Levine leads Verdi’s mighty REQUIEM, the Met’s moving (if coincidental) memorial to the great Dmitri Hvorostovsky

Verdi's "Requiem" at the Metropolitan Opera.

Verdi’s “Requiem” at the Metropolitan Opera.

Last night, I attended a concert rendition of Verdi’s great Requiem at the Metropolitan Opera. The piece, Verdi’s attempt at a Catholic Mass for the Dead, is dramatic and harrowing. It often times transcending its liturgical purpose to address the inherent tragedy of the human condition (just listen to the apocalyptic “Dies irae” or the existential angst of “Libera me” sections on YouTube). It’s long been one of my favorite choral masterworks, and when performed well, there are few experiences in all of Western classical music as visceral and gripping.

Therefore, I selfishly felt grateful when it was announced that, due to budgetary reasons, the Met would be replacing a new production of Verdi’s La forza del destino with concert performances of his Requiem led by maestro James Levine. Little did we know, however, that the four-performance run of the mighty mass would coincide with the death of the great Russian baritone Dmitri Hvoronovsky, who passed away after a long bout with brain cancer just days before the commencement of the Requiem‘s brief run. As a result, the Met has tastefully dedicated these performances to his memory.


The atmosphere at the opera house was solemn last night. Even before the performance began, I was already moved by the reverence displayed by the audience and staff. Unfortunately, Mr. Levine’s conducting was oddly devoid of excitement, as if he were afraid of (or above?) riding the work’s emotional and musical extremities. Nevertheless, this was still a moving tribute. The Met Orchestra sounded as strong as ever, and in particular, the chorus was glorious. However, the soloists – tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko, mezzo soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk, soprano Krassimira Stoyanova, bass Ferruccio Furlanetto – valiantly if unevenly grappled with the work’s punishing vocal demands (Antonenko, intonation problems; Stoyanova, underpowered).



Opera / Classical Music
The Metropolitan Opera
1 hour, 25 minutes (without an intermission)
Through December 2

Categories: Music, Opera, Other Music

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