Well-staged ‘L’elisir d’Amore’ at CCP | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’amore” had its Philippine premiere last Oct. 7 with Manila’s opera lovers and culturati in full attendance.

Easily the standouts were the set design of Maurizio Varamo and costumes of Otello Camponeschi who made sure everything was authentic to the period.

The direction of Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini—with Sigsworth Ravivaddhana Monipong providing support as  consultant—was very competent and was rewarded by the audience with warm applause.

When Costa Rican tenor David Astorga opened with “Cuanto e bella” in the first act, one realized here was one Nemorino who could dominate the opera. It was a solid tenor voice that was warm as it was hugely appealing.

But in the first act, everybody noticed he sounded like he was singing from afar as the voice seemed to be trailing off with every phrase. It was possible that the excellent opera sets had absorbed the sound and failed to project to the audience.

Filmmaker Carlitos Siguion-Reyna said the sound was not that poor when he watched Eugene Onegin in the same hall and one agreed.

Soprano Elena Monti sang and acted Adina with energy and flair but at some points, it was obvious her tessitura had seen better days. But her acting was pure joy and one wished she didn’t lose steam in the Adina-Dulcamara duet, “Cuanto amore.”

Pure soprano

Rachelle Gerodias-Park as the gossiping Gianetta sang as a  limpid and pure soprano. Her singing found its mark in every scene and one wished she had a longer singing part.

Byeong-in Park’s Sergeant Belcore resonated well with the audience. The Doctor Dulcamara of Francesco Vultaggio was a delight and the Koro Tomasino proved a versatile singing and acting ensemble.

    The sound in the theater improved just in time for the most awaited aria, “Una furtiva lagrima,” sang with such fervor and tenderness by tenor Astorga. The interpretation was so good that he received roars of “Bravo!” and a prolonged applause.

    The Philippine Philharmonic under Ruggero Barbieri did justice to the Donizetti lines but in some parts, it certainly could use some energy.

In his remarks, Cultural Center of the Philippines president Arsenio Lizaso hoped that with this latest opera production, millennials would find it in their heart to connect with Italian operas and with classical music in general.

    New Italian ambassador Giorgio Guglielmino said his work in the Philippines would  focus on enhancing the cultural ties between Italy and the Philippines. “I am really glad my first official function was addressing Manila’s opera lovers,” he remarked.

  The opera—mounted by Rustan’s chair Zeneida Tantoco with two former CCP presidents Raul Sunico and Nes Jardin as co-executive producers—was part of the festivities marking the 70th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between Italy and the Philippines. It was also held to raise funds for the construction of the San Pablo Apostol Parish church in Tondo, Manila. —CONTRIBUTED

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