A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

The Verdi Chorus celebrates its 35th anniversary Nov. 10 and 11. / Photo courtesy of Verdi Chorus

If you love opera and don’t know the Verdi Chorus, perhaps it’s time you did. Their 35th anniversary season culminates with Passione! Opera! for two performances only at the First United Methodist Church in Santa Monica on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 11, at 2 p.m.

The Verdi Chorus is the only choral group in Southern California (and quite possibly the country) that focuses primarily on the dramatic and diverse music of the opera chorus. Every Monday night, more than 50 singers from every walk of life and ranging in age from 18 to 80 come together as the Verdi Chorus. This wide swath of people includes to-be opera stars at the beginning of their careers, college students who have just begun to realize their operatic gifts and talented opera aficionados. Its repertoire includes over 300 choruses from 81 operas in seven languages.

Among those who got their start with the Verdi Chorus is bass baritone Ryan McKinny, who was hailed this past July in The New York Times for his performance in Peter Sellar’s Dr. Atomic.

Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum says, “When going to an opera, what many people take away are the main arias and duets sung by the stars of the production. With the Verdi Chorus, we focus on something else — as there is such a wealth of incredibly  glorious music for the chorus in opera. In fact, some of the greatest moments in opera are the big ensembles — when all of the soloists come together with the chorus, and these are things I love to program.”

For this 35th anniversary concert Ketchum chose a few of these iconic pieces, including:

  • The Grand March in Verdi’s Aida
  • The entire dramatic ending of Boito’s Mefistofele
  • Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila “Which is so full of rich choral music it’s almost like an oratorio,” says Ketchum.
  • Selections from Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffman — “Always an audience favorite,” says Ketchum.
  • “Of course, our 35th anniversary concert would not be complete without Va, pensiero from Verdi’s Nabucco; one of the greatest moments for chorus in opera, and the anthem of the Verdi Chorus,” Ketchum adds.

The program will feature four guest soloists:

  • Soprano Julie Makerov who The Huffington Post declared “triumphant” in her performance of Senta in Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer with LA Opera
  • Critically praised mezzo soprano Janelle DeStefano, who has been featured in concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale
  • Tenor Todd Wilander, praised by The New York Times for his “brave, vocally assured portrayals” and who has returned for eight seasons thus far with the Metropolitan Opera
  • Two-time Grammy Award-winning baritone Gabriel Manro, hailed by Opera News as a “casting coup” in the role of Don Carlo for West Bay Opera’s recent production of La forza del destino

In addition, at the Nov. 10 performance, Los Angeles County Field Deputy Zachary Gaidzik will award the Verdi Chorus a document of commendation on the occasion of their 35th anniversary for outstanding contributions to the Third District of Los Angeles County, represented by Sheila Kuehl. The Verdi Chorus was also recognized this fall by the City Council of Santa Monica for its achievements over the last 35 years.


First United Methodist Church in Santa Monica

1008 11th St.

Santa Monica 90403



(800) 838-3006