Thank you Stephen Brockman and the Gisborne Singers for bringing us Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle!
Think of this! Rossini, acclaimed composer of opera buffa (comic opera), over thirty years in retirement, nearing death at the age of seventy-one, sits down to write a Mass. He plaints, on completion: “Have I ... written sacred music or … damned music? I was born for opera buffa…” In short, “Am I buffoon or eternal soul?”
The Gisborne Singers, soloists and orchestra balanced the sacred and profane perfectly. Lightness never dimmed holy purpose. Highlights were soprano Lee Abrahmsen’s Crucifixus - a chilling passus et sepultus, mezzo-soprano Kirsten Boerema’s Qui tollis - a wrenching expression of supplication, tenor Robert Barbaro who melted my heart with the Adoramus te and blazoned God’s majesty forth in the Dominus Deo, and bass Manfred Pohlenz in a reverential Qoniam tu solus sanctus.
The contributions of conductor, chorus and orchestra were full of similar highlights. They proved our beloved Rossini’s self-doubt unfounded: no buffoon he, he is an eternal soul. What more could one ask of a performance?
Thank you, again, Stephen!