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Rossini Petite Messe solennelle

Rossini Petite Messe solennelle

2 July 2023 | 2:30PM | From $22  |  2:30PM  |  Federation Concert Hall

Graham Abbott returns to Festival of Voices to conduct Rossini’s Petite Messe solennelle

Performed by the Festival of Voices Classical Choral Workshop Choir and nationally recognised soloists and pianists.

The Petite Messe solennelle (Little solemn mass) was written in 1863 and is arguably one of the most remarkable of all the nineteenth-century choral masterworks. In 2023 we will celebrate 160 years since it was first performed. The style that Rossini uses in his twilight years (this being one of the last works he wrote before his death in 1868) is comparable to the choral music of Haydn, Fauré and Poulenc.

The beautiful melodies in this work are intertwined with the comedic sense of irony that gave Rossini so much of his success with the opera buffa genre. This piece is neither small, nor solemn!

Rossini structured his mass in the tradition of the missa solemnis but added the petite label as a little joke. He wrote on the final page of the manuscript: “Dear Lord, here it is finished, this poor little mass. Have I just written sacred music, or rather, sacrilegious music? I was born for opera buffa, as you know well. Not much technique, a little bit of heart, that’s all.”

The Festival of Voices Classical Choral Workshop Choir will perform under the direction of Graham Abbott with soloists Sharon Prero, Cassandra Seidemann, Nick Seidenman and Samuel Dundas with pianists Jennifer Marten-Smith and Michael Power and Gabrielle Cayoun on harmonium.

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“I am delighted to have been invited to return to the Festival of Voices in 2023 to conduct one of my favourite works, Rossini’s Petite Messe solennelle. Even though the composer later orchestrated it, we’ll be presenting the original version, scored for choir and soloists with two pianos and harmonium. This extended setting of the Mass is one of Rossini’s last works, written decades after he’d retired from opera, but still full of his charm, wit and endless gift for melody. Rossini called it “the last sin of my old age”, and while its title is ironic (it’s neither little, nor particularly solemn), it still contains music of enormous power and depth. The great fugues show an unexpected gift for complex counterpoint, while the concluding Agnus Dei is heartbreakingly beautiful. Audiences will be swept away!”
Graham Abbott, September 2022

Graham Abbott

Graham Abbott has been Conductor-in-Residence at the Elder Conservatorium of Music Adelaide, Musical Director of Adelaide Philharmonia Chorus, Associate Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Musical Director of Melbourne Chorale, and in 1997 was Guest Chorus Master of the Chorus of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. He has worked with all of Australia’s major orchestras, choirs and opera companies.

Graham conducted Cherubini's C minor Requiem at the 2019 Festival and Handel’s Four Coronation Anthems in 2022.


Full Price Tickets

Premium – $59
A Reserve – $49
B Reserve – $39
C Reserve – $29

Concession Tickets

Full time secondary and tertiary students, Pension concession card holders, Senior card holders, Companion card holders, Veteran Affairs, TPI and health care card holders, children under 12

Premium Concession – $52
A Reserve Concession – $42
B Reserve Concession – $32
C Reserve Concession – $22

*A Booking Fee of $3.00 applies, plus a 2.2% Basket Fee which will be calculated at check-out.


1hr 30min

VENUE: Federation Concert Hall

Getting to the venue 

  • Federation Concert Hall is within Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart, 1 Davey Street, Hobart TAS 7000 
  • A drop-off zone is located at the front of Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart, accessible from the far-right lane of Davey Street, just after Evans Street. 
  • Accessible parking spaces are available in the Hotel Grand Chancellor car park. To access this space, please drive into the drop-off zone and request valet park the car for you. More accessible parking can be found along Davey Street by turning into Dunn Place Carpark, on the right past Campbell Street, or turning into the Mures car park, on the left past Campbell Street. 
  • Please follow this link for a virtual tour of the Federation Concert Hall Auditorium (titled Federation Plenary Hall). Please note that lighting designs will not be as featured in this tour at Festival of Voices events. 


Guide Dogs/Registered Assistance Animals welcome 


Wheelchair accessibility

  • For wheelchair bookings, please contact the festival with specifications and dimensions of the wheelchair and any additional user requirements. 
  • The Federation Concert Hall stalls are accessible from ground level and the dress circle is accessible for wheelchair users via the lift at reception. 
  • Accessible bathrooms are available at this venue. 

Supported by


Sharon Prero

After studies at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Tasmanian soprano Sharon Prero became a Young Artist with Opera Queensland. During this time, she was a National Finalist in the ABC Young Performers Awards and appeared as soprano soloist in Les Illuminations with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. She was a finalist in the German Operatic Awards and the Metropolitan Opera Awards and the winner of the Dame Mabel Brookes Fellowship.

Her major operatic appearances for Opera Australia have included: Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, Musetta in La bohème, Gutrune in Die Götterdämmerung, Micaela in Carmen. Juliette in Die tote Stadt, Nella in Gianni Schicchi and High Priestess in Aida.

Sharon has sung Marguerite in Faust for Opera Queensland; Mimi in La bohème and Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance for Victoria State Opera; Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and Pamina in The Magic Flute for State Opera of South Australia; and Carlotta in the The Phantom of the Opera for Cameron Mackintosh and Really Useful Group.

Concert engagements include Mahler's Symphony No. 2 and Vaughan-Williams' Sea Symphony with the Queensland Symphony, Handel's Messiah and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Tasmanian Symphony – and performances of Vaughan-Williams Sinfonia Antarctica, Louis Andriesson’s De Staadt and the World Premiere of John Adams’ Grand Pianola Music.

Sharon was a guest artist for Puccini Festival Australia in Le donne di Puccini. International appearances have included Nella in Gianni Schicchi (Macau International Music Festival) and concerts in Noumea and Jakarta for the Conservatoire de Musique de la Nouvelle- Caledonie and the Indonesian Opera Society. In 2020, she sang Siegrune in Die Walküre at The Esplanade, Singapore.

Recordings include soprano soloist in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 (Opera Australia/TSO) released by ABC Classics and a DVD release of The Pirates of Penzance with Victoria State Opera.


Jennifer Marten-Smith

At age 12 Jennifer Marten-Smith was invited to study piano with Professor Gediga-Glombitza at the Musikhochschule in Cologne, Germany.

At age 16 she made her public debut with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra as soloist in Schumann’s A minor Piano Concerto, having previously recorded the Rimsky-Korsakov Piano Concerto with this orchestra. Two years later she again performed with the TSO, playing Rubinstein Piano Concerto No 4. That same year, Jennifer was the youngest graduate of the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music, where she was awarded a high distinction as a double major in piano performance and accompaniment.

Other concertos in her repertoire include works by Beethoven, Brahms, Dohnányi, Mozart, Saint-Saëns and Tchaikovsky, and she has appeared as soloist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the Niedersächsisches Staatsorchester Hannover.

Jennifer has performed as solo pianist throughout Australia and Europe and was a member of chamber groups Trio Médard (Germany) and The Kettering Piano Quartet (Australia).

In 1989 she began work as a repetiteur with the State Opera of South Australia, after which she joined the Victorian State Opera Young Artist Programme. From 1997 to 2001 she was a full-time member of the music staff at the Staatsoper Hannover, Germany, subsequently working as music staff at Opera Australia for the next 11 years, before returning to her beloved city of Hobart.

Jennifer is in demand as a soloist, accompanist, teacher, vocal coach and chamber musician.

Mezzo Soprano

Cassandra Seidemann

Australian/German mezzo soprano Cassandra Seidemann has featured extensively on both stage and screen. She is a favourite with audiences having sung throughout Australia, Asia and New Zealand. 2019/2020 highlights included Rossweisse in the Singapore premiere of Die Walküre, appearances in Opera Queensland’s productions of A Flow’ring Tree, Tosca and Orfeo and concert appearances in Ausralia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. In 2022, she sang Bradamante in National Opera’s production of Alcina.

In 2017, she was soloist for Opera Under the Stars in Broome, Western Australia and in Handel’s Messiah for Christchurch City Choir; she also appeared in The Pearl Fishers and Ruddigore for Opera Queensland. Cassandra returned to Opera Queensland in 2018 as Olga in Graeme Murphy’s new production of The Merry Widow and starred in a Chinese New Year gala concert at the Sydney Opera House.

Cassandra graduated with honours from The University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Music (Opera Performance). There she performed the title role in Dido and Aeneas as well as Hansel in Hansel & Gretel.

She then joined Opera Queensland as part of the Young Artist Program appearing as 2nd Bridesmaid in The Marriage of Figaro and understudying Hansel in Hansel and Gretel. Her affiliation with Opera Queensland has continued to the present day performing and covering the roles of Wowkle in La fanciulla del West, Countessa Ceprano in Rigoletto, Flora in La traviata and Kate Pinkerton and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly.

Other operatic highlights include the title role in Carmen with the Sydney Philharmonia and appearing in concert with Jeff Mills, Derrick May and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

On screen, she has been featured in the Lord Mayor's Carols in the City, numerous television commercials, was a featured artist at the Carols in the Domain 2015 to 2020 and, most recently, played the role of Mary in the short film Jade.

Cassandra's musical theatre appearances include Pitti-Sing in The Mikado, Gwendolen Fairfax in The Importance of Being Ernest, Tessa in The Gondoliers and Laurey in Oklahoma! On the concert stage, she has taken the alto solos in Handel’s Messiah and Dixit Dominus, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Schubert’s Mass in A Major, Bach’s Magnificat and Mozart’s Requiem and Coronation Mass.

Cassandra was a grant recipient of The Joan Sutherland Society, a finalist in the Opera Foundation Australia German Opera Scholarship and a finalist in the Opera Foundation Australia Lady Fairfax Scholarship.


Michael Power

Michael Power completed a Bachelor of Music in Performance with Dr Gian-Franco Ricci and Helen English at the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music, during which time he was awarded the Nan Price Memorial Scholarship, and graduated with Honours in chamber music and collaborative piano studies with Gabriella Pusner.

Michael has collaborated with artists such Sally Walker, Andy Firth and Jane Edwards, and performed newly commissioned works by Australian composers including Elena Kats-Chernin, Paul Jarman, Don Kay, and Jim Coyle. He held the position of School Accompanist and Teacher of Piano at Newcastle Grammar School for 14 years, touring as pianist to the USA and China, and held a similar position at the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music.

Since moving to Hobart with his husband and their son in early 2020, Michael has performed as orchestral and rehearsal pianist with Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and in the Festival of Voices. He performs regularly as a collaborative pianist in recital, examinations, and competitions in and around Hobart.

Image credit: Graziano Di Martino


Nick Seidenman

Australian-American tenor Nick Seidenman has performed extensively in opera and concerts both here and in the US. His operatic roles include Nemorino (Elisir D'Amore), Rodolfo (La Boheme), Count Almaviva (Barbiere di Seviglia), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni) and many others. He is a regularly-featured tenor soloist in works such as Mozart's Requiem, Verdi's Requiem, and Handel's Messiah. Nick lives in regional Victoria near Bendigo.

Image credit: Glenn Stephenson


Gabrielle Cayoun

Gabrielle Cayoun is a classically-trained pianist and piano tutor who works in a variety of styles, with focus on collaborative piano. Under the tutelage of Dr Arabella Teniswood-Harvey, she was awarded a Conservatorium of Music Scholarship at the University of Tasmania and graduated in 2021 with a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance. She is a twice-recipient of the Royal Over-Seas League Piano Award (2020 & 2021) and was a semi-finalist of the 2021 Ossa Music Prize as member of the improvisational ensemble Silikill.

Samuel Dundas

A graduate of the Melba Conservatorium of Music, Samuel Dundas’ performance experience encompasses opera, musical theatre and concert performances. He has sung in concert throughout Australia and New Zealand, including with the Adelaide, Melbourne, Tasmanian and West Australian Symphony Orchestras, the Australian Youth Orchestra and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.

Major role debuts will be a feature of Samuel Dundas’ year as he performs Wolfram (Tannhäuser) for Opera Australia, the Count (Capriccio) for Victorian Opera, and Donner (Das Rheingold) for Sydney Symphony Orchestra. He also returns to both the TSO and WASO for Faure’s Requiem, to West Australian Opera for Marcello (La Boheme) and appears in the opening concert of Perth Festival, Music of the Spheres. Samuel will finish his year by creating the title role in Richard Mills’ new opera, Galileo.

In recent seasons Samuel has appeared in the role of Aphron in The Golden Cockerel for Adelaide Festival, as Marcello and the title role (Voss) for State Opera South Australia, (Marcello also for Opera Australia) Beethoven Symphony No. 9 and Mozart‘s Requiem for Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Carmina Burana for Festival of Voices, Hobart and Adelaide Symphony, Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, for Victorian Opera, and given recitals, The Wanderer’s Life, in Burnie and for the Ten Days on the Island Festival, for Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and in the Chamber Landscapes series at Ukaria for Adelaide Festival.

Samuel joined Opera Australia as a member of the Moffatt Oxenbould Young Artist program and subsequently became a principal artist with the company, where his many roles include Marcello (La Boheme), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte), Papageno and Priest (The Magic Flute), Dr Malatesta (Don Pasquale), Belcore (The Elixir of Love), Silvio (Pagliacci), Marquis (La Traviata), Prosdocimo (Il turco in Italia), Yamadori (Madama Butterfly), Masetto (Don Giovanni), Ceprano (Rigoletto), Pish Tush (The Mikado), Morales (Carmen), Gaoler (Tosca), Sid (Albert Herring), Fiorello, Ambrogio and Notary as well as covering Figaro (The Barber of Seville), Doctor/Inquisitor/Judge/Stanislaus (Candide), Handsome (La Fanciulla del West), Cascada (The Merry Widow) and Starveling (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). He has also taken the title role in Opera Australia’s Regional Tour of Don Giovanni and the roles of the High Priest, Politician and The Reporter in Sydney Opera House: The Opera, celebrating Opera Australia’s 60th Anniversary Season on the steps of the Sydney Opera House.

Further opera engagements include the title role in a new opera Ned Kelly (Styles) commissioned by Lost & Found Opera and Perth Festival; Dancairo and Morales in Carmen for State Opera South Australia; Count Carl Magnus Malcolm in A Little Night Music for Victorian Opera; Papageno (The Magic Flute) for New Zealand Opera; Marcello (La Bohème) for Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour; Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor), Count Almaviva (The Marriage of Figaro) and Valentin (Faust) for West Australian Opera; Marcello in Hanoi, Vietnam and Morales and Mercutio (Romeo and Juliet) in concert performances with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.

After making his operatic debut with Opera Queensland in 2005, Samuel went on to become a member of Victorian Opera’s Artist Development program. Roles he has performed with Victorian Opera include the title role in Don Giovanni, Papageno (The Magic Flute), Golaud (Pelléas et Mélisande), Harasta (The Cunning Little Vixen), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte), Belcore, Harlequin (Ariadne auf Naxos), the Second Soldier (The Love of the Nightingale), Creon/The Messenger (Oedipus Rex) and Chief Clerk (Metamorphosis), as well as Schaunard in the Puccini: The Sacred and Profane Gala concert.

Further concert engagements have included Fauré Requiem with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Carmina Burana with the Adelaide and West Australian Symphony Orchestras, Fauré Requiem with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Brahms Requiem with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Chorus and Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Opera Under The Stars, Broome, and the inaugural concert at the Melbourne Recital Centre in Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music.

In 2013 Samuel won the Lady Fairfax New York Scholarship and in 2014 was the proud recipient of the inaugural Dame Heather Begg Award.

Image credit: David Noles

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