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Tribute to Italy at #EnescuOnline: Verdi’s Requiem performed by the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra and Choir

The George Enescu Festival and Competition opened its online series with Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem, performed by the Orchestra and Choir of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, under the baton of Fabio Luisi, who returned at the conductor’s desk for one last performance with the ensemble, especially for the 2019 George Enescu Festival. The four soloists are soprano Hibla Gerzmava, mezzosoprano Veronica Simeoni, tenor Piero Pretti and bass Riccardo Zanellato.

Considered to be one of Verdi’s most important vocal-symphonic works, the Messa da Requiem had its first performance in Basilica San Marco, in Venice, in 1874, under the musical direction of the composer. Even though applause was inacceptable in church at the time, the audience’s delight was palpable and overwhelming. Concerts ensued at venues such as Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Opéra Comique in Paris, Royal Albert Hall in London, where the profound message about death, judgment, redemption, and resurrection left a lasting impression on the audience.

The Maggio Musicale Fiorentino is a festival organized yearly in Florence, under the auspices of the Opera di Firenze. The festival occurs between the end of April and the beginning of June, hence the name “Maggio” (May). Founded in April 1933, it was the first music festival in Italy, with the main purpose to present Italian contemporary or rediscovered operas. Initially, it celebrated the idea of “joie de vivre”, to highlight the metaphorical rebirth brought about by spring. Dancing, music and theatrical performances paid homage to the season of blossom and joy, and to overcoming winter with its sadness and gloom.

Since its inception, the Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino has performed within the Firenze Opera’s seasons, therefore, even to this day, many internationally renowned conductors, as well as the audience, hold the ensemble in high regard. From 1969 to 1981, Riccardo Muti was the orchestra’s permanent director, followed by Zubin Mehta, as musical director starting from 1985 (and lifetime honorary director, from 2006) and Fabio Luisi (2018-2019). Starting from the 1950s, the orchestra has made numerous recordings and had frequent radio and television appearances. It received prestigious awards, including a Grammy in 1990.

The concert we offered took place on September 16th, 2019, at the Grand Palace Hall in Bucharest, in the frame of the George Enescu International Festival.