June 18th 2022 – Rossini – Petite Messe Solennelle

A Saturday evening concert in Sunderland Minster, starting at 7.30 p.m., conducted by David Murray.

Tickets remain at their pre-Covid prices and can be obtained via any member of the choir or by making a request using the Contact Us page of this website.

On this occasion we are not using the WeGotTickets option to offer tickets, so please ignore the ‘Booking Tickets’ page and any reference and link to WeGotTickets on the ‘Contact Us’ page.

In the Nave £14.00, £8.00 (students & income related benefits), accompanied Under 16s free (but they do need a ticket to ensure a seat), and £8.00 in the Gallery (with restricted view).

Soloists : Laurie Ashworth – soprano, Clare McCaldin – mezzosoprano, Richard Pinkstone – tenor,

Patrick Owston – bass.

Gioachino Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle (Little solemn mass) was written in 1863, possibly at the request of Count Alexis Pillet-Will for his wife Louise to whom it is dedicated. The composer, who had retired from composing operas more than 30 years before, described it as “the last of my péchés de vieillesse” (sins of old age).

The extended work is a missa solemnis, but Rossini labeled it, not without irony, petite (little). He scored it originally for twelve singers, four of them soloists, two pianos and harmonium. The mass was first performed on 14 March 1864 at the couple’s new home in Paris. Rossini later produced an orchestral version, including an additional movement, a setting of the hymn “O salutaris hostia” as a soprano aria. This version of the mass was not performed during his lifetime because he could not obtain permission to perform it with female singers in a church. It was first performed three months after his death, at the Salle Ventadour in Paris by the company of the Théâtre-Italien on 24 February 1869.

The unusual scoring for voices, two pianos and harmonium is in the Neapolitan harpsichord tradition of the 18th century. Rossini specified, on the second page of his manuscript, twelve singers in all, noting on the title page: “Twelve singers of three sexes, men, women and castrati will suffice for its execution: that is, eight for the choir, four soloists, in all twelve cherubim”.