VIVA Verdi promises to be a grand night indeed.

In fact, one of operatic proportions.

Focused on Italian opera mostly from the 19th century, the splendidly titled event is the next Furness Bach Choir concert, staged on Saturday (7.30pm) at Barrow's St James's Church.

The first half of the performance includes famous choruses from Macbeth, Il Trovatore, Aida, Nabucco - all written by Verdi - and Pagliacci by Leoncavallo.

The second half will be devoted entirely to scenes from Verdi's La Traviata. All the soloists are from the popular choir with Naomi and James Marczak as Violetta and Alfredo and John Brice playing Germont, Alfredo's father. Pianist will be Alex Phillips-Yates.

FBC's prizewinning musical director Marco Bellasi says the first half will be like an "antipasto," setting the mood for the main course which will be a selection from Verdi’s masterpiece La Traviata: "The reason we want to present a selection from the opera rather than sticking to just isolated choruses from the operas is that the genius of Verdi in particular can be only grasped by recreating the whole drama in which the chorus takes part.

"The chorus is actually one of the characters and along with the soloists it takes part in the action and interacts with the main characters."

La Traviata tells the story of the tragic love between the courtesan Violetta and the romantic Alfredo Germont. Played out against the hypocrisy of upper class fashionable society, Alfredo and Violetta’s love threatens to shame his family. When his father directly appeals to Violetta to relinquish her one chance of happiness, Violetta submits and her act of self-sacrifice leads to her paying the ultimate price.

"In my opinion," adds Marco, "Verdi is the greatest opera genius not only because of his music but because he had an impeccable vision of what theatre stands for. His dramas are full of ordinary people and of rejected and isolated figures within the collective.

"In order to grasp some of his immense talent for theatre we need to go beyond just an ordinary opera gala concert and embrace the message that Verdi is presenting to us."

Tickets at the door, from Sutton’s Bookshop, Ulverston, or on 01229-837680.

On Tuesday FBC performs Viva Verdi at Hawkshead Parish Church.