The Verdi Chorus: 34 years of good music

The Verdi Chorus continues their 34th season with their spring concerts entitled “All’s Fair in Love and War” at the acoustically-sound First United Methodist Church in Santa Monica on April 29 and 30.

Their Founding Artistic Director/Conductor Anne Marie Ketchum and Julliard-trained piano accompanist Laraine Ann Madden have fashioned the first half of the program with choral numbers and arias of Vincenzo Bellini’s La Sonnambula, I Puritani, and Act I and the finale of Act II from Norma.

The second half begins with the famous baritone prologue of Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci, followed by the choral opening in which the tenor protagonist welcomes the crowd.  Then the duet for Nedda and her secret lover Silvio which has become an audience favorite.

The concerts conclude with the music of Mascagni and his beloved Cavalleria Rusticana with it’s choral opening and crown the performance with the popular “Easter Chorus.”

Three gifted internationally-known soloists will be appearing:   audience-favorites soprano Shana Blake Hill and baritone Roberto Perlas Gómez, with tenor Todd Wilander also returning.  

Blake Hill had recent successes with Cincinnati Opera’s production of Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazones and her latest recording appears on the Naxos label with a performance of Chinese-American composer Bright Sheng’s latest work for soprano and orchestra The Phoenix performed with the Seattle Symphony under Gerard Schwarz. 

She also recently debuted the same work with the renowned Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Charles Dutoit.

 Wilander was a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and made his Met debut in their most recent production of Lucia di Lammermoor and returned for Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia and Beppe in I Pagliacci.

He has made a specialty of bel canto repertory as the Duke in Rigoletto and Edgardo in Lucia, both of which he has sung with the New York City Opera.

The Chorus is also proud to continue with the Apprentice Singers program that was established in 2015 in which talented vocal music students at the college level gain the opportunity to work with the Chorus in rehearsals and sing operatic music in concert.

Participants in the program for this session are sopranos Christina Roszhart and Haining Ren, mezzo-soprano  Sophie Patterson, tenor Manfred Anaya, and baritone William Vallandigham. Each receives a scholarship to provide funds with which they can broaden their music studies in many ways.

Apprentices who successfully complete the program are invited back to sing with the Chorus for subsequent sessions. Further demonstrating the organization’s mission to provide performance opportunities to young professional singers, sixteen highly promising singers are hired as section leaders and rehearsal coaches.

Also known as the Walter Fox Singers, named in memory of a long-time Chorus and Board member, these singers assist the Artistic Director, provide direction for their sections in rehearsals, and have opportunities to perform as featured singers in performances.

They also perform on occasion independently of the full Chorus, serving as a showcase for the singers and as ambassadors for the Verdi Chorus. Performances of special arias and ensembles have been presented at venues in Southern California including the Annenberg Beach House, The Broad Stage, the Huntington Library, and the Nixon Library.

Priority seating is available for $40, general admission is $30, seniors are $25, and students aged 25 and under with a valid ID are $10.  Tickets are available for purchase through the link on their website’s homepage at www.verdichorus.org or by calling (800) 838-3006.  Concerts are at 7:30pm on Saturday, April 29 and 2 pm on Sunday, April 30.

Steven Lieberman
About Steven Lieberman 27 Articles
Steven LIeberman is a veteran sports/arts/entertainment journalist. Lieberman has covered entertainment and professional sports, Including the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball, for the past 14 years. Among his entertainment work, Lieberman covers concerts, theatre and events.

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