This Saturday is St George’s Day and Bel Canto will be celebrating the day in style.
There are two main items in the concert: Puccini’s Messa di Gloria and my new Dramatic Cantata – St George and the Dragon.
The Messa di Gloria was written when Puccini (1858-1924) was still very young, this piece shows the exuberance of youth, with a fair amount of skill, and is just plain fun. Puccini composed the Mass as his graduation exercise from the Istituto Musicale Pacini and It had its first performance in Lucca on July 12, 1880. Apparently it is not a true “Messa di Gloria” as these only had Kyrie and Gloria, but Puccini had already written a Credo (performed in 1878) and so perhaps, having written a new Kyrie and Gloria, decided to use the existing Credo, add a quick Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei (and these movements are really quite short) to complete the mass. The music is unashamedly operatic in nature, and those who know Rossini’s Petite Messe Solenelle will immediately recognise some of the styles. It is a great piece to perform and even better to listen to.
Alongside this work, you’ll be able to hear the first outing of my new dramatic cantata St George and the Dragon, written specially for the occasion. This witty telling of the story of our Patron Saint’s encounter with a Dragon features the choir as the concerned villagers, a heroic tenor (David Watkin-Holmes) as St George, a baritone solo (Peter Taylor) as the King of the town plagued by the Dragon, and a soprano soloist (Clare Wheat) as his slightly ditzy daughter, destined to be fed to the Dragon.
The words have been written by my ever-supportive parents, and the Cantata is accompanied by piano (the marvellous Jonathan Gooing) and percussion. The choir and soloists have enjoyed learning it, and the performance promises to be a great success.