Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Umberto Clerici conductor
Verdi The Four Seasons: Ballet music from I Vespri Siciliani
Prokofiev Symphony No.5
About this performance
Under the baton of Umberto Clerici, former Sydney Symphony Orchestra Principal Cello, the MSO presents an energetic program of cosmopolitan cultural contrasts.
- When Verdi – one of Italy’s most famous opera composers – was commissioned to write I Vespri Siciliani for the fashionable Paris Opéra, he encountered something of a culture clash. In contrast to Italian opera’s focus on building drama, French operas included ballets in their third act – moments of spectacle unrelated to the rest of the opera, with ladies in tutus to break up the story and satisfy the desires of salacious patrons. This ballet music is just that – a light-hearted, dramatic Parisian romp through the sights and sounds of The Four Seasons.
- After living in America for many years, Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev returned to the Soviet Union in 1944, and over just four weeks composed his 100th work: The Fifth Symphony. With thrilling harmonies, recurring melodic themes, and lyrical expression, it was so popular after its American premiere that Prokofiev featured on the cover of Time magazine. Rumours swirl surrounding the meaning of this symphony: does it evoke rousing Stalinist patriotism, or an artist’s struggle for freedom under smothering Soviet censorship? Conductor Umberto Clerici takes us through the mystery of this 20th century musical milestone.
Duration: approx. 100 minutes including interval