A Belgian-born and California-based conductor, vocal coach, and pianist, Kristof Van Grysperre concluded a five-year run as resident conductor at the Long Beach Opera in 2018. He currently serves as artistic director of Angels Vocal Art in Pasadena. Over the course of his multifaceted career, Kristof Van Grysperre has focused extensively on the works of the 19th century composer Giuseppe Verdi, notably conducting a “Gran Gala di Verdi” for Angels Vocal Art.
Verdi, born in 1813 in the Italian duchy of Parma, was active throughout the second half of the 19th century. His early opera Nabucco, based on the Bible story of King Nebuchadnezzar, made him famous after despair over previous musical failure and the tragic deaths of his wife and young children. In the early days of the united Italian state, the slaves’ chorus “Va, pensiero” took its place as a sort of popular national anthem.
After the success of Nabucco, Verdi went on to compose masterpieces such as the magnificent Egyptian-themed Aida; La Traviata, about the loves of a fascinating courtesan; Rigoletto and Il Trovatore; and numerous others.
The Verdi Chorus performed at the Angels Vocal Art event, accompanied by a full orchestra under Van Grysperre’s direction. The evening’s program included a variety of ensemble pieces and arias, notably “Libiamo,” the lively popular drinking song from La Traviata, the chorus from Nabucco, and pieces drawn from Don Carlo, Rigoletto, and the composer’s operas based on the works of William Shakespeare.