Rossini Stabat Mater
Music by Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868)
Premiere: Paris, Salle Ventadour, 7 January 1842
What tenor with a secure high D flat could resist singing the “Cujus animam” from Gioachino Rossini’s Stabat Mater at some point in his career? And the fact that the aria No. 8 of this liturgical work, “Inflammatus et accensus”, was sung by such sacred monsters as Kirsten Flagstad and Birgit Nilsson, makes one quickly understand that Rossini, although he had stopped writing operas more than 10 years before conceiving this work, could not help composing true vocal jewels that might just as easily have found their place in a splendid five-act opera!
From its first performance at the Salle Ventadour in Paris in 1842, Rossini’s Stabat Mater aroused the enthusiasm of the crowds. Although Richard Wagner and some German critics found his music too secular for a sacred subject, the rest of Europe did not hold back its delight and has loved the work to this day.
The Stabat Mater is also a perfect opportunity for a choir to show the many facets of its talent. Under the direction of Stefano Visconti, the Monte Carlo Opera Choir will prove that it not only shines when on stage, but that it also possesses the suppleness which the sacred and concert repertoire require.
MONTE CARLO PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
Gianluca Capuano has been principal conductor of Les Musiciens du Prince-Monaco since 2019. He studied the organ, composition and conducting at the Conservatory in his hometown of Milan and went on to specialize in early music at the city’s Scuola Civica. He also studied theoretical philosophy at the University of Milan. He has appeared as a soloist and as a conductor throughout Europe, the United States, Russia and Japan. In 2006 he founded Il Canto di Orfeo, an instrumental and vocal ensemble with which he performs a wide-ranging Baroque repertoire, working with some of the finest musicians and singers active in the field of historically-informed performance practice. Gianluca Capuano came to international attention in August 2016, when he stepped in at short notice to conduct Norma with Cecilia Bartoli on the opening night of the Edinburgh Festival. Bartoli then invited him to conduct further performances of Norma at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and in Baden-Baden as well as a European tour of La Cenerentola with Les Musiciens du Prince-Monaco. He has also conducted Ariodante and Il turco in Italia in Monte Carlo, Orfeo ed Euridice for the Rome Opera, Il matrimonio segreto for the Dutch National Opera, Guillaume Tell at the Chorégies d’Orange, Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, L’elisir d’amore at the Teatro Real in Madrid, La Cenerentola and Iphigénie en Tauride in Zurich. Gianluca Capuano made his Salzburg debut at the 2017 Whitsun Festival, conducting Les Musiciens du Prince-Monaco in Ariodante and a concert performance of La donna del lago, following this up in 2018 with a recital of arias associated with the legendary tenor Manuel García and sung by Javier Camarena. Highlights from this programme were released on CD. His second CD for Decca, an album devoted to the legendary Pauline Viardot showcasing mezzosoprano Varduhi Abrahamyan and Les Musiciens du Prince-Monaco was released april, 2021. Plans include: L’italiana in Algeri at the Zurich Opernhaus; Il turco in Italia and Die Zauberflöte in Munich; L’eisir d’amore in Hamburg; Il barbiere di Siviglia and a gala concert at the Salzburg Festival; La Cenerentola in Martigny, Zurich and Vienna; Il turco in Italia, L’elisir d’amore, Don Pasquale, Il barbiere di Siviglia and a gala concert in Vienna; Alceste in Rome.
Born in Livorno (Italy) in 1960, Stefano Visconti studied the piano and then choral conducting with Fosco Corti and Roberto Gabbiano, as well as orchestra conducting with Piero Bellugi and Giancarlo Andretta. He was appointed Choirmaster at Opéra de Monte-Carlo in 2007. Before this he was Choirmaster at the Teatro Goldoni, Livorno (1991-2001), Choirmaster at the Opéra-Théâtre d’Avignon (2001-2007), as well as Choirmaster at the Festival Puccini, Torre del Lago (1999-2015). From 1984 to 2001 he conducted the Guido-Monaco Polychronic Choir of Livorno which, under his direction, won several national awards (Vittorio Veneto, Arezzo and Florence competitions). In 2000 he founded the Chamber Choir of Tuscany, formed of professionals. He directed the reconstitution of the complete sacred works of Giuseppe Cambini for soloists, choir and orchestra. Since 2008 he has conducted the choirs of the Sanxay Lyrical Evenings. He is the artistic and music director of the Monte-Carlo Chamber Choir. He has made several recordings with Foné, Agora and Kikko Classic, in particular several of Mascagni’s operas (L’amico Fritz, I Rantzau, Lodoletta, Guglielmo Ratcliff, Silvano, Cavalleria rusticana, Iris and Sì). Since 2017 he has directed the coordination of the choirs for the Festival des Chorégies d’Orange.
Maria Agresta is the Italian soprano currently most sought-after by the world’s major opera houses. Since 2011, she has been invited to sing on the most important stages worldwide, such as Bayerische Staatsoper, Semperoper Dresden, Staatsoper Berlin, Opéra de Paris, Palau les Arts de Valencia, Teatro Real de Madrid, Teatro alla Scala (Milan), Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Metropolitan Opera (New York), Opernhaus Zurich, Royal Opera House (London). Her repertoire includes La Bohème, Turandot, La traviata, Il trovatore, Otello, Simon Boccanegra, Gounod’s Faust, Norma. She has worked with the most important director such as Hugo De Ana, Franco Zeffirelli, Bob Wilson, Calixto Bieito, Gabriele Lavia, Mario Martone, Laurent Pelly, Robert Carsen, and conductors, such as Nicola Luisotti, Riccardo Chailly, Zubin Metha, Antonio Pappano, Fabio Luisi, Daniel Barenboim, Christian Thielemann. In 2019 she made her debut in Don Carlo at Teatro Real de Madrid, which she sang also in Venice at Teatro La Fenice. After short period of time, she has also made other impoportant debuts: in Tosca at Opéra de Paris and Teatro Real de Madrid, Adriana Lecouvreur at Teatro alla Scala, and Madame Butterfly at ABAO Olbe in Bilbao. Maria has won the important prize “Franco Abbiati” in 2014: Italian national critics gave her the prize for Best Soprano and the prestigious international prize "Luigi Illica”.
Born into a family of musicians, the Franco-Armenian mezzosoprano Varduhi Abrahamyan attended the Conservatory of Yerevan. Season 2021-22 commenced with her return to the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich as Carmen and continued with her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York (Rigoletto and Eugene Onegin), followed by Don Carlo at the Marseille Opera and Norma at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. Recent performances have included her debuts at the Teatro Regio in Turin (Carmen) and the Las Palmas Opera (Don Carlo). She also returned to the Canadian Opera Company (Toronto) in Eugene Onegin, at the Paris Opera as Preziosilla in La forza del destino, and at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro in Semiramide. She has appeared in Alcina at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, and at Opernhaus in Zurich with Cecilia Bartoli, Carmen in Oviedo, Palermo, Atlanta, Hong Kong, Zurich, Moscow and Hamburg, Falstaff (Mrs. Quickly), Un ballo in maschera, Carmen and Eugene Onegin at the Paris Opera, Benvenuto Cellini at the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, La donna del lago at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, and Polinesso in Handel’s Ariodante at the Canadian Opera Company. Her concert performances include Verdi’s Requiem on tour with the MusicAeterna Ensemble in Moscow, Paris, Cologne, Hamburg, Vienna and Athens. She debuted at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in Semiramide. She also sang Verdi’s Requiem at the Festival de Saint-Denis with the Orchestre de Paris, and at the Festival Verdi in Parma, Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome and at the Philharmonie de Paris, and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with Cecilia Bartoli in Martigny and Lugano. Upcoming plans include debuts at the Royal Opera House in Alcina, and at the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples in Die Walküre and Maometto II.
His elegant singing, with its roots in the most genuine bel-canto, has made the Spanish singer one of the most courted tenors on the international opera scene. His impressive high notes and homogeneous voice with remarkable projection join with an impeccable and elegant line, giving him the opportunity to gradually widen his repertoire. Celso Albelo was born in Santa Cruz in Tenerife and trained at the Conservatoire in his home town with Isabel García Soto until he moved to Madrid to continue studying with Tom Krause and Manuel Cid at the Escuela Superior de Canto Reina Sofía before being accepted at the Busseto Academy (Italy), where he perfected his art with the great Carlo Bergonzi. His international career has taken him to the most prestigious opera houses in the world, from the New York Metropolitan to La Scala in Milan, as well as the Vienna Staatsoper, the Berlin Deutsche Oper, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, the Royal Opera House in London, the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, the Teatro Real in Madrid, the Paris Opéra National, the Neapolitan Teatro San Carlo, the Fenice in Venice and the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, among many others. His career was launched in 2006 with the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto (Verdi) in Busseto, the cradle of Verdi operas. He has also sung a large amount of his repertoire in festivals such as Macerata, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, the Terme di Caracalla in Rome, Castell de Peralada in Spain, the Solothurn Classics Open Air Festival, Savonlinna, the BBC Proms in London and at Baden-Baden. Currently he has more than 25 roles in his repertoire, especially from operas by Donizetti, Bellini, Rossini and Verdi.
Hailed by critics for his stage presence and glorious basso cantabile voice, Ildebrando D’Arcangelo has made an outstanding name for himself as Mozart’s Figaro, Count Almaviva, Leporello and Don Giovanni. In recent years he has added a number of major Verdi roles to his repertoire, most notably Attila, Fiesco (Simon Boccanegra) and Banco (Macbeth) as well as Méphistophélès in Gounod’s Faust and in Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust. Ildebrando D’Arcangelo’s career has taken him to many of the world’s foremost opera houses, including the Vienna and Berlin State Operas, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Paris Opéra, La Scala, Milan, the Teatro Real in Madrid and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He made his Salzburg Festival debut in 1996 as Mozart’s Figaro, subsequently returning as Leporello and Don Giovanni. Among the conductors with whom he has worked are Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Muti, Myung-Whun Chung, John Eliot Gardiner, Bernard Haitink, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Tugan Sokhiev and Antonio Pappano. Ildebrando D’Arcangelo was a prizewinner at the International Toti Dal Monte Singing Competition in Treviso in 1989 and again in 1991. Some of his finest performances have been released on DVD by labels that include Deutsche Grammophon, Decca and Virgin Records. His more recent engagements include Count Almaviva and Escamillo (Carmen) at the Berlin State Opera, Alvise (La Gioconda) at the Liceu in Barcelona, Don Giovanni at the Dresden Semperoper, Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte) and Alidoro (La Cenerentola) for the Los Angeles Opera, Gounod’s Méphistophélès at the Zurich Opera and Berlioz’s Méphistophélès in a concert performance at the Philharmonie de Paris.
Les maîtres d'œuvre
Chef de chœur
CHŒUR DE L’OPÉRA DE MONTE-CARLO
Laura Maria ROMO CONTRERAS
Maria-Elisabetta DE GIORGI
Jaime Andrés CANTO NAVARRO*
Vincenzo DI NOCERA
Nicolo LA FARCIOLA
Marco Angelo MÜLLER*
Adolfo SCOTTO DI LUZIO
Daniele DEL BUE
Kyle Patrick SULLIVAN*
*choristes supplémentaires pour ce concert
ORCHESTRE PHILHARMONIQUE DE MONTE-CARLO
Directeur artistique et musical
NICOLE CURAU DUPUIS
GIAN BATTISTA ERMACORA
FEDERICO ANDRES HOOD
RAPHAËLLE TRUCHOT BARRAYA
It is the most famous and spectacular of the three great sacred pages composed by Rossini that Cecilia Bartoli has chosen to launch a series of concerts devoted to highlighting the work of the choir. With the help of four international soloists under the baton of Gianluca Capuano at the head of the Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Opera's choristers will have the opportunity to showcase their skills thanks to the meticulous preparation of their master, Stefano Visconti.
In 1831, three years after his early retirement from the stage following the premiere of Guillaume Tell, Rossini began work on the Stabat Mater as a favour to a Spanish prelate on condition that it remain his exclusive property and never be published. He completed only six numbers and Giovanni Tadolini took on the rest. This joint work was performed only once, on Good Friday in 1833, in Madrid. In 1837, the prelate died and his heirs sought to monetise the score. Fearing that someone else's music would be published under his name, Rossini put the work back on the table. On 7 January 1842, the definitive Stabat Mater was triumphantly premiered at the Théâtre des Italiens.
The sequence of the medieval Mass of the Dead is divided into ten numbers. The soloists each have their moment of glory, as in an opera. The "Cujus animam" is a favourite of the tenors. The "Inflammatus", in which the chorus accompanies the solo soprano in a raging painting of the flames of Hell, is the dramatic climax of the score. But other numbers, notably the two a cappella choruses and the pompous final fugue, remind the listener of the sacred side of this fascinating score.
Two words about the Monte Carlo Opera Chorus…
We have a seasonal chorus with 40 singers, mainly from Italy. Depending on repertoire requirements and the venue, where our performances take place, I increase the number to 80-90. I have been choirmaster in Monte Carlo for 15 years, and have tried to implement a certain continuity regarding our choir’s sound standards.
Often, the work of an opera chorus covers symphonic and sacred repertoire as well.
Choir concerts or concerts where a choir forms part of the cast are absolutely fundamental to our art! We are very lucky that from time to time we may participate in the symphonic seasons of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, and over the years we got to sing some rare and interesting repertoire. It is wonderful that this genre will now be integrated in the Monte Carlo Opera’s season and that the chorus can show the Opera’s audience its own identity.
What are some of the differences between singing in opera and in concert?
First of all, it is incredibly enriching to sing both! The greatest differences are that in opera the music has to be memorized, and the choir also acts, i.e. is constantly moving about, which has a great impact on sound and precision. Since they usually sing by heart and in movement, opera choruses are mentally extremely flexible. When preparing a concert, we work intensely on musical detail because the chorus will be set in a fixed position on the platform, and I can place my singers in a way that makes the choir appear regular and even. We adjust the balance, search for an evenness of sound and softness in tone: concert work makes choristers musically flexible and malleable.
Please tell us a little about Rossini’s Stabat Mater?
I adore this work and am delighted to work on it for the first time! In this piece Rossini shows a great sensibility and spirituality, and what might surprise listeners is the fact that he did not use any music from previous compositions… I feel that he did not worry about any prescribed rules concerning the sacred genre, however. It seems that he simply let the text inspire him as he went along, section by section. This is why there is so much stylistic variety in this mass.