The Verdi Chorus will celebrate its 30th anniversary with its spring concerts, “Kings, Queens and Celebrations” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 20 and 4 p.m. Sunday, April 21 at the First United Methodist Church of Santa Monica, 1008 11th St.
The Verdi Chorus is a nonprofit organization dedicated to presenting opera choruses in concert. The group began performing in 1983 at the former Verdi Ristorante di Musica, a Santa Monica restaurant that featured opera as dinner entertainment.
Following the restaurant’s closure in 1991, the chorus continued to thrive and progressed to performing its own concerts.
Chorus president emeritus Tom Redler, who served as president for 17 years, is proud that the group has reached its 30th year.
“In the scope of any union – be it a marriage, a business partnership or certainly anything in the arts, especially a nonprofit opera chorus – it’s a minor miracle,” Redler said of the anniversary.
“It’s extremely difficult to put together an opera chorus. Opera singers are striving to stand out as divas, so they don’t generally want to blend into an opera chorus.”
Founding artistic director Anne Marie Ketchum, who once sang solos at the original restaurant performances, explained some of the unique aspects of opera singing.
“In opera, a lot of times you have bigger singing,” Ketchum said. “Because it’s theater and drama, each chorus member is a different character reacting to the drama. In a normal chorus, you want all the voices to sound as one; but in opera, you want individuals to come forth. This chorus can sing full-out with big, operatic voices.”
The chorus is currently comprised of 50 members. They have sung with USC Opera, Jacaranda, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and participated in L.A. Opera’s Ring Festival. For the performances, Ketchum selects pieces from a repertoire that includes more than 200 opera choruses.
“It’s a joy to have it that wide open,” she said of the selections.
During the “Kings, Queens and Celebrations” show, the chorus will perform dramatic scenes from “Maria Stuarda,” “Don Carlo,” “Macbeth” and “Nabucco.”
The program also features three professional guest artists, Raúl Hernandez, tenor; Suzan Hanson, soprano; and Roberto Perlas Gomez, baritone.
Tickets are $30 for general admission, $25 for seniors, $10 for students and $40 for priority seating. Free parking is available in the structure across from the church and a complimentary buffet-reception will immediately follow the performance.
Information, (800) 838-3006, or www.verdichorus.org.