Review of Puccini’s ‘Messa di Gloria’ and Opera Choruses, 13th April 2024

If you weren’t at Mistley Parish Church on Saturday afternoon, then you missed a superb concert by Stour Choral Society.

On the 100th anniversary of Puccini’s death, the choir and soloists (Anna Maria Rose, soprano, Fiona Morris mezzo-soprano, Gerry Bremner, Tenor, Howard Brooks, baritone, and Peter Grevatt, bass) put their heart and soul into performing his ‘Messa di Gloria’ which was composed when Puccini was only 21 years old at the end of his studies at the Milan Conservatory in 1880.

An audience member said she was ‘elated’ and ‘talking about the concert for hours’, after the stunning performance.  Also appreciated was the ‘energy’ from the choir, especially in the ‘Gloria’, and the powerful voices of the soloists, all of which combined to produce goosebumps aplenty as the notes and crescendos soared.

The second half of the concert included ‘Speed your Journey’ from ‘Nabucco’ (Verdi), ‘Habanera’ from ‘Carmen’ with soloist, Fiona, nailing the mischievous mood of the piece, and the rousing ‘Brindisi’ from La Traviata (Verdi), (solos parts performed by Anna and Gerry), to take everyone home in high partying spirits.

In truth though, the second half was delightfully brought to life by the rich and varied tones of the very talented soloists who performed a number of arias and duets in addition to the main work of the concert.  Anna, Gerry and Peter sang four songs from Mozart’s ‘Cose Fan Tutte’. In particular, Peter’s theatrical rendition of ‘Donne mie, la fate a tante’ was loved by the audience. Howard and Peter’s ‘Au fond du temple saint’ from ‘The Pearl Fishers’(Bizet) was very moving. Anna and Fiona gave us a real treat with ‘The flower duet’ from Lakme (Delibes). An audience member commented that the ladies performed this ‘exquisitely’ and it would stay with her for a long time.

Many congratulations to Susanna Rose for bringing together a wonderful programme of music, and for her patient, relentless coaching of the choir to get it all right! Huge respect for Stephen Smith our organist who ‘kept it all together’ when the task was a very demanding one- nobody knows how he does it!  The ’Timps’ were also ‘superb’ and our thanks go to Ben Steinitz for enhancing the performance throughout.

Gratitude also goes to the SCS committee who plan and work so hard in the background to make the concerts happen, and to Mistley Parish for the venue and refreshments.



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