Giuseppe Verdi’s colossal, monumental “Requiem Mass”, composed in 1874 as a tribute to the great Italian poet/novelist Manzoni, was the oratorio chosen by the CT Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra and the CT Lyric Opera to celebrate several anniversaries on March 23 at the Holy Cross Church in New Britain — Verdi’s own BiCentennial, the Virtuosi’s 15th anniversary season and the CLO’s 10th. The somber, majestic work is almost an opera, requiring four spectacular soloists, a powerful orchestra full of brass, and a large chorus of 80-5 strong. As seen on March 23, the evening was a riveting vocal, emotional, musical and religious experience, culminating with a glamorous gala dinner afterwards. Soprano Jurate Svedaite, CLO’s resident diva, reveled in the many pianissimos in her music, but also had the strength to plunge into chest voice when needed. Christopher Lucier was the tenor soloist, singing with honeyed tone throughout. Three choruses — The New Britain Chorale, The Capella Cantorum, and the Paderewski Polonia Choir joined forces under maestro Adrian Sylveen’s thundering baton to shake the walls on this memorable evening.
Here are some quotes from some of the notable guests who dined at that sparkling reception afterwards…………………
Peter Spano, former president of the New Britain Opera Asso. ….”marvelous experience”
Jill Maurier_Davis, principle Virtuosi flautist……………”this was my first time doing this piece, which I have always wanted to do!”
Kathy Schiano, principle Virtuosi cellist………………..”sent shivers down my spine, especially the fortissimo sections!”
Nancy Gentry, president of the New Britain Chorale……………..”almost half of the 85 choristers were ours. The chorus has really grown back up in recent times!”
Heather Petrie, alto soloist…………”This was my first Verdi. I am a real contralto and have a career ahead of me singing scary old ladies, so this was a treat! Eva Podles is my idol.”
Ryan Foley, bass soloist and student of Jurate Svedaite…………..”This was also my first Verdi. My idol was the great Cesare Siepi. I am young and have plenty of time for future Verdi parts…right now my dream role would be Sarastro in the “Magic Flute”. I also want to pursue a career in finance.”
Larry Kellum, music critic ……………….”All and everything considered, I think this was the best thing maestro Sylveen, his orchestra and the Lyric Opera has done to date, since I came into the picture in 2010!”

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