Scoring: Soli SATBB, Coro SATB, 2 Fl, 2 Ob, 2 Clt, 2 Fg, 4 Cor, 2 Tr, 3 Trb, Timp, 2 Vl, Va, Vc, Cb, Org
Through works such as Verdi’s Requiem or Puccini’s Messa di Gloria, we know that the great composers of Italian bel canto opera also wrote marvelous sacred music. Yet most of these pieces are rarely performed. This is also true of Gaetano Donizetti’s Messa di Requiem, which he composed as an expression of grief at the early death of Vincenzo Bellini in 1835. Neither performed nor printed during Donizetti’s lifetime, the Requiem is ripe for rediscovery.
A rich and highly intense work, it features dramatic choruses with full orchestra, fugues, and a cappella passages that alternate with lengthy cantilenas for the soloists. The solo numbers are often scored for three male voices accompanied by low winds to create a dark timbre. The soprano and alto soloists do not themselves sing any solo arias, instead remaining part of the solo ensemble.