Written in anguished response to the 1873 death of the Italian novelist and poet Alessandro Manzoni, Verdi’s Requiem wasn’t quickly described as his “latest opera” for nothing, with its high, intensely human emotion, huge forces and sheer dramatic kick. Opening in hushed, grief-soaked beauty, its opening “Requiem” and “Kyrie” rise to various stirring climaxes before ending in serene hope. Hence the shock of the “Dies irae,” whose initial cataclysmic music will act as the springboard and linking thread to a vast, dramatically taut movement of multi colours and textures incorporating the “Tuba mirum,” “Liber scriptus,” “Quid sum miser,” “Rex tremendae,” “Recordare,” “Ingemisco,” “Confutatis,” and finally the “Lacrymosa” into whose “Amen” Verdi suddenly injects light-filled G major hope. Next, warm radiance for the “Offertorium”, and up-tempo vigour for the “Sanctus” with its trumpet fanfares and fugue for double chorus. Another striking opening comes with the “Agnus Dei,” the soprano and mezzo soloists introducing its theme unaccompanied, in octaves. Then after the “Lux aeterna” struggle towards light, an urgent soprano recitative opens the final “Libera me,” its own powerful moments including its voices-only restatement of the first movement’s “Requiem aeternam,” book-ended by the “Dies irae” music. It ends in prayerful supplication.