Music al fresco

As part of this week’s Israel Opera Festival, the orchestra of the Arena di Verona, conducted by Giuliano Carella, will perform Verdi’s ‘Requiem’ at the foot of Masada and a gala evening with its soloists in Jerusalem.

Verona 311 (photo credit: Yossi Zwecker)
Verona 311
(photo credit: Yossi Zwecker)
Giuliano Carella says he is more than happy to do his business outside. In his capacity as conductor of the renowned orchestra of the Arena di Verona, in Italy, Carella presides over numerous outdoor concerts during the ensemble’s busy summer season when it performs at the eponymous venue.
This evening (8:30) the orchestra and a handful of stellar soloists will join forces with the Israeli Opera Chorus at the Sultan’s Pool opposite the Old City of Jerusalem walls for a tailored popular program of arias and duets by such frontline composers as Rossini, Puccini and Verdi.
Tomorrow evening the same lineup will be augmented with the Tel Aviv Philharmonic Choir in a performance of Verdi requiem at Masada.
The soloists in both concerts will be soprano Svetla Vasileva, mezzo soprano Mariana Pentchava, tenor Stefano Secco and bass Louis-Ottavio Faria. Not a bad team for a couple of programs of stirring music at commensurately striking locations.
“We are all delighted to be coming to Israel, and to perform at Jerusalem and Masada,” says Carella.
“I have conducted at the Israeli Opera but I have only been to Jerusalem and Masada as a tourist. I think performing there is going to be a special experience for all of us.”
The conductor says both programs were handpicked to please us.
“These are wonderful occasions to perform some of the most important works in our Italian repertoire in Israel. It is a very popular program and we have some great artists with us.”
Carella will certainly have plenty of firepower at his behest for the Masada concert, as the composer would have wanted. The work was originally written for an orchestra, four soloists and two choirs.
“We will have around 120 voices for the concert. It will be a very strong sound,” says the conductor.
“The sanctus section, for example, is written for two choirs. I think it also makes it more interesting that we have an Italian orchestra and two Israeli choirs. It is a very beautiful work and Masada is a special place.”
GIVEN THE nature of the work Masada, with its deathly history, seems a fitting location. Verdi’s Requiem was written as a tribute to Italian writer and humanist Alessandro Manzoni whom Verdi admired for many years and who died in 1873.
Originally, however, Verdi wanted to create a requiem in honor of Rossini, who died in 1868.
The following year Messa per Rossini was compiled by 13 composers, with Verdi contributing the final part called “Libera me.” The premiere was set for November 13, 1869, the first anniversary of Rossini’s death, but just nine days before the concert the organizing committee abandoned the project. The work he eventually wrote for Manzoni includes a revised version of “Libera me.”
Then again, Carella has a more positive take on the morbid theme.
“I always think of death as a new sign of life.”
Not having spent any time at Masada in a professional capacity Carella will take a close look at the acoustic surroundings before embarking on the rehearsals.
“I don’t think there will be any problems there. I have been told the acoustics there are very special,” he says before he recalling his ensemble’s outdoor pedigree.
“Music in the open air is the most beautiful thing you can imagine. To share this with the public is so wonderful.
This orchestra has a lot of experience of playing in the open air, at our 16,000-capacity arena in Verona. I think this is the most important orchestra with experience of playing in the open air. We want to take the same emotion we have there and bring it to Israel.”
Giuliano Carella and the Arena di Verona orchestra will perform at Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem this evening at 8:30 and tomorrow at Masada at 10 p.m.