Verdi Opens New SASO Season

Guest conductor Dimitar Karaminkov will lead the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra in the opening concert of the 2013-2014 season on October 5 and 6. The program will include Verdi’s Sinfonia(Overture) to Nabucco, Concerto for Cello by Roumi Petrova with Kalin Ivanov soloist, and Symphony No. 2 by Borodin.

Giuseppi Verdi was the dominant composer of Italian Opera in the Nineteenth Century and was a contemporary of Richard Wagner in Germany. Verdi would succeed Bellini, Donizetti, and Rossini, following in Italian Opera tradition by making few revolutionary changes, where Wagner, influenced by Beethoven, Berlioz, and Liszt would drastically change German Opera’s direction. Both had successful careers and Verdi composed 28 operas, 15 of which have regular performances to this day.

Verdi’s first opera, Oberto had some success at Milan’s La Scala and while working on a second, his two daughters and his wife died in a three month period. Being in a state of depression, he found composing most difficult and in 1840 Un giorno di regno was a flop. He was talked into going back to work and selected a historical-biblical libretto: Nabucco(English Nebuchadnezzar,) a Babylonian King who defeated and dispersed the Jews from Israel. This would be the opera that insured his career. Verdi was idolized by the average Italian and his operas were championed by Arturo Toscanini. This writer lived in New York City in the 1950’s and remember hearing Italian opera in businesses like bakers, barbers, tratorias, tailors, and countless others.

Giuseppi Verdi has an interesting name as it translates in English to Joseph Green. Joe Green is included in Agatha Christie’s play Evil Under the Sun and Victor Borge in his comedy theater routines said that Verdi’s real name was Joe Green and Giuseppi Verdi was only a stage name.

Included in his catalogue are some of the greats of all opera: Rigoletto, La Traviata, IL Trovatore, Aida, and Nabucco. Verdi also composed other nonoperatic works and the most well known and respected was his requiem which incidentally has the loudest bass drum stroke in all music.

Many operas have an orchestral only introduction prior to the curtain, called an overture. SASO will open this season opening concert with an overture, which Verdi called Sinfonia, to Nabucco. Trombones open the work with a solemn fanfare followed by a loud tutti intrusion for 6 measures then returning to the trombone statement. The second theme is a fast trot tune of five notes. Then comes the main theme in a slow 3 time that opera lovers look forward to: Va pensiero sull’ ali dorate which the orchestra repeats. In the opera this music is the Chorus of Hebrew Slaves and audiences become ecstatic, sometimes forcing the chorus to be repeated. The fast allegro second theme returns and the trot turns into a military gallop as a finale. All the themes in this overture are part of the opera. After hearing this overture, Rossini’s influence is obvious.

This concert will be presented at Desert View Performing Arts Auditorium on Saturday October 5 at 7:30 PM and on Sunday October 6 at 3:00 PM at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Oro Valley.

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