On September 9th, the Washington Concert Opera opened its 2011-2012 season with a triumphant performance of Verdi’s early masterpiece: Attila, held at the Lisner Auditorium at the campus of George Washington University. Alongside other concert opera companies such as Opera Orchestra of New York and Teatro Grattacielo, the Washington Concert Opera company serves our esteemed art form by reminding operagoers that there is much to relish in the old school traditions that are quickly fading in today’s opera scene: Opera is expression though music, not gimmicks, and a quote from the company’s website, is testament to both their mission as well as serving unintended commentary of the strange times we find ourselves in today: “There are no sets, costumes or (usually) props to distract the eye….and ear….from the operatic score”. In essence, the audience is mercifully allowed to focus on the composer’s musical language, rather than some surely brilliant re-interpretation from one of today’s indispensable repetiteurs. And so it was on the evening of the 9th that those who assembled before the company were able to focus on the virtues of Verdi’s score and what the artists can make out of it through the mastery of their craft.
Monthly Archives: September 2011
This September, Newoutpost covers Washington Concert Opera’s presentation of Verdi’s early masterpiece, “Attila”. The subject deals with the real life Attila, leader of the Huns, who became a serious threat to the Roman Empire in the 5th century. In 451 A.D., he attacked Gaul, and the following year he boldly invaded Italy, destroying the northern provinces in his path and getting uncomfortably close to Rome. Emperor Valentian III, hoping to halt his advances, sent three envoys to negotiate with the Hun (Pope Leo I being amongst these, providing Roman history with his most famous contribution), who agreed to the terms and withdrew. A subsequent campaign to invade Constantinople in 453 A.D. was cut short when Attila unexpectedly died amidst the festivities celebrating his latest marriage. Two conflicting accounts of this event exist: The first describes that Attila choked on a heavy bout of nose-bleeding (!), the second asserts that he died at the hands of his new wife. As it concerned Zacharias Werner, and subsequently Giuseppe Verdi, it was Attila’s assassination that eventually won out as the more attractive denouement of a work for the dramatic stage.