11 and 12 February 2021
St George’s Cathedral, Wale street, Cape Town
Composed in 1610 and today considered among the high points of the religious repertory, Monteverdi’s Vespers of the Blessed Virgin displays a level of theatricality and ambition which is unmatched in sacred music of the era. The demanding nature of the piece – 90 minutes of flamboyant music for large forces – means that it is seldom performed.
Composed in praise of the Holy Virgin, Monteverdi dedicated the work to Pope Paul V, probably intending the work as an elaborate ‘audition’. Unhappy in his post in Mantua, he was hoping for a better position at a church in Venice or Rome; such a remarkable composition suggested his capability.
In its day, the scale of it – thirteen movements with a libretto compiled from various liturgical and Latin Biblical texts – was unprecedented, hugely demanding of its seven solo singers and requiring a vast chorus capable of dividing into as many as ten parts.
Rising to the challenge, the Cape Town Opera Chorus is joined by the Tygerberg Children’s Choir under chorus masters Marvin Kernelle and Kariena Erasmus. Camerata Tinta Barocca, South Africa’s only period-instrument orchestra will perform under the baton of Erik Dippenaar.
Adding to the wonder of the work is that it lends itself to spatial acoustic effects, achieved by having singers placed in different parts of the cathedral. Soloists for this performance include Elsabé Richter, Brittany Smith, Siphokazi Molteno, Jason Atherton and William Berger.
Concert at 7:30pm
Presented in association Camerata Tinta Barocca and St George’s cathedral, Cape Town
The Lorenzo and Stella Chiappini Charitable Trust, The Lord & Lady Lurgan Trust, Mauerberger Foundation, Philip Schock Foundation, SA & UK Patrons, Rolf Stephan Nussbaum Foundation, Sigrid Rausing Trust, Western Cape Government DCAS, Ann Susman Charitable Trust, DUET trust, Kirsh Foundation, Judith Neilson Head Trust