Verdi's Requiem Seen as "Cry to the Father"

Pope Says Work Shows Gamut of Human Emotions in Face of Death

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 18, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI described a concert performance of Verdi's "Requiem" as a "moment of true beauty able to lift the spirit."



The Pope said this Saturday after Maestro Enoch zu Guttenberg and the Choir Community Neubeuern and the Orchestra of the KlangVerwaltung performed the piece at a concert in the Holy Father's honor.

In his German and Italian remarks, the Pontiff spoke of the composition as a "great cry to the eternal Father in an attempt to overcome the cry of despair in face of death."

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) wrote the Requiem Mass in 1873 as a tribute to Italian writer and humanist Alessandro Manzoni. The musician had admired Manzoni all his life.
 
"In the spirit of the great composer, this work should be the apex, the final moment of his musical production," the Pontiff suggested.
 
"It was not only a tribute to a great writer," he explained, "but also the response to an interior and spiritual artistic need that confrontation with the human and Christian stature of Manzoni aroused in him."

Peace and rest

Benedict XVI said that Verdi's "Requiem" expresses with the words of Catholic liturgy and music "the gamut of human sentiments in face of the end of life, man's anguish before his natural frailty, the feeling of rebellion in face of death, disconcert on the threshold of eternity."

Though Verdi described himself as "somewhat of an atheist," the Pope recalled, this Requiem Mass is as "a great cry to the Father, in an attempt to overcome the cry of despair in face of death, to rediscover the aspiration to life which becomes a silent, heartfelt prayer: Libera me Domine."
 
According to the Pontiff, Verdi also describes man's "spiritual drama" before God, for whom he yearns in the depth of his being as the only One who can give peace and rest.