By Jesse Bertel

The Prescott Chorale is set to enchant audiences with the brilliance of Giacomo Puccini’s “Messa di Gloria” in a two-day event. For the first time in Prescott, the Chorale presents this composition at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 2000 Shepherds Lane, Prescott. Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, April 19, and at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 20.
Puccini, renowned for his iconic operas such as “La Bohème,” “Tosca” and “Madame Butterfly,” crafted his Messa di Gloria as a graduation exercise at the tender age of 18. Premiering in 1880, the piece fell into obscurity until its rediscovery in 1952, reclaiming its rightful place in musical history.
“Puccini was a young prodigy, and I call him a genius because he was in that regard,” Prescott Chorale’s artistic director, Dennis Houser, said. “Some of the most famous operatic melodies that are popularized came from his pen.”
In addition to Puccini’s “Messa di Gloria,” audiences will be treated to renditions of four well-known opera choruses — the “Anvil Chorus” and the “Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves” by Giuseppe Verdi, Joseph Haydn’s “Soavi Zeffiri,” and Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma.”
“We’re doing some of the choruses that eventually ended up in his large operas,” Houser said. “The opera choruses are short. Some of them are just three minutes long. The most famous one that is featured is Nessun Dorma and it is from Turandot.”
Houser’s favorite part of the performance, which comes near the end of Messa di Gloria, is a melody that the audience will instantly recognize.
“The melody starts with the Latin text, Qui Tollis Peccata Mundi, which means take good care of us, and it’s sung by the chorus,” Houser said. “It starts with the male voice singing the melody, then the female voices join and it’s a climactic part of the whole work. The melody sets it apart.”
Learning the Italian choruses is the biggest challenge for the performers.
“The Messa di Gloria itself is simple because they’ve done Latin so much, but the Italian choruses are the ones that have really made them work hard to be able to learn it,” Houser said. “That’s the drama part of what we’re doing is those opera choruses, because they are so well known and they’re so dramatic.”
Tickets are available online at www.prescottchorale.com, or at the door. Admission prices are $30 for adults, $6 for students aged 13-16, while children 12 and younger get in free.
Now in its seventh season, the Prescott Chorale has been dedicated to bringing the joy of choral music to the community since 2015.
For more details about the Prescott Chorale and the upcoming event, visit www.prescottchorale.com, or call Houser at 909-224-6166.

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