A work repeatedly heard in the Great Days of the Holy Week, REQUIEM by GIUSEPPE VERDI ever since its inception to this day has raised the question of to what extent this work can be said to fit within the stereotyped format of ecclesiastic liturgical sacredness. Indeed, although the music is set on the traditional Latin text and follows the form and tenets of the Roman Catholic mass for the dead, the Requiem reflects an unusual, “operatic” mode of expression. Permeated with the candid emotion of cantilena melodic, amply expanded vocal lines, impressive choral frescoes, intense dramatism and bright contrasts between the different “scenes” are close to the musical imagery of the previously composed Aida, and in Lacrimosa the composer introduces in a recast form the duet Qui me rendra ce mort? Ô funèbres abîmes! from Act Four of Don Carlos. For what reason did the author of many works in the most secular genre of opera feel that he had to turn at that time to the sphere of spiritual music (It was not until his last years that he shaped into the cycle Quattro pezzi sacri four similar works – Ave Maria, Stabat Mater, Laudi alla Vergine Maria and Te Deum)? At the end of the 1860s and early 1870s one after another died his father, his patron Antonio Barezzi (father of his first wife Margherita), his close friend and librettist Francesco Piave, Gioacchino Rossini and writer and national tribune Alessandro Manzoni. After Gioachino Rossini’s death in 1868, Verdi suggested that twelve of the eminent composers of that time collaborate in composing a Requiem in Rossini’s honour. By lot it fell to Verdi to write the concluding movement Libera me. The premiere of the Requiem was scheduled for 13 November 1869, the first anniversary of Rossini’s death, but the performance was cancelled and this Messa per Rossini remained unperformed until 1988, when Helmuth Rilling premiered the complete Messa per Rossini in Stuttgart, Germany. But the death in 1873 of writer Alessandro Manzoni, deeply admired by Verdi, rekindled again the composer’s eagerness to write a Requiem. He completed the work on 10 April 1874 and it was first performed in the church of San Marco in Milan on 22 May 1874, the first anniversary of Manzoni’s death (hence it was often dubbed „Manzoni Requiem”). Under the baton of the author in this premiere performance sang renowned singers participated – Teresa Stolz (soprano), Maria Waldmann (mezzo-soprano), Giuseppe Capponi (tenor) and Ormondo Maini (bass), who in 1872 appeared as performers of the central parts in the European production of Aida. Three days later, on 25 May, the Requiem was performed again at La Scala to tremendous success. On the following year 1875 it was performed under the baton of Verdi in Paris (seven times on the stage of Opéra-Comique), London (at the Royal Albert Hall), Vienna, Munich, St. Petersburg; and in Venice, special decor in the old Byzantine ecclesiastical style was designed for the occasion of the performance. In later years the work seemed to fall into oblivion for a certain period of time, but the interest in it was revived again after the 1930 when Arturo Toscanini made its first recording with the BBC – London and thus enabled it to become an integral part of the modern repertoire of all major choral ensembles and orchestras around the world. A great admirer of the Requiem, playwright and music critic George Bernard Shaw directed in his testament that Libera me be played at his funeral. The Requiem was reportedly performed approximately 16 times between 1943 and 1944 by prisoner musicians in the concentration camp of Theresienstadt (also known as Terezín) under the direction of Rafael Schächter and since 1990 it is regularly performed at the commemorations in honour of the Terezin victims. In recent years the Requiem has repeatedly come to life in various stage productions – at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, in the Colon Opera, and in 2017 also in a choreographed production at the Zurich Opera.