National Theatre Chorus
National Theatre Orchestra
Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem was not intended for liturgical needs, as were funeral masses in the past. The genesis of the piece dates back to 1868, when Verdi suggested that he and another 12 Italian composers collaborate on a piece in honour of the late Gioachino Rossini. They jointly compiled the Messa per Rossini, which they scheduled to premiere on the first anniversary of Rossini’s death. Yet the plan failed to materialise and the mass would remain forgotten until 1970. Verdi created the concluding movement of the Messa per Rossini, the responsory Libera me. He only returned to the mass in 1873, in the wake of the death of Alessandro Manzoni, an Italian poet and novelist whom he respected as an artist and friend alike. The mass was first performed on 22 May, a year after Manzoni’s death, at the San Marco church in Milan.