Saturday, January 23, 2016

Future of Philippine opera shines in concert

Roxy Aldiosa, soprano
Jan Briane Astom, tenor
Carlo Bunyi, baritone
Michaela Fajardo, soprano
Mheco Manlangit, soprano
Carlo Mañalac, tenor
Myramae Meneses, soprano
Anna Migallos, soprano
Nomher Nival, tenor
Stefanie Quintin, soprano
Mia Ariana Tanciongco, soprano
Marielle Tuason, soprano
Iona Ventocilla, soprano
Najib Ismail, piano
Gabriel Allan Paguirian, piano

Full length opera productions in the Philippines are a rarity which is a shame since there’s an abundance of talent in here. And a small number of these talents, thirteen to be exact, showed off their operatic vocal chops at a concert entitled A Night at the Opera, their culminating recital held at the Ayala Museum after going through an intensive three day workshop under famed Filipino tenor Arthur Espiritu.

The performers, namely Roxy Aldiosa, Jan Briane Astom, Carlo Bunyi, Michaela Fajardo, Mheco Manlangit, Carlo Mañalac, Myramae Meneses, Anna Migallos, Nomher Nival, Stefanie Quintin, Mia Ariana Tanciongco, Marielle Tuason, and Iona Ventocilla each had their moment to shine as they sang works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Gaetano Donizetti, Gioachino Rossini, Giacomo Puccini, Giacomo Meyerbeer, and Roger Quilter. They were accompanied by pianists Najib Ismail and Gabriel Allan Paguirigan.

When Myramae along with Iona kicked things off with Prenderò quel brunettino from Mozart’s Così fan tutte, I had a realization that unsettled me for a bit. Myramae, who just a few years ago was a promising newcomer to the scene, now appeared as the seasoned veteran, along with Nomher Nival, in this concert. These two later on sang arias from Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore with Myramae doing Prendi, per me sei libero while Nomher delivering Una furtiva lagrima. Iona, on the other hand, gave me my first taste of Mozart’s Don Giovanni with Mi tradi quell'alma ingrata.

The evening served as an introduction for me to unfamiliar faces like Mia Ariana Tanciongco who sang Porgi, amor, qualche ristoro from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Carlo Bunyi who did Madamina, il catalogo è questo from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Marielle Tuason (Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben from Mozart’s Zaide), Mheco Manlangit (Chi il bel sogno di Doretta from Puccini’s La Rondine), and Anna Migallos (Donde lieta usci from Puccini’s La Boheme).

It was also the first time for me to see familiar faces like Michaela Fajardo (Voi che sapete from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro), Carlo Mañalac (Quanto è bella, quanto è cara from Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore), Roxy Aldiosa (Una voce poco fa from Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia) perform as soloists. I’ve seen them a handful of times perform as members of Viva Voce so it’s nice to hear their solo voices at last.

Another very familiar face is Jan Briane Astom (Come Away Death from Quilter’s 3 Shakespeare Songs, Op. 6) and seeing him sing was a departure from what I know of him as a pianist. This wouldn’t be the first time for someone to change tracks since Myramae actually had her start as a violinist before switching to operatic singing.

The one who stole the show was Stefanie Quintin who dazzled with great dynamics, humor and charm despite most of us in the audience not having any idea what the French words of Ombre légère from Meyerbeer’s Dinorah mean. Later did I find out that the aria is actually a duet for one with Dorinah singing alongside with her shadow.

Aside from the solos, there were also duets between Mheco and Marielle (Sull'aria...che soave zeffiretto from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro) and Nomher and Anna (O soave fanciulla from Puccini’s La bohème) that eventually capped the concert. For an encore, all the performers sang Ikaw ang Mahal Ko by Tito Arevalo and Levi Celerio, a surprising choice but eventually a breath of fresh air since it was not yet another Libiamo ne' lieti calici which has already been done to death.

Throughout the concert, I was greatly amused seeing Arthur Espiritu get all excited and nervous as he watched at the sidelines. At the start, he gave opening remarks and told the audience how these young singers need the support especially when they pursue further studies to improve their craft. He clearly wanted these young singers to have the opportunities he has had to study and perform in opera productions here and abroad. Of course, the audience didn’t let the evening end without Arthur singing and he caved in to demands and did Giuseppe Verdi’s La donna è mobile from Rigoletto.

It’s been only few years since I got first exposed to full length operas and this night only told me that there are still new faces and voices to discover and more operas to explore out there. A Night at the Opera was presented by Cultural Arts Events Organizers and MusicArtes Inc.

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