The Verdi Chorus will present its Fall 2017 concert “Love’s Passions and Potions” for two performances only at the First United Methodist Church in Santa Monica on November 18th and 19th led by Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum. As the only choral group in Southern California that focuses primarily on the dramatic and diverse music for opera chorus, their program will feature selections from Verdi’s Giovanna d’Arco and Un Ballo in Maschera, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor and The Elixir of Love, Massenet’s Manon, as well as selections from Romberg’s The Student Prince and The New Moon and Herbert’s Naughty Marietta.
Anne Marie has a deep connection to South Pasadena and says she considers it her hometown. Her grandfather was Harry Monroe who taught math at the high school and her grandmother, Mildred, was active in the community and was President of the South Pasadena Woman’s Club at one time. Anne Marie always lived close by and all their family holidays were spent in South Pasadena. After receiving her Master’s degree in Voice Performance from Cal State Northridge, Ketchum appeared internationally in art music, vocal chamber, opera and more. She began a musical theatre workshop at PCC that eventually became an opera class that now produces a full scale opera each spring. One of her students is in the cast of Bright Star, now playing at the Ahmanson.
The Verdi Chorus began simply enough 35 years ago at the elegant, Italian, Verdi Restaurant in Santa Monica. The owners asked Ketchum to perform Italian opera on their stage, which eventually led to a chorus being formed and through the years it grew into something extraordinary with very high quality performers auditioning to participate. When the restaurant closed, they began performing at the beautiful First Methodist Church in Santa Monica.
Ketchum says, “ I am so excited to launch the 35th season of The Verdi Chorus with this lush and melodic program. I am particularly pleased to have three exciting soloists. The chemistry in the duet between Jamie Chamberlin and Nathan Granner is electrifying…maybe because they are a couple off stage as well as on! And Ben Lowe’s rich baritone voice will charm all who hear him.” She goes on to explain, “the operas represented are full of beautiful melody and intriguing drama, not to mention some vocal fireworks too. It’s just beautiful, crazy music! Add to that the Walter Fox Singers and the wonderful duets and arias from our incredible guest soloists, and we will have a concert that will not only delight opera aficionados, but hopefully convert new listeners and audience members to this wonderful art form.”
For those not well versed in opera Ketchum assures, “these stories are accessible and delightful. People get turned on to the glorious singing and they always walk out feeling good!”
The program will feature three guest soloists: Greek-American soprano Jamie Chamberlin (praised for her “shimmering tones” and “star- struck vulnerability” by Opera News), tenor Nathan Granner (one of the original The American Tenors on Sony Classical), and baritone Ben Lowe, who will be making his New York debut this season at BAM, performing in Matthew Aucoin’s opera Crossing.
Further demonstrating the organization’s mission to provide performance opportunities to young professional singers, fourteen highly promising singers are hired as section leaders and rehearsal coaches. Known as the Walter Fox Singers, these singers assist the Artistic Director, provide direction for their sections in rehearsals, and have opportunities to perform as featured singers in performances. The Walter Fox Singers also perform on occasion independently of the full Chorus, serving as a showcase for the singers and as ambassadors for The Verdi Chorus. Performances of special arias and ensembles have been presented at venues in Southern California including the Annenberg Beach House, The Broad Stage, the Huntington Library, and the Nixon Library.
Performance times are Saturday, November 18th at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, November 19th at 2 pm at the First United Methodist Church in Santa Monica, located at 1008 11th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90403.
Tickets are available for purchase at www.verdichorus.org or by calling (800) 838-3006. Priority seating is available for $40, general admission is $30, seniors are $25, and students aged 25 and under with a valid ID are $10.