After being singled out by critics as a vocal standout in “Il Pirata” in Theater St. Gallen in Switzerland, Filipino tenor Arthur Espiritu is all set for another landmark engagement at the Oper Klosterneuburg in Vienna as Alfredo in “La Traviata,” which will run July 11 until Aug. 3.
His Violetta is Russian soprano Eugena Dushina, recipient of the Grand Prix Maria Callas and winner of the Feruccio Tagliavini Competitions.
The production is part of the yearly Austrian opera festival held at the baroque imperial court of the monastery Klosterneuburg in Lower Austria.
Meanwhile, Bellini’s seldom staged opera, “Il Pirata,” acquired a new life in the recent staging at Theater St. Gallen in Switzerland, and received a standing ovation. Espiritu was a hit among critics along with Joyce el-Khoury who was Imogene. “Il Pirata” was Espiritu’s fourth Bellini opera after “I Capuleti,” “La Sonnambula” and “I Puritani.” The first he finds the easiest but “Sonnambula” and “Il Pirata” are “just as hard. with notes above the passaggio.”
The tenor said he started studying the part last year when he consulted his teachers in New York and New Orleans. To his relief, the role settled comfortably into his voice. “I was a bit self-conscious about it for a while. For one, the tenor role sits very high in the tessitura. It is an entirely different register if you ask me.”
The opera was directed by Ben Baur. The St. Gallen Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Pietro Rizzo.
Espiritu said the sudden vocal transition from Bellini to Verdi he found as manageable. “I have made the transition from ‘Boheme’ to ‘Traviata,’ but it took a little while to get the body used to the placement and conditioning. I would probably see how my technique holds up. One can never tell how the body reacts to certain repertoire shifts, but one can always trust a good technique to tackle different kinds of repertoire.”
Espiritu, the first Filipino tenor to sing at La Scala di Milan, will make his first Cultural Center of the Philippines recital on Sept. 26 at the Little Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. –CONTRIBUTED