Three choirs to sing music from noted operas

November 20, 2013

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Mixed Choir Concert Poster

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — More than 130 students and staff in the University of Wisconsin-Platteville's Concert Choir, University Singers and Chamber Choir will sing music from noted operas throughout history at the Fall Mixed Choir Concert on Saturday, Nov. 23 in the Richard and Helen Brodbeck Concert Hall in the Center for the Arts at 3 p.m. General admission is $5.

The impetus of the concert is the 200th anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi's birth. Verdi was an Italian composer known as one of the two preeminent opera composers of the 19th century. He was also known as a visionary who was active in politics and he became a symbolic figure of Italy’s reunification process.

“One of the challenges in building and maintaining choral programs is ensuring we visit all styles and time periods of choral music,” said Dr. Robert Demaree, professor of music and director of choral activities at UW-Platteville. “This concert performance offers an opportunity for our choirs to pay tribute to Verdi, a truly extraordinary composer, and to the musical form of opera – a dramatic composition in which all musical parts are sung to instrumental accompaniment. Operas are fun for our choir members to sing because opera compositions tend to invoke emotions that are passionate, dramatic and amplified.”

Chamber Choir will sing opera choruses written by Verdi, Wagner, Mozart and Smetana, whose “Song to the Moon” from “Rusalka” will feature Dr. Susan Savage Day as a guest soprano soloist. University Singers and Concert Choir will perform Italian operatic works that will progress from precursors to the genre, through the earliest surviving opera still in regular performance, Monteverdi's “L'Orfeo,” to the bel canto offerings of Rossini in the 19th century.

The concert will end with two special performances. The first will be a performance of the “Scene and Prayer” from Mascagni's opera “Cavalleria Rusticana” or Rustic Chivalry. This piece will feature soprano Rebekah Demaree with the Chamber Choir singing sections in Italian, representing working class Italians in the street while the University Singers will sing a different section in Latin offstage, representing parishioners in a church.

The final selection will be “Va, Pensiero” from Verdi's opera “Nabucco” (Nebuchanezzar). This famous chorus is sung in the opera by a chorus of Jewish men and women who had been kidnapped from Jerusalem and taken to Babylon as slaves. It became an anthem and rallying cry for the people of Italy in the late 1800s as they were going through the “Risorgimento,” which was an attempt to reunify the city-states of Italy.

“Verdi’s ‘Va, Pensiero’ was a metaphor for what was happening in Italy at that time,” said Demaree. “Beloved by the people of Italy for his political action to further the reunification of the country, he became a world-renowned symbol for the Italian reunification efforts. At Verdi's funeral, an estimated crowd of over 10,000 broke into song with this piece as a sign of respect for him.”

The UW-Platteville Chamber Choir is the university’s premier, mixed choral ensemble, conducted by Demaree. The ensemble tours each year in the fall and performs demanding repertoire showcasing a variety of historical genres and styles.

University Singers is a mixed choir of approximately 50 voices, conducted by Dr. Trey Davis. The ensemble tours regularly and performs works from diverse areas of the world including all musical periods.

Concert Choir is a non-auditioned, large mixed ensemble, conducted by Davis. The ensemble performs works from diverse areas of the world including all musical periods.

Contact: Dr. Robert Demaree, UW-Platteville Department of Performing and Visual Arts, (608) 342-1446, demaree@uwplatt.edu

Written by: Laurie A. Hamer, UW-Platteville College of Liberal Arts and Education, (608) 342-6191, hamerl@uwplatt.edu

 

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