THE FIRST-EVER Manila staging of Rossini’s “La Cenerentola” (Cinderella) will take place Aug. 15, 8 p.m., at the Meralco Theater, with the country’s leading tenor Arthur Espiritu as Don Ramiro, and with the Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO) under the baton of acclaimed young conductor Darrell Ang.
The one-night Manila engagement is a virtual local preview of the opera, which will be seen as a Brigitte Fassbaender production at Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz in Munich on Nov. 5 with the Filipino tenor in the same role.
The Manila production also features Karin Michegen, Byeong In Park, Noel Azcona, Myramae, Meneses, Tanya Corcuera and Ronaldo Abarquez.
Espiritu was last heard in the same role three years ago with the Pittsburg Opera, after which a Pittsburg critic noted the Filipino tenor was superb, “singing with an appealing lyric quality that matches his character’s temperament.”
“He first appears having switched roles with his servant, who pretends to be the noble searching for a wife,” the critic added. “Espiritu, as the servant, maintained a certain dignity, which, of course, provides continuity for his character when his true identity is revealed.”
Composed by Rossini when he was just 25 years old and completed in three weeks, “La Cenerentola” is not new in the tenor’s vocal turf.
“This is the role that I normally do, and it is my favorite,” said Espiritu. “My voice sits very comfortable in this role, and I love the character development as the opera develops. It is a vocal feat, to say the least.
You have to be able to sing the runs, the legato lines, and the high notes. Also, you have to be involved in a lot of the ensemble sections. It is a tour de force for a tenor. Fortunately, the body of my voice sits high, and it fits well with this role.”
But the tenor said singing Rossini was a walk in the park.
“Rossini is a composer who composes for the singers,” said Espiritu. “He has the vocal lines in mind, and it is so easy to be able to play with some lines and make your own mark within his vocal compositions.
“To be able to show your flexibility and your line—and also your ability to act—is a great opportunity. You have to be able to understand the style properly, and the cadenzas, and how you communicate with your conductor.
“There are some spaces in his works that sometimes leaves holes musically. So, you have to be able to fill those holes with your own interpretations. If not done well, it just won’t sound as interesting.”
With “Cenerentola,” conductor Darrel Ang marks his second engagement with the MSO, which he led in an all-Mozart program a year ago, to great acclaim.
Ang triumphed at the 50th Besançon International Young Conductors Competition, in which he took all three top awards—grand prize, audience prize and orchestra prize.
It launched his international career, leading to the music directorship of the Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne, and numerous guest-conducting engagements with Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National de Lyon, OrchestrePhilharmonique du Strasbourg, Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra, RTVE Symphony Orchestra Madrid, and Hong Kong Philharmonic.
The first Ang-Espiritu collaboration with MSO last year was so successful that Filipino music lovers demanded a return engagement.
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