By Leila Regan-Porter
Living in a city full of rock ‘n’ roll bands and hip-hop stars, a music fan can quite forget that Atlanta has a rather fantastic (Grammy-winning) symphony orchestra. Last night I was lucky enough to have fantastic seats at the sold out, one-night encore performance of Verdi: Requiem. The night was a thrill from start to finish, beginning with the ominous warnings that the doors would be firmly closed at 8 p.m. with no one being let in after, and that the 84-minute piece would be performed straight through, with no interruption and no interval. No wonder the bathroom lines were a bit long.
The stage was set for the mammoth performance, with full orchestra and a 140-or-so-person chorus backing the four soloists (soprano Christine Brewer, mezzo-soprano Nancy Maultsby, tenor Dimitri Pittas and bass Burak Bilgili). That the huge collective had the ability of all playing together and sounding hushed and afraid, joyful and triumphant, or terrifyingly damned, speaks to the ability of every artist on the stage. Requiem is surely a tour de force for any group, and that Atlanta had such success the last performance that another one was demanded shows that we are a city of many talents.
Grammy-Award winning star Brewer naturally was stunning, though mezzo-soprano Maultsby shone with glorious tones expressing the words of Verdi like the impassioned prayer as the composer intended. Tenor Pittas and Bilgili were also captivating in their solos, storming through Verdi with the power of a thunderstorm.
The show easily brought the audience to its feet, blowing the roof off of the perfectly-molded Atlanta Symphony Hall.
We’re looking forward to more from the ASO this summer – especially the Chastain series, and especially the show with Liza Minnelli!