Opera Scotland

Messa da Requiem 1982Edinburgh International Festival

Read more about the opera Messa da Requiem

The two most recent Edinburgh Festival Verdi Requiems, in 1969 and 1974, were conducted by the wonderful Carlo Maria Giulini, who always seemed to find some spiritual aspect to nearly everything he worked on.  Returning to the piece for the 1982 Festival, it was consigned to the hands of a younger long-term favourite, Claudio Abbado, with his London Symphony Orchestra.  The Edinburgh Festival Chorus was now under the guidance of John Currie, and still in magisterial form.  As with the two Giulini events, the work was performed twice, on successive evenings, both immediate sellouts.

There was a further aspect to this enterprise, unusual then and unthinkable now, when the London Proms dominate classical broadcasting through the summer.  The BBC filmed one of the performances and transmitted it.  Indeed the performance was later released on DVD - not just a souvenir of the occasion, but an excellent document of the work in its own right.

The quartet of soloists was undoubtedly of magnificent quality.  Tenor José Carreras was making his only appearance at the Festival - how sad that he never sang opera in Scotland.  The bass Ruggero Raimondi had done that, and Verdi's Attila was a thoroughly enjoyable vehicle for him a decade earlier, but this Requiem saw him at his peak.

The ladies were of equally special quality, and rather more unexpected.  Two of the world's greatest sopranos, Dame Margaret Price and Jessye Norman, had sung together in the previous year's St Matthew Passion, with the wonderfully rich tones of the American taking the alto solos.  Here they were again.  Jessye Norman was actually a substantially more frequent visitor to Scotland that was Dame Margaret.  The great Welsh soprano was based in Germany, and rarely sang in London, never mind Scotland. The purity of her tone and the richness of Norman's blended perfectly together.

And Claudio Abbado was a masterly conductor, in seemingly effortless command.

Performance DatesMessa da Requiem 1982

Map List

Usher Hall | Edinburgh

22 Aug, 20.00 24 Aug, 20.00

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