In an exclusive interview, operatic bass Tareq Nazmi gave Blasting News a sneak preview of his upcoming Carnegie Hall appearance Monday, Oct. 24, when he will perform in two seminal works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Sebastian Bach. He appears with other soloists, orchestra and chorus in Mozart’s “Requiem” and Bach’s “Magnificat.” The singer also spoke of his early musical interests and just some of the work involved in launching a concert and stage career.
Tareq Nazmi will appear with KlangVerwaltung Orchestra and Chorgemeinschaft Neubeuern Chorus. KlangVerwaltung means “sound administration,” Chorgemeinschaft means “choral society” and Neubeuern is a municipality in Bavarian Germany. The Orchestra celebrates its 20th anniversary with a North American tour led by Enoch zu Guttenberg, its one and only artistic director ever, who also founded the professional Chorus in 1967.
Carnegie Hall’s program
The Oct. 24 program is a double bill: Mozart’s “Requiem” and Bach’s “Magnificat in D Major,” BWV 243—a 1733 revision of the original, in E-flat Major, BWV 243a, from ten years earlier. Other facts:
- The half-hour work of arias, duets, choruses and concerted numbers is one of Bach’s most popular works.
- Bach set Martin Luther’s German translation of a Latin liturgical text based on Luke 1:46-55.
- In that passage Jesus’ mother, Mary, after the angel Gabriel’s visitation, extolls and exalts Jehovah for her privilege to bear and give birth to Messiah.
The complete title of the Mozart work is “Requiem Mass in D Minor,” K. 626. In brief:
- The 34-year-old composer left it unfinished upon dying in 1791.
- It is a 14-movement setting of a Latin text.
- Sections from it—above all “Lacrimosa” (Mournfully)—will sound familiar to those who saw Sir Peter Shaffer’s 1979 play, “Amadeus,” or the 1984 Academy-Award-winning film based on it.
- It has no solo arias.
Meet the singer
The 33-year-old singer, born in Kuwait, grew up nearly 3,000 miles away in Germany. He resides in Munich with his bride of 11 months, Elena Kirchberg, a legal expert who now vets all his performance contracts. With a slight charming accent, he disarmingly and demurely excuses himself for his English ‘being not so good.’ Actually it’s perfect. Are all multilingual Europeans taught to say that to North Americans?
In the singer’s words
“‘Quia fecit mihi magna’ (Because he did great things for me),” says Tareq Nazmi about his two-minute aria in the Bach piece, “is a favorite that I have sung since I began vocal training.” It encompasses many a melisma—a sustained vowel sung over a lengthy musical phrase—and is rife with coloratura (florid vocal lines), underpinned by very spare orchestral accompaniment, mostly from organ, cello, contrabass and bassoon. “In some ways Bach’s music feels like coming home, but in other ways it is very vocally demanding. He managed to produce some of the most beautiful yet complex vocal music ever.”
An early start
“I started out as a violinist and used to think it the highest art form that exists. I began thinking about singing at age 15, and at age 18 I earned my first professional fee as a member of a 1920s-style barber shop quartet. At age 22 I began vocal studies and first performed with the Bavarian State Opera when I was 26.” So Tareq Nazmi has worked hard, very steadily, to get where he is now.
On the horizon
In St. Gallen, Switzerland, Tareq Nazmi sings for the first time the role of Zaccaria in Giuseppe Verdi’s “Nabucco.” “And I am singing Basilio in Gioachino Rossini’s ‘Barber of Seville’ at Berlin’s Komische Oper,” also a role debut. If Metropolitan Opera’s General Manager Peter Gelb attends the Carnegie Hall concert, who knows? Perhaps the affable bassbaritone with a ready, resonant laugh will soon debut onstage at the Met.
Monday, Oct. 24, Carnegie Hall: KlangVerwaltung Orchestra and Chorgemeinschaft Neubeuern Chorus, led by Enoch zu Guttenberg.