Presented by the combined choirs of Duke Chapel Choir, Duke Chorale & the Chamber Choir of the Choral Society of Durham



Kelley Nassief, Soprano 

Stacey Rishoi, Alto

Eric Margiore, Tenor

Grant Youngblood, Bass

conducted by


"The Great Day of His Wrath", 1853 – John Martin




Sunday, April 10

4pm at Page Auditorium, Duke University

A stunning intersection of the sacred and secular, this choral masterwork sees the traditional Requiem Mass text set in the idiom of Romantic Italian opera.

Some answers from the Choral Society
about this performance:

Some answers excerpted from Wikipedia

Three combined choirs, soloists, and a full orchestra. Wow. How in the world do you pull all that off?

It's a lot of hard work for everyone involved. It requires focus, time and talent, and a dedicated, inspired conductor to pull it all together. And we love it!

What is the Requiem, exactly?

The Messa da Requiem is a musical setting of the Roman Catholic funeral mass (Requiem) for four soloists, choir and orchestra by Giuseppe Verdi. It was composed in memory of Alessandro Manzoni, an Italian poet and novelist whom Verdi admired. 

Were there female soloists at the time Verdi wrote this requiem?

When the Requiem was composed, female singers were not permitted to perform in Catholic Church rituals (such as a requiem mass). However, from the beginning Verdi intended to use female singers in the work.

At the time of its premiere, the Requiem was criticized by some as being too operatic in style for the religious subject matter. 

As to the music qua music, the critical consensus agreed that the work displayed "fluent invention, beautiful sound effects and charming vocal writing." Critics were divided between praise and condemnation with respect to Verdi's willingness to break standard compositional rules for musical effect, such as his use of consecutive fifths.

Was the Requiem well-received at its debut?

What was the most memorable performance?

The Requiem was performed 16 times between 1943 and 1944 by prisoners in the concentration camp of Theresienstadt (also known as Terezín), in the most dire circumstances, under the direction of Rafael Schächter. (Schächter was later deported and murdered at Auschwitz.)

What was happening in the political and art scene around 1874?

The Impressionist art movement was launched at its first exhibition by Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, and Alfred Sisley, in defiance of the art establishment.  Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis received a U.S. patent for blue jeans with copper rivets. The first typewriter with a QWERTY keyboard was introduced. The bloody and ruinously expensive Third Carlist War was underway in Spain, as liberals and conservatives battled for control of the country. In the US, the Chicago Fire burned down 47 acres of the city. The Panic of 1873, a financial crisis that triggered a depression in Europe and North America, started in 1873 and lasted until 1879, and even longer in some countries. 

Verdi was a supporter of the Italian unification movement. France had withdrawn its garrison from Rome in 1870 to join the Franco-Prussian War, and the Italian army reclaimed Rome after a battle with the Pope's forces. 

Please join the conversation on our page on Facebook, and add what you know about the composers and artists that were helping shape this time in history!

Who was Giuseppe Verdi?

Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi (1813–1901) was an Italian composer
of operas.

Verdi was born near Busseto to a provincial family of moderate means, and developed a musical education with the help of a local patron. Verdi came to dominate the Italian opera scene after the era of Bellini, Donizetti and Rossini, whose works significantly influenced him, becoming one of the pre-eminent opera composers in history.

You can find out more about Guiseppe Verdi here.

Here's a 1967 video of Verdi's Requiem

with some notables you may recognize:

Photo courtesy of Marc Banka

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