Connecticut Lyric Opera does anniversary show

At left, Adrian Sylveen leads the Connecticut Virtuosi Orchestra and an 85-voice mixed chorus in rehearsal for the performance of the Verdi Requiem.
At left, Adrian Sylveen leads the Connecticut Virtuosi Orchestra and an 85-voice mixed chorus in rehearsal for the performance of the Verdi Requiem.

Connecticut Lyric Opera celebrates a decade since it began by performing a grand, dramatic piece about life and death: Verdi's Requiem.

Saturday's concert at the Garde Arts Center - which the group also presents Saturday in New Britain - features: Adrian Sylveen conducting the Connecticut Virtuosi Orchestra; soloists soprano Jurate Svedaite-Waller, contralto Heather Petrie, tenor Christopher Lucier, and bass Ryan Foley; and an 85-voice chorus with singers from Connecticut Lyric Opera, New Britain Chorale, Polonia-Paderewski Choir, and Capella Cantorum.

Sylveen selected the Verdi Requiem in part because this is the 200th anniversary of the composer's birth and in part because it's such a dramatic piece that he has long been fascinated with.

The Requiem also connects, he says, "to deeper hopes that we as people, as humanity, have. And that hope is that we don't vanish."

The work deals, in a dramatically effective fashion, with the day of judgment, a plea for mercy, eternal peace. Verdi wrote the piece in honor of novelist and Italian liberation activist Alessandro Manzoni.

" Verdi's operas have great emotional depth, but the Requiem matches them in expressivity," a CLO release says. "In fact, the Mass for the Dead gave the composer some of the most dramatic texts he ever set. Some consider it his 29th opera."

CLO was founded by Sylveen and his wife, mezzo-soprano Monika Krajewska, along with soprano Jurate Svedaite and her husband, John Waller.

Sylveen also founded the New Britain-based Connecticut Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra. In addition, he performs in America and Europe, serving frequently as a guest conductor with major orchestras in his native Poland. He is a violin soloist, too, and graduated with distinction from the Paderewski Music Academy in Poznan, Poland, and with master and post-master degrees from the Yale University School of Music.

CLO's debut, which was a production of "Carmen," was staged at the First Congregational Church in New London and at the Trinity-on-Main Performance Hall in New Britain.

The group has expanded its reach so that it now performs in four cities - Middletown, Waterbury, New Britain and New London.

"I think the biggest accomplishment is the growth of the company and the very natural extension into communities that perhaps were missing that element of cultural experience that we provide," he says.

He says that CLO doesn't have a huge budget but has big talent.

"There's this continued effort to build and to make it better and make it more successful - but in an artistic sense. We never looked at the sense of, 'Let's take over the world,'" he says.

Sylveen believes in a strong arts community and in the social aspect of the arts.

"I want to be able to say we are part of this bigger collage of artistic experiences, which ultimately make people so much richer," he says.

Connecticut Lyric Opera, 4 p.m. Sunday, Garde Arts Center, 325 State St., New London; Verdi's Requiem; $35-$50; (860) 444-7373,


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