Adelaide Festival Stages Verdi’s Requiem with a Cast of Hundreds and a Star Choreographer | Adelaide Festival

For the 2023 opera centerpiece of the Adelaide Festival, a cast of almost 200 singers, dancers and musicians will take to the stage under the direction of one of the world’s most celebrated choreographers.

Dance will be front and center in Messa da Requiem: the celebrated production of Giuseppe Verdi’s masterpiece Requiem by German choreographer Christian Spuck, which made its Zurich debut in 2016.

The festival production will mark the end of Spuck’s decade-long tenure as Artistic Director of Ballett Zürich, before the 52-year-old took up residence at the Berlin State Ballet.

Christian Spuck’s production of Giuseppe Verdi’s masterpiece, Messa da Requiem, with Ballett Zürich. Photography: Gregory Batardon

Covid-19 thwarted offers from former Adelaide co-directors Neil Armfield and Rachel Healy to bring Messa da Requiem to Australia in 2020 and 2021; the festival’s new director, Ruth Mackenzie, has understood this well.

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A dozen artists from Ballett Zürich will arrive in Australia early next year in preparation, joining around 170 singers, dancers and musicians for Verdi’s masterpiece – one of the most flamboyant funeral masses ever written. .

His chorus of hellfire and brimstone Dies Irae (Days of Wrath) has made its way into popular culture to an extent eclipsed only by Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. The desire of creative people to tear it out of its oratorio shackles has led it to be rethought like the Fukushima nuclear disaster (Oper Köln, 2011) and the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center (New York Metropolitan Opera , 2021).

Spuck’s acclaimed production, which was filmed by Jürg Gautschi in its debut, has been hailed as a “Gesamtkunstwerk” triumph: a cross-genre tour de force of classical repertoire and contemporary dance.

The director/choreographer followed up with a 2019 production of Schubert’s Winterreise, which won the world’s richest dance prize, the Benois de la Danse. With a purse of US$1 million, the International Dance Association awards held annually in Moscow are considered the Oscars of the dance world.

For Messa da Requiem, German-born and trained Queensland Symphony Orchestra Principal Conductor Johannes Fritzsch will conduct the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the Adelaide Festival Chorus. The four lead artists are all Australian: tenor Paul O’Neill, soprano Eleanor Lyons, mezzo soprano Caitlin Hulcup and bass Pelham Andrews.

The Messa da Requiem by Christian Spuck in Zurich
Christian Spuck’s Messa da Requiem made its debut in Zurich in 2016. Photography: Carlos Quezada

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