Much has been made of the numbers involved in this event: over 300 choristers, combined with nearly 100 orchestral musicians of the Melbourne Symphony, in the vast space that is Hamer Hall. But wait, theres more. In addition to the 160 singers in the Melbourne Symphony Chorus there were 115 from the Bach Choir from London. That meant a lot of flight time to get them here, not to mention costs. More importantly, consider the logistics and number of rehearsal hours involved in preparing for a performance of just 90 minutes (the Verdi was the only work on the program). Was it worth it? Absolutely. Even for a seasoned concertgoer this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, one that the most sophisticated audio-visual equipment could not even hope to reproduce. It would be easy to think that was because of the sheer volume and power of sound for example, in the famous Dies Irae and the Sanctus, which showed the double choir to effect. But it was something different: the distillation of all that preparation, musicality and will to a single purpose, as directed by maestro Oleg Caetani. So that the quieter passages (from the opening, Requiem) had their own power, as words and the score were allowed to be deeply felt. The soloists soprano, Aivale Cole, mezzo Lilli Passikivi, tenor Virgilio Marino and bass Askar Abdrazakov were heard to advantage in Lux, Recordare and other gentle sections of the work. Only the bass had much hope of being heard over a choir in full swing, with the others having apparently been chosen more for the sweetness of their voices. Two notes about the programs: the notes written by David Garrett some years earlier were an intelligent guide through the work and showed how well this performance matched up to Verdis intentions. And, unusually, the programs were free a welcome gift from the Melbourne Symphony.