Malaspina Choir presents Verdi’s Requiem
Malaspina Choir and the Cowichan Consort Orchestra & Choir
Date: Friday, May 4, 2018
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 301 Machleary St, Nanaimo, BC V9R 2G8
Tickets: Adults $25, Under 25 $10, eyeGO $5, under 12 free
Verdi’s celebrated Requiem has been described as a monumental, imaginative and powerfully theatrical work. He wrote it in 1873 to honour Alessandro Manzoni, Italy’s most famous 19th century author, poet and humanist, so it is often called the Manzoni Requiem. Verdi himself conducted its premiere performance on the first anniversary of Manzoni’s death in 1874.
It is probably the most frequently performed major choral work composed since Mozart’s Requiem. It was reportedly performed 16 times between 1943 and 1944 by prisoners in the Nazi concentration camp of Theresienstadt.
What accounts for the tremendous popularity of this requiem? Why do singers, musicians and audiences love the work? Because even though it is a setting of the Roman Catholic mass for the dead, it is filled with Verdi’s wonderful, soaring melodies, great dramatic and dynamic flair, thrilling orchestral writing and gloriously rich harmonies. Together these convey the full range of human emotions - terror, sadness, joy and consolation – and have led to it being called Verdi’s best opera.
Nanaimo audiences will be able to hear this iconic work for the first time in the city on Friday, May 4th, 7:30 p.m. in St. Peter’s Catholic church. Performers include the combined Malaspina and Cowichan Consort choirs, guest soloists Gary Relyea bass, Benjamin Butterfield, tenor, Betty Allison soprano, and Anna Relyea mezzo-soprano with the Cowichan Consort orchestra under the direction of Robert Mari.
Betty Allison (soprano) grew up in Ladysmith, B.C. and attended the University of Victoria, graduating with degrees in both music and education. She joined the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio in 2006.
Leading assignments in Ensemble productions included Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Donna Elvira in Gazzaniga's Don Giovanni, and Mona in the world premiere of James Rolfe's Swoon. On the mainstage she covered and performed a wide range of roles. Included among these are the High Priestess(Aïda), Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Annina (La traviata), Luisa Miller (Luisa Miller), Turnspit (Rusalka), Freia (Das Rheingold), Marguerite (Faust), the Countess (Le Nozze di Figaro), Tatyana (Eugene Onegin), and Amelia (Simon Boccanegra).
Other engagements include the Countess (Le Nozze di Figaro) with the Centre for Opera Studies in Sulmona Italy, and the title role in The Cunning Little Vixen at the Banff Centre.
Betty represented Canada in the Stella Maris Vocal Competition, and she was a regional finalist at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in Pittsburgh, a Silver Medal winner in the Czech Slovak International Competition, received the Grand Prize at the Ottawa Choral Society New Discovery and West Palm Beach Opera competitions and is a laureate of Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques.
Estonian-born mezzo soprano Anne Relyea has performed with the Canadian Opera Company, in CBC's TV and CBC Radio specials, and as a soloist in concert works with the Kitchener Waterloo Philharmonic Orchestra, Windsor Symphony and the Newfoundland Symphony. With choral organizations such as the Iseler Singers, Amadeus Choir, Orillia Cellar Singers, London Fanshawe Concert Choir and Stratford Concert Choir, she has performed in such works as Handel's Messiah, Haydn's Creation, Mendelssohn's Elijah and St. Paul. With the Vancouver Bach Choir she sang in their Canadian premiere performance of Delius' Requiem.
She has performed in many recitals, community concert series and music festivals in a duo with her husband bass-baritone Gary Relyea. In 1992 they were joined by son, bass-baritone John Relyea and sister-in-law, mezzo soprano Deanna Relyea, forming Voices Relyea. Since John left the group to establish his own solo career in the mid-1990’s, Voices Relyea performances (as a threesome) have included the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and several times at Music Niagara, most recently touring Toronto, Bayfield and Music Niagara with their “Evening of Opera” show.
In March, 2015 Anne debuted with Opera York singing the role of 2nd Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Since moving to Victoria a few years ago she has performed with the Cowichan Consort Orchestra and Choir as alto soloist in Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Mozart’s Requiem and Handel's Messiah. Returns to Ontario were for performances of Handel's Messiah, Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass and Mendelssohn's Elijah. Most recently, Anne and Gary produced - and sang - in a benefit concert event for SickKids Hospital in Toronto called "We're Still Singing" where all the performers were either cancer survivors and/or their loved ones. The stunning Quartetto Gelato were featured guest artists.
Anne has been on the voice faculties of both University of Guelph and the University of British Columbia and now teaches privately from their home in Victoria.
She and Gary are grateful to the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations to live as a settler in their unceded territory and to have the opportunity to work towards Reconciliation particularly through volunteer work with Dogwood, Stop Site C, RAVEN and Cleansing Our Waters.
Benjamin Butterfield (tenor), praised by The New York Times as, “clarion-voiced and vibrant”, is recognized internationally as one of Canada’s finest tenors having performed in opera, concert and recital throughout North America and Europe as well as in Ukraine, the Middle East, Asia and New Zealand. He has performed in many of the world’s most recognized and historic venues with the world’s finest ensembles and conductors.
Recent engagements include Jeffrey Ryan’s Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation with Rune Bergmann and the Calgary Philharmonic, Mozart’s Requiem with the Baltimore Symphony under Marin Alsop and Yevhne Stankovich’s “Kiddish” Requiem at the Kyiv Opera with the Hamburg Symphony under Oksana Lyniv. Mr. Butterfield also recently sang for Canadian composer John Beckwith’s 90th Birthday celebration in Toronto performing his Avowals and Stravinsky’s In Memoriam Dylan Thomas with Robert Aitken and New Music Concerts. Other concerts in the 2017 – 18 season include Carmina Burana with Bramwell Tovey in St. Louis and Vancouver, Bach’s St. Mathew Passion in Montreal and will be performing Bach’s Bm Mass as well as recording works of Bach and Handel for Analekta with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem.
Mr. Butterfield recently recorded the Schönberg/ Rhien transcription of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde for Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival and a sixth CD of Ukrainian art song for the Ukrainian Art Song Project in Toronto (MuiscaLeopolis). He has been recognized by the Juno Awards and has won Diapason and R9 Classica awards in France.
Professor Butterfield is head of voice and Co-head of Performance for the School of Music at the University of Victoria and is on faculty with Opera Nuova in Edmonton as well as at the Amalfi Coast Music Festival in Italy.
Gary Relyea (Bass), born in Highland Park, MI, naturalized Canadian 1972, studied piano at the University of Michigan and voice 1967-71 with Howell Glynne and Louis Quilico at the University of Toronto.
Renowned for the richness of his voice and his compelling musical insights, he is one of the most distinguished artists currently before the public. He has thrilled audiences in Britten's War Requiem, Handel's Messiah, Mahler's Symphony No. 8 and Verdi's Requiem with prestigious orchestras including those of Cleveland, Philadelphia, Montreal, Toronto, Baltimore, Detroit, San Francisco, Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa's National Arts Centre Orchestra.
Mr. Relyea performs extensively in opera, singing such roles as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor and Friar Laurence in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette. His debut as Rocco in Beethoven's Fidelio coincided with the release of his CBC disc featuring scenes from Boris Godunov and Lucia di Lammermoor with the Vancouver Symphony, conducted by Sergiu Commissiona and Bruce Pullan. And much more..