Delhi music lovers enjoy magical evening with Verdi choruses, arias

It was a magical experience for music lovers in Delhi who got a chance to listen to some of the finest music by Verdi at the Kamani Auditorium here on Friday.
The evening of Italian operatic music was put together by Neemrana Foundation, the Italian Embassy and the Indian Council of Cultural Relations to celebrate the bicentennial of the world renowned composer.
Giueseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi (1813 – 1901) was an Italian composer of the Romantic Era, who wrote mostly operas. Starting out as a commercial musician, he found success and was hailed as a pioneer by the end of his long career in the music industry. 
Born the same year as well-known German composer Richard Wagner, he also rivalled the great musician in his popularity in the operatic theatre. 
Verdi’s best known works include La donna è mobile from Rigoletto; Va, Pensiero (The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) from Nabucco, and Coro di zingari (Anvil Chorus) from Il Trovatore. 
The Verdi Bicentennial Gala Celebrations are being held alongside the same for Wagner all across the world.
Friday's concert, conceptualised by the soloist voice coach and renowned Indian soprano Situ Singh Buehler, was a collection of various well-known arias and choruses by Verdi. The music was played by a chamber orchestra that was a collaboration of both Italian and Indian artistes. While the strings - the violins, the violas, and the cello - with exception of the double bass which was played by Salman Mubarak of Spain, were all played by Indians, the wind instruments, consisting of the flute, the oboe, the clarinet, the bassoon, the horn and the trumpet, and the kettledrum were played by Italians.
The orchestra was led by Marco Balderi, a distinguished and enviably experienced conductor. Known for the productions of Madama Butterfly at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin and at the Opéra Bastille in Paris in January 2006, as well as Georges Bizet's The Pearl Fishers in New Delhi, Balderi is well versed with all the symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Schumann, as well as over 200 operas, forty of which he has conducted. 
David Sotigiu
David Sotigiu
Apart from this, he has also studied 650 sacred and secular vocal works. He has conducted 16 orchestras across Europe, such as the Padova Chamber Orchestra and the Deutsche Oper orchestra in Berlin, and the New Symphony Orchestra of Boston and the Metropolitan Orchestra of Tokyo. He has served as the artistic director for 12 seasons at the Ongakoyoku Festival of Nijgata in Japan and two years at the Puccini Festival of Torre del Lago. Having gained deep knowledge in opera vocality, Balderi has performed with important singers such as Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Cura and Barbara Frittoli amongst many others.
The Neemrana Music Foundation Choir, trained by Nadya Balyan, served as the chorus for the evening. A registered, national, non-profit, non-partisan educational organisation in the field of classical music, the Neemrana Music Foundation debuted with the Fakir of Benares in Delhi (2002) and Mumbai (2003), before becoming an independent registered trust in 2004. Presently, the foundation organizes and performs various operas and operatic music regularly in India and abroad.
The evening began with the orchestra performing Sinfonia followed by the choir joining them for the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves (Va, Pensiero), both from Nabucco. Having grown up listening to Verdi's music, it was a delightful beginning. The programme progressed to the many solo performances of the evening. It was a pleasant surprise to listen to the strong, lovely voices of the soloists, each having an appealing timbre that made one want to hear some more.
Performing Saper vorreste from Un ballo in maschera was soprano Ashwati Parmeshwar, who delighted the audience with her loud, clear voice. Following her, tenor Prabhat Chandola sang Di quella pira from Il Trovatore with great gusto, as the chorus backed him up. 
Mezzo soprano Ramya Roy then rendered in her honeyed voice the Stride la vampa from Il Trovatore, and was followed by bass Avi who sang Di due figli vivea padre beato also from Il Trovatore, complete with actions and conviction. Petite and slender in form, soprano Tara Kumaravelu wowed with her powerful voice singing Tacea la notte placida from Il Trovatore. Right after, the chorus performed the Anvil Chorus from Il Trovatore. 
Soloists and the chorus
Soloists and the chorus
Enchanting the audience with his quick smile and easy charm, tenor Toshan Nongbet wonderfully delighted with his rendition of La donna è mobile from Rigoletto and was followed by another choral performance from Aida, The Triumphal March. 
Moving on to the famous solos and duets from La Traviata, tenor David Sotgiu began by masterfully singing De’ miei bollenti spiriti. Following him, and deserving a special mention, was soprano Payal John, who came up with an exceptionally beautiful rendition of Addio del Passato. The final soloist of the night, young baritone Bhanu Sharma made many feel the conviction of a father that Giorgio tries to sell his son Alfredo with Di provenza from La Traviata.
Balderi drew appreciation from the crowd for not only his charming stage presence, but also his careful and fluid conducting which was carried out while he played the accompanying piano for the performances. As a pianist, there was a heightened sense of awe and respect at his efficient and exemplary performance as both pianist and conductor. It was fortunate that none of the musicians or singers faced any problem with the aural quality of their music, and it was reflected upon the happy mood of the Maestro.
The evening drew to a close with four of the soloists - Ashwati Parmeshwar, Prabhat Chandola, Toshan Nongbet and Payal John - performing Brindisi from La Traviata, accompanied by the choir. The Maestro pulled together an encore performance which included Situ Singh Buehler sharing a note or two with all the soloists of the evening. She, not only conceptualized the programme,  but also trained each of the soloists for their exemplary performance this evening.
The enthralled audience, having filled the auditorium to splitting capacity, filling aisles and sharing seats for this extravaganza, cheered on the artistes and clapped in time to their song before giving them a standing ovation.
Vinita Abraham
Vinita Sonny Abraham is a post-graduate student of Performance Studies at the Ambedkar University, Delhi. She has trained in piano and ballet. 


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