Hopefully it will be a fine summer evening when Plymouth Philharmonic Choir sings Rossini’s charming Petite Messe Solennelle early next month.
Saturday July 6 in Plymouth Cathedral at 7.30pm
Optimism of sunnier climes
But even if our often unreliable weather decides to turn wet on the night, it won’t be able to dampen the spirit of Rossini’s optimistic score born of sunnier Italian climes.
Neither little nor solemn
On first hearing the Petite Messe Solennelle – written when the composer was seventy-one, and more than thirty years after his last opera – the listener is tempted to adapt a remark attributed to Napoleon III and declare that the piece is neither ‘little’, ‘solemn’ nor especially liturgical in spirit. Even Rossini’s inscription would suggest that he himself inclined to such a view:
‘Good God – behold completed this poor little Mass – is it indeed music for the blest [‘musique Sacrée’] that I have just written, or just some blessed music [‘Sacrée musique’]? Thou knowest well, I was born for comic opera. A little science, a little heart, that is all. So bless Thee and grant me Paradise! G Rossini – Passy 1863’.
‘Sins of old age’
The first performance of the piece, which the composer described as one of his ‘sins of old age’, was given at the town house of the dedicatee, the Countess Louise Pillet-Will, and those who attended agreed that, for all Rossini’s protestations, the Mass represented a magnificent feat of creative self-renewal for the septuagenarian composer.
The Choir will be directed by Christopher Fletcher, with soloists Catherine Hamilton (soprano), Helen Haviland (alto), Andrew Mackenzie-Wicks (tenor), and Darren Jeffery (bass). The performance will be accompanied by Nick Danks, Paul Foster, and Jenny Shepley.
Tickets: £17 in advance, £19 on the door, £5 students and under 16s, to include drinks and nibbles, These are available from choir members, online at www.wegottickets.com, the Choir Ticket Manager (01822 853791), Plymouth Framing Centre, 83 Hyde Park Rd (01752 255020), and Tavistock’s Mainly Stationery, 9 Duke St (01822 618500).
Further details available from www.plymouthphilchoir.org
N.B. If you’re a regular Plymouth Philharmonic Choir-supporter, please be advised that this particular event takes place on a Saturday, not the usual Sunday, and the venue is Plymouth RC Cathedral in Wyndham Street, and not Plymouth Guildhall.
Philip R Buttall