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Amadeus!

Long before "The Mozart Effect" became a sensation, a generation was influenced in its perceptions of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of the world's greatest composers, by the 1984 Academy Award-winning movie "Amadeus."...

Long before "The Mozart Effect" became a sensation, a generation was influenced in its perceptions of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of the world's greatest composers, by the 1984 Academy Award-winning movie "Amadeus."
Aptly titled "Music from Amadeus," Saturday's Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra concert features three works given prominent play in the movie -- "Overture to Don Giovanni," Symphony No. 25 in g minor" and the beloved "Requiem Mass," Mozart's last work, which was finished by an assistant.
DSSO music director Markand Thakar said the broad spectrum of work should make for an interesting concert.
Leading off will be Don Giovanni, "one of the original bad boys of Western Civilization," Thakar said. He said the popular opera's comic overtones baffle him.
"I've never quite understood the message of Don Giovanni," he said. "It's got comic elements, but Don Giovanni is a totally bad guy. He does exclusively bad things."
Nevertheless, the lighthearted overture does foreshadow Don Giovanni's end.
{IMG2}The g minor symphony -- the "Little G" -- is different and less commonly heard; in fact, it is the earliest of Mozart's symphonies that is regularly played, Thakar said.
The minor key gives an element of dramatic flair that made it a good fit for the movie.
But if you are expecting the highlight of the evening to be the Requiem, you probably aren't alone. The music is magnificent, and the piece's history is dramatic.
In the movie, the Requiem provided the climactic scene, as a young but sick and dying Mozart worked on the "Confutatis" movement while his alleged betrayer, Antonio Salieri, transcribed. Thakar said the actual story also involves intrigue over how much credit should go to Franz Sussmayer, who finished the Requiem after Mozart's death, partially based on notes or possibly drafts that had been written beforehand.
More than 200 voices from the combined efforts of Duluth-Superior Symphony Chorus and choruses from Northland College and the University of Minnesota-Duluth will also add interest and intensity.
Matt Faerber, the DSSO chorusmaster and also the choral director at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, said the popularity of the Requiem doesn't make it any easier to learn and that its dramatic variations pose challenges for any chorus.
For instance, the second movement, the dies irae, "is just an explosive piece of music," Faerber said, one that musically depicts judgement day. The lacrimosa movement later in the piece is tender and almost pleading by contrast.
And then there's the sound. The large chorus, filled with big voices, has to work for the tone quality and the clarity.
But the music itself has the singers excited, Faerber said.
"It's a fantastic work," he said. "It's Mozart's last work and represents on many levels his feeling of music, where music was going, where it came from and his own philosophy on life and death. It's an incredible statement of faith."
Thakar said after his first rehearsal with the chorus (he communicated with Faerber on his vision for the piece as rehearsals were beginning) that "they sound just really fantastic."
He cited Faerber's popularity with the chorus and his skill as major reasons, noting in particular that the chorus is remarkably flexible in dealing with his changing demands.
"I always change," Thakar said. "And it doesn't matter how many times I've done a piece, but every chorus is different, every room is different, the conditions are always different."
And he was not concerned about the size of the chorus.
"It's a fairly large chorus, but then we have a fairly large room to play this in," he said.
Thakar said tickets are selling well and characterized the concert as "solidly within people's comfort zone."
"Music from Amadeus" will also feature four soloists, including some familiar faces:
Rachel Inselman, soprano, is an assistant professor of voice and opera at UMD and a regular performer with the DSSO. She has also performed with symphonies in Cleveland; Toledo, Ohio; Lincoln, Neb.; and Shanghai, China.
Tracy Watson, mezzo-soprano, has performed throughout the United States and Europe, including a performance with the DSSO -- Handel's Messiah during the 2000-01 season.
Glenn Siebert, tenor, has appeared with the New York, Los Angeles and Royal Flanders philharmonic orchestras; the Boston, St. Louis and American symphonies; chamber orchestras in Cleveland, Philadelphia and St. Paul; and the Boston Pops. He currently teaches at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem and has performed twice with the DSSO.
Bruce Hall, bass, has performed major opera roles with the Cologne, Stuttgart and Netherlands opera companies, plus appeared with symphonies in Detroit, Honolulu and North Carolina. He is on the voice faculty at Northwestern University.
Kyle Eller is features editor for the Budgeteer News. Reach him at kyle.eller@duluth.com or 723-1207.
News to Use
Tickets for "Music from Amadeus," Saturday, March 2 at 8 p.m., range from $16.50 to $38 and are available through the DSSO office, 733-7579; the DECC ticket office or throught TicketMaster. Tickets are also available online. See http://www.dsso.com for details. Seniors receive $2 discounts and children ages 6-17 get in for half price.

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