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<<  -- 2 --  Teresa Verde    OH, THOSE VERDI CHORUSES!


Those Verdi Choruses are so majestic! Stirring passages of score. Nabucco. Aida. The Requiem. And more.

It was Verdi's choruses that contributed so much to Risorgimento, Italy's solidarity movement against their hated Austrian oppressors in the late 1800s. Verdi is famous for inspiring the patriotic fervor and power to free a nation. That inspiration came from the combined voices of the chorus; most often attributed to the chant of the Hebrew slaves in Nabucco. Moving and uplifting music to anyone's ears.

As the background element to the main singers, the chorus holds much importance. More than just a complementary element, they elaborate on the plot, emphasize the feelings and reflect the overall mood. They support the main singers like the arches of a vaulted dome. As an integral part of the creation, the entire opera would crumble without them.

Each soloist alone carries much weight: to portray in song and act, in voice and physical presence, both the storyline and emotional depth of each character. But the chorus brings repetition, accentuation, validation to those feelings and to the story as a whole. It drives the point home in the way a single voice can not. It's one intrument vs a whole orchestra. It's more, more, more. Isn't that what opera is all about?

In the famous aria of Bellini's Norma, 'Costa Diva', the chorus comes in softly, sotto voce, enhancing the whole feeling of the piece. Norma is the High Priestess leading her chorus of priestesses. In Macbeth the three witches of Shakespeare are expanded into an entire ensemble of female witches. The all-male chorus of both Rigoletto and Tales of Hoffmann forges a strong statement of masculinity. In Rigoletto there are very few women. The male chorus is an extension of all that the main character must endure. He is ridiculed and ostracized, by his peers, by the court, by everyone. Rigoletto's heart is broken both by the chorus and then reflected through the chorus.

I imagine that to sing in an operatic chorus is to feel a part of something greater. To combine with others to create the ultimate power that no one voice alone can achieve. The escalation of sound. The resonance of human voices multiplied. It is what draws out of me the deepest emotion. It's the power of many that makes the difference and reaches the critical mass.

I applaud the chorus in any opera!

Copyright © 23 October 2006 Teresa Verde, Seattle USA


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