ROSSINI STABAT MATER

Nestan Meboniya, soprano, Alessandra Volpe, mezzo, Giulio Pelligra, tenor, Goderzi Janelidze, bass, Choir of the Serbian National Theatre, Al Bustan Festival Orchestra, Gianluca Marcianὸ, conductor

Wednesday, 22 February at 20:30
Venue: Saint Joseph Jesuit Church

The Stabat Mater describes the suffering of Mary, mother of Jesus, as her son is crucified. Rossini’s Stabat Mater combines two entirely different styles of composition: traditional church music in the Renaissance manner of Palestrina and Pergolesi, and arias that would not sound out of place in a typical Rossini opera. It was described as “noble, simple and severe.”

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Gioachino Rossini (1792 –1868)

Stabat Mater
Recognising where Rossini’s talents lay, Beethoven told him “never attempt to compos anything but opera buffa; any attempt to succeed in another style would be to do violence to your nature”. Nevertheless Rossini composed many non-operatic, indeed non vocal works. It is unlikely that Rossini had any intention to write a Stabat Mater; he very much admired Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and did not feel he was able to equal that. The decision to try came, in 1831-32, as a result of a plea from Spanish prelate, Fernandez Varela, who wished an original Rossini manuscrit.
Rossini agreed and was given a handsome gift in exchange. It was also agreed that under no circumstances was the score to be published: it was considered to be a gift, and no bill of sale was exchanged. Rossini had good reason for not allowing publication of the score: he was in litigation with the Paris Opera and after writing movements 1 and 5 to 9 of the eventual 10 movement work, he had a lumbago attack and gave the score to the Bologna composer, Giovanni Tadolini, to complete.
Thus the score that Varela received was only partly Rossini. It was heard once in that form, on Good Friday in Madrid in 1833. In 1837 Varela died and the score found its way into the hands of the Paris publisher, Aulignier, who asked Rossini for permission to publish it. Rossini forbade any publication or performance of the score as it stood and eventually supplied another publisher, Troupenas, with a complete all-Rossini score. The first public performance was held on January 1842 in the Salle Vantadour, Paris. The fact that the performance was not in a church was a statement in itself. This was a religious music belonging to the secular. It proved an immediate success and more performances followed. In France and Italy the Stabat Mater met with tremendous success. The first Italian performance was entrusted to Rossini’s friend, Donizetti.

But for more northern non-Latin countries the reception was less effusive. It was found too worldly, too playful and too sensuous for the religious subject. Even now it has not entirely overcome this stigma. Yet this is its importance.Written by a man not overcome by religious fervor not imbued with puritan ideals, and, although written late in the composer’s life, not written under a foreboding of death, it follows a natural evolution from the simpler, less sensuous predecessors to the more dramatic, more worldly; Rossini was pinoneering what was to come.
The scale is very much greater than the Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, which calls for only two soloists and a small orchestra. Rossini’s Stabat Mater heralds the immense proportions of Verdi compositions which were to follow.
Two movements of Rossini’s Stabat Mater are a capella, “Eja, Mater, fons amoris” and “Quando corpus morietur”. They were much admired by Wagner in later years. Verdi was very imptressed with “Inflammatus et accensus” and his Requiem is inspired by this movement.

The Stabat Mater Dolorosa is considered one of the seven greatest Latin hymns of all time. It is based on the Simon prophecy that a sword was to pierce the heart of Mary, Mother of Jesus. The hymn, sung on Good Friday, set originally to a Gregorian melody, became popular in the 13th century during the peak of Franciscan devotion to the crucified Jesus. The chant has been attributed to Pope Innocent III (d. 1216), St Bonaventure, or more commonly, to Jacopone da Todi (1230 – 1306), who is most probably the true author. Jacopone da Todi was of noble birth but a little mad and gave all his possessions to the poor, dressed himself in rags and joined the Third Order of St. Francis. He refused to be ordained and, in order to prove his sanity, wrote popular hymns. He has been beatified by the Church and is remembered on 22 December. His epitaph reads “here lie the bones of Blessed Jacopone dei Benedetti da Todi, Friar Minor, who, having gone mad with love of Christ, by a new artifice deceived the world and took Heaven by violence.

The Stabat Mater, a source of inspiration
The Stabat Mater has been a source of inspiration for composers since medieval times. Several composers have written more than one version of Stabat Mater.
Mozart composed a Stabat Mater at the age of 10 (unfortunately lost) and Schubert at the age of 18.
There are over 500 versions of Stabat Mater including those of Palestrina (1590), Caldara (1725), Pergolese (1736), Bach (1748), Haydn (1767), Boccherini (1781 & 1800), Lizst (1866), Verdi (1898), Szymanowski (1926).
Dvorak Stabat Mater, composed after the death of his litte daughter was first performed in Prague in 1880.

Nestan Mebonia, soprano
Nestan was born in Moscow.
In 2009 she graduated from the State Academic University for the Humanities (in cultural studies); in 2012 – the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts (GITIS).

In 2013 she was admitted to the Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Centre, where she performs in the productions of: Boris Godunov by Mussorgsky, Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky, Ruslan and Ludmila by Glinka, The Tsar’s Bride by Rimsky-Korsakov. In October 2014 Nestan had her blazing debut as Nedda in Leoncavallo’s opera Pagliacci.

In 2014 Nestan took part in the II International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival in Orenburg,  Empire of the opera in Izmailovo festival (Moscow, 2014), VIII International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival in Baku (2015).

She has also performed in The Magic Flute opera by Mozart at the  Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theater, as well as taken an internship at Accademia Teatro alla Scala in Milan.

Her repertoire includes: Liu (Puccini’s Turandot), Elvira (Mozart, Don Giovanni), Natalia (Tchaikovsky’s Oprichnik), Lauretta (Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi), Antonia (Offenbach, The Tales of Hoffmann), Margarita (Boito, Mefistofele), Pamina (Mozart, The Magic Flute), Wally (Catalani’s La Wally), Leonora (Verdi’s Sicilian Vespers).

Alessandra Volpe, mezzo soprano
“Young, vibrant, and beautiful,” Italian mezzosoprano Alessandra Volpe has already made a strong impact on the opera world, having made her Teatro alla Scala debut to rave reviews in Die Lustige Witwe conducted by Maestro Asher Fisch. Her United States debut soon followed, performing the role of Isabella in L’Italiana in Algeri for the Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, in which she was said to have “a bell-like voice that makes the evening delightful”. Recent engagements include performances of the title role in Carmen with Opera Lyra Ottawa and Opera Tampa, as well as Fenena in Nabucco and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni at Tenerife’s Auditorium, Spain. She also joined the Metropolitan Opera roster for their productions of I Puritani and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Recentely she sang again the title role in Carmen with the Welsh National Opera and again Carmen for the Taormina Opera festival, and Verdi’s Requiem at Coventry Cathedral; Giovanna Seymour in Anna Bolena at Auditorio Tenerife; Fenena in Nabucco directed by Emilio Sagi in Spain at Teatro Campoamor in Oviedo. Other worldwide engagements have included performances of Hedwige in Guillaume Tell at the Wildbad Rossini Festival in Germany; Emilia in Otello in her Bayerische Staatsoper debut; her Glyndebourne Festival debut in Rusalka; Madama Butterfly at the Teatro Massimo di Palermo; Maddalena in Rigoletto in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria; Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia in Santiago de Compostela; Isabella in L’Italiana in Algeri at As.Li.co., Maman, La Tasse Chinoise, and La Libellule in L’Enfant et les Sortileges, Tisbe in La Cenerentola, Jenny in Britten’s A Beggar’s Opera, in Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny, and in Debussy’s Damoiselle Elue at the Teatro Petruzzelli di Bari; Merlina in L’Impresario in angustie by Cimarosa at Opera Cortona and the Anghiari Festival; Tisbe in La Cenerentola at Reggio Emilia’s Theater; and in Norma at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia under Maestro Kent Nagano. When she made her Canadian debut for the Opera Lyra in Ottawa in Carmen under the conduction of Tyrone Paterson and the direction of Bernard Uzan, The Citizen wrote: “Alessandra Volpe was magnificent. She was born to play Carmen, and may very well be the great Carmen of our time. Her performance was enthralling and her voice sent chills down the spines of the audience”. Concert engagements have included Maddalena in Rigoletto, Tisbe in La Cenerentola (DVD Dynamic), and performances of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the As.Li.co. Other notable roles in Alessandra’s repertoire include for example Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda, Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Romeo in I Capuleti e I Montecchi, Sesto in La clemenza di Tito, and Orfeo in Orfeo ed Euridice, Sara in Roberto Devereux, Charlotte in Werther. She has worked under several revered conductors and directors, including Daniele Abbado, Evelino Pidò, Antonino Fogliani, Daniel Lipton, Sebastiano Rolli, Michele Mariotti, Myron Michailidis, Gianluca Marcianò, Joseph Rescigno, Jose Luis Gomez, Antoni Ros Marbà, Sergio Alapont, Miguel Ortega, Pier Luigi Pizzi, Bernard Uzan, Rosetta Cucchi, Curro Carreres, Emilio Sagi. Ms. Volpe graduated summa cum laude from the Conservatorio Niccolò Piccinni in Bari in piano and vocal studies. Her recordings include La Cenerentola DVD Dynamic and Guillaume Tell CD Naxos (Hedwige) and DVD Bongiovanni. Next engageements include Norma (Adalgisa) in St. Gallen Theater.

Goderzi Janelidze, bass
Goderdzi Janelidze started his education in Batumi, Georgia.
Before entering the Conservatory he studied with Maestro Marina Jakhutashvili. After successful entrance exams, Goderdzi was enrolled in her class and studied there for a year. In the same year, he was admitted to the soloist of the Opera Studio of Batumi where successfully performed the following roles: Z. Paliashvili “Daisi” –Tsangala’s role and G. Verdi opera “Traviata” – Doctor Grenvile’s role.

From the first day of the transfer to the Tbilisi State Conservatory, Goderdzi attracted the attention as a young singer with a special natural data. His voice (bass) sounds evenly across the entire range, and stores a wealth of tonal color, to which is added a scenic attraction and deep knowledge of music. Each of his statement is successful, whether it’s a concert or production carried out under the auspices of the opera studio at the Conservatory.

Goderdzi with particular success has acted in productions of the opera studio 2012-2014 seasons: Mozart “The Magic Flute” with the role of Sarastro, Verdi “Rigoletto” – role of Sparafucile, Tchaikovsky “Eugene Onegin” role of Gremin – performance in this view was noted by music lovers and connoisseurs of music as a great victory for the young singer.

In 2012 Goderdzi became a Laureate of the international competition named Lado Ataneli; and in 2014 was awarded a diploma at the international Christmas competition in Minsk.

Each performance on student concerts held under the auspices of the Conservatory is successful:
• 2011 concert class with Batumi Symphony Orchestra (conducted by David Mukeriya);
• 2012 – Orchestra music and cultural center named John. Kahidze (conductor Vakhtang Kakhidze);
• 2013 – with the student orchestra of the Tbilisi Conservatory (conductor Yuri Dadian)
• 2014 – with the Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Rezo Takidze) In 2014, after a strict selection Goderdzi was admitted to the group of trainees of Opera House in Tbilisi named after Z. Paliashvili, where he took part in several productions.

Choir of the Serbian National Theatre
The Ensemble of the Serbian National Theatre Opera Choir is well known after its high artistic qualities, and was always recognized for one of the best opera choirs in Serbia.

Thanks to the rich choral tradition in Novi Sad, the Vojvodina National Theatre (now Serbian National Theatre) could easily engage very talented singers, for its renovation after the Second World War. Since the Choir first appeared in full operatic formation at the premiere of Verdi’s La Traviata on November 16, 1947, that date is designated as the date of its foundation.

From the very beginning, the Choir, together, with the Orchestra, was one of the most reliable pillows of the Serbian National Theatre Opera. The first Opera conductor, Professor Vojislav Ilic, a competent connoisseur of the choral singing, built its physiognomy. Later conductors and co-repetitious have given their contribution to maintaining and advancing its artistic level: Milutin Ruzic, Ladislav Perldik, Vladimir Topolkovic, Mira Gligic, Ljiljana Krdzalic, Angelina Stefanovic, dr Viktor Safranek, Berislav Skenderovic, Boris Cernogubov, Eugen Gvozdanovic, Juraj Ferik, Vesna Kesic Krsmanovic and Natalija Mihajlovna Arefjeva. From time to time, some members of the ensemble have had the responsibility for conducting scenic music in some operas: Katica Filep Ferenci, Djordje Moldovanovic and Cedomir Milusic.

Performing as soloists in numerous musical genres, TV and radio programs and in various languages, the members of the Choir acquired valuable new experiences and contributed to the quality of performing.

The need to present vocally instrumental work of all époques, from the sixteenth century vocal polyphony, through Baroque to modern era, was fulfilled by founding the Vojvodina Music Center Chamber Choir in 1980. Its founder and conductor was Juraj Ferik. The Choir worked until 1989.

PhD Milena Leskovac, teatrolog
The Choir’s current conductor is Vesna Kesic Krsmanovic. In present times the Opera’s conductors are Aleksandar Kojic and Mikica Jevtic. Almost each year the Choir was rewarded with prizes on the Day of Serbian National Theatre for extraordinarily presentation on home stage and abroad.

On Opera’s repertoire last season (2015/2016): concerts for season’s beginning or finishing, New Year’s concerts, also classical program: Mozart (Magic flute), Verdi (Traviata, Nabucco, Il Trovatore), Puccini (Toska, Madama Butterfly), Orf (Carmina burana), Rossini (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Donizzeti (L’elisir d’amore), Teodorakis (Zorba the Greek) and serbian composers, such as I. Bajic (The Princ Ivo of Semberia).

Giulio Pelligra, tenor
For the biography of Giulio Pelligra, please refer to the concert of Wednesday, February 15

The Al Bustan Festival Orchestra
For the biography of The Al Bustan Festival Orchestra, please refer to the concert of Wednesday, February 15

Gianluca Marcianò, conductor
For the biography of Gianluca Marcianò, please refer to the concert of Wednesday, February 15