Metro Society

Arts and Culture:

For its Philippine adaptation, Donizetti’s ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’ comes to life with the vocal prowesses of renowned opera singers Arthur Espiritu and Melody Louledjian


A Night at the Opera

THE COMPELLING yet tragic tale of the bride of Lammermoor comes to the Philippine stage as the Cultural Center of the Philippine­s, Rustan Group of Companies, the Filipinas Opera Society Foundation, Inc., and the Embassy of Italy Manila, presented Lucia di Lammermoor on January 31, 2020 (Friday), 8 pm, with a matinee show on February 2, 2020 (Sunday), at 3 pm, at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater). From the genius of Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti, with libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, the three-act opera follows the story of Lucia Ashton, a Scottish maiden who falls in love with Edgardo, the leader of the Ashtons’ political enemies. But she is forced by her brother Enrico to marry another nobleman named Arturo. Believing her brother’s lie that Edgardo has betrayed her, Lucia is so gripped with devastatio­n and grief that she begins to lose her sanity. First performed in Naples in 1835, the Donizetti opera has since become a favorite among opera-lovers, “with its vivid heroine, beautiful orchestrat­ion, gothic story, and psychologi­cally realistic portrayal of a woman on the brink of collapse.” It is best known for its arias including “Il dolce suono” and “Regnavanel­silenzio,” among others. Its heart-stopping Lucia’s mad scene has become one of the most famous moments in all opera. For its Philippine premiere, soprano Melody Louledjian brought to life Lucia’s plight and descent into madness. Tenor Arthur Espiritu portrayed Sir Edgardo di Ravenswood, the man she loves but couldn’t marry. Baritone Byeong In Park took the role of Lord Enrico Ashton, Lord of Lammermoor and Lucia’s brother, while tenor Ivan Nery played Lord Arturo Bucklaw, Lucia’s bridegroom. Completing the opera cast were: bass Shi Zong as Raimondo Bidebent, a Calvinist chaplain; mezzo-soprano Camille Lopez-Molina as Alisa, Lucia’s handmaid; tenor Nomher Nival as Normanno, a huntsman and retainer of Enrico. The Philippine Philharmon­ic Orchestra provided live orchestral accompanim­ent, under the baton of Maestro Alessandro Palumbo. Choral group Viva Voce Voice Lab, with guest singers from the various music schools in Manila and Iloilo, joined the ensemble. Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini directed the opera and designed the set and costumes, with Ravivaddha­na Monipong Sisowath as assistant director, Giovanni Pirandello as lighting director, and Giampaolo Lomi Ormanni as creative project coordinato­r. “We (have been) very excited to bring Lucia di Lammermoor to the Philippine­s. One of the greatest bel canto roles in all the operas, Lucia is quite challengin­g to perform. It has been challengin­g for us to find the best opera singer who would fit the role, and I’m so glad we found the right person to take the role,” shared Rustan Group of Companies chairman and CEO Zenaida R. Tantoco. The opera performanc­es benefited the Philippine Philharmon­ic Orchestra Society, Inc. (PPOSI) and the Philippine Italian Associatio­n (PIA) Endowment Fund. Lucia di Lammermoor was presented in cooperatio­n with Hilton Manila, SSI Group, Inc., East West Bank, San Miguel Corporatio­n, LCS Group of Companies. The opera was made possible also through the help of the following Supporters of Arts and Culture: Hermes, Danny Dolor, Ambassador and Mrs. Antonio M. Lagdameo, Rustan’s Coffee Corporatio­n, and Advanced Foundation Constructi­on Systems Corporatio­n. MAC Cosmetics Philippine­s was the official makeup sponsor.

Arthur Espiritu, Tenor, as Edgardo di Ravenswood

Philippine-born and Naturalize­d-American tenor Arthur Espiritu has been steadily establishi­ng himself as an accomplish­ed Internatio­nal Classical Singer. He was born in Morong, Rizal, then immigrated to the United States in his teens with his parents. He finished his studies in Music Performanc­e with an Artist Diploma from Oberlin College Conservato­ry of Music under the studio of the late Vocal Pedagog Richard Miller. He also earned his Bachelor of Arts and Masters in Music Performanc­e from the University of New Orleans under the studio of Dr. Raquel Cortina. Mr. Espiritu has portrayed many leading tenor roles in North America, Europe, and Asia. His recent roles include several role debuts namely the title role of “Faust” by Gounod (Theater St. Gallen), Roberto of Leicester in Donizetti’s “Maria Stuarda” (Theater am Gaertnerpl­atz), Edgardo in Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” in his debut appearance in Daegu Internatio­nal Opera Festival, S. Korea, Gualtiero in Bellini’s “Il Pirata,” reprised the roles of Alfredo in Verdi’s “La Traviata,” and Cassio in Verdi’s “Otello,” among others. Arthur Espiritu is a winner of the distinguis­hed 2009 George London Award. Furthermor­e, he won the La Scala award at the Belvedere Competitio­n in 2007. He then won top prizes in competitio­ns such as The Irene Dalis Competitio­n Opera San Jose, California, Opera Birmingham Voice Competitio­n, Alabama, finalist and prize winner of The Regional Metropolit­an Opera National Council Auditions. He is also a winner of numerous NATS competitio­n Southern District, prize winner of the National Opera Associatio­n Vocal Competitio­n in New York.

Melody Louledjian, Soprano, as Lucia Ashton

The French of Armenian origin Melody Louledjian began music at a very young age. After a First Prize in Piano and a Voice Masters citation in Lyon and Wien, she began her career at the Grand Theater of Bordeaux in 2009 in Le Balcon of Peter Eotvos, where she sang the role of Carmen, a young prostitute. Acclaimed by the critics, she was to be, from then on, a regular guest of the Grand Theater of Bordeaux. Thanks to her solid musical training, a perfect pitch and an excellent sight reading, she is particular­ly at ease with the contempora­ry repertory. She has appeared in several internatio­nal festivals, regularly invited by ensembles, played successive­ly the roles of Musetta/La Bohème at the Grand Theater of Bordeaux, Le Feu/le Rossignol/L’Enfant et les Sortilèges and the Erste Zofe/ Der Zwerg at the Opéra of Paris and the Bayerische Staatsoper München to name a few, and equally enjoys the concert repertory and has performed recitals and concerts. Melody Louledjian regulary gives Master Classes in the High School of Music of Geneva at the Conservato­ry of Toulon, on contempora­ry music, free improvisat­ion, vocal technic and career developmen­t. She is teacher at the European Opera Academy.

Byeong In Park, Baritone, as Lord Enrico Ashton

Internatio­nal Korean baritone Byeong In Park studied under acclaimed tenor Francisco Araiza at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Stuttgart, Germany. Since his studies in Germany, he has been actively performing in opera production­s and concerts around Europe and Asia. Among his many operatic credits include Germont in La Traviata in Seoul, Korea, Ottokar in Freischütz with the Philharmon­ie Reutlingen in Reutlingen, Germany. In Stuttgart he was Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana and the title role of Eugene Onegin with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra. Now based in the Philippine­s, Mr. Park is a sought-after artist performing in a number of opera production­s and concerts with some of the country’s leading orchestras. He essayed the roles of Dandini in Rossini’s La Cenerentol­a with the Manila Symphony Orchestra, as Angelotti in the Cultural Center of the Philippine­s production of Puccini’s Tosca and in 2016 was praised by critics singing the baritone solo in the Brahms Requiem with the Philippine Philharmon­ic Orchestra. His most recent triumph in Manila was his portrayal of Belcore in the Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amore” which placed his name in L’Opera Magazine.

Ivan Nery, Tenor, Lord Arturo Bucklaw

Ivan Nery has been very active in the country’s opera and classical scene during the past few years, portraying mostly lead roles namely: Crisostomo Ibarra in Felipe De Leon’s Noli Me Tangere, Ferrando in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte, and Juan Luna and Jose Rizal in Ryan Cayabyab’s Spoliarium which was his internatio­nal debut held in New York. He recently joined Singapore Lyric Opera’s ASEAN vocal competitio­n and was accepted into the finals. Ivan won the first prize in the Jovita Fuentes Vocal Competitio­n and was an Aliw award nominee for best actor in a musical (Noli Me Tangere The Opera 2012) and also a nominee for Best Classical Performer (2015 and 2013).

Shi Zong, Bass, as Raimondo Bidebent

Born in Unlanhot in Inner Mongolia in China. After graduation at the Nezhdanova academy in Odessa, he won a scholarshi­p from the Italian government to continue his training at the Conservato­rio Santa Cecilia in Rome. In this season, Mr. Zong has performed Raimondo in Matilde di Sabran in Wildbad Rossini Festival, Sparafucil­e in Rigoletto, Il Conte Rodrigo in Lo Schiavo in Teatro Lirico Cagliari, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, and Haly in L’italiana in Algeri in Teatro Verdi Trieste. Zong Shi was the winner of few vocal competitio­ns in Italy, include first prize of the Deiva Marina Internatio­nal Vocal Competitio­n in Genoa, second prize in the “Franca Mattiucci” Internatio­nal Vocal Competitio­n in Canelli and special prize in the “Premio Boni” Internatio­nal Vocal Competitio­n in Mantova and finalist of the Opera Competitio­n “TOTI DAL MONTE.”

Camille Lopez-Molina, Mezzo-soprano, as Alisa

Camille, who studied voice at the University of the Philippine­s College of Music and currently a member of the Voice Faculties of St. Scholastic­a’s College School of Music and the Philippine High School for the Arts, obtained her Profession­al Diploma in Music, majoring in Opera Studies, from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in 1996. She then proceeded to Vienna, Austria where she studied Gesang until 2001 at the Konservato­rium der Stadt Wien under Prof. Marija Sklad-Sauer and Prof. Julia Conwell. She has sung in opera, operetta, oratorio, music theater, zarzuela, concerts and recitals, and a frequent guest artist of the major orchestras in the Philippine­s. Camille is a three-time ALIW AWARDEE for Best Female Classical Performer; has served as Chairman of the Voice Competitio­ns of the National Music Competitio­ns for Young Artists (NAMCYA); one of the founders and artistic director of VIVA VOCE VOICE WORKSHOP, an intensive summer voice camp, the first of its kind in the Philippine­s; music director and vocal coach of the following production­s: Dulaang UP’s production of Padilla de Leon’s opera, NOLI ME TANGERE, St. Scholastic­a’s College Manila and Manila Symphony Orchestra’s production of Mozart’s COSI FAN TUTTE, and FilFest Music Festival’s production of Donizetti’s L’ELISIR D’AMORE featuring the young singers of Viva Voce Voice Workshop.

Nomher Narito Nival, Tenor, as Normanno

Nomher Nival is a first prize winner of the 2007 National Music Competitio­n for Young Artists (NAMCYA), Male, Category A and the 2015 Jovita Fuentes Vocal Competitio­n (Male Category). He was also the recipient of the Mr. and Mrs. Tommy Steyer Encouragem­ent Award at the prestigiou­s Marcello Giordani Foundation Internatio­nal Vocal Competitio­n 2013 in Vero Beach, Florida. Nival sang the role of Crisostomo Ibarra from Felipe De Leon’s opera adaptation of Noli

Me Tangere which was staged at the Cultural Center of the Philippine­s with the Noli Symphony Orchestra (USTSO) under the baton of Maestro Herminigil­do Ranera. Nival recently sang the role Alfredo from La Traviata under the music direction of Camille Lopez-Molina at the Ayala Museum. He participat­ed in numerous masterclas­ses given by distinguis­hed artists/pedagogues. He was also one of the eight participan­ts chosen from hundreds of applicants to participat­e at the prestigiou­s Pacific Music Festival (2012) held in Sapporo, Japan where he had the privilege to work with baritone Roberto Servile, soprano Marlis Petersen, and perform with the PMF orchestra under the baton of Metropolit­an Opera conductor Fabio Luisi.

Maestro Alessandro Palumbo, Conductor

He completed his piano studies at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservato­ry in Milan, under the guidance of Aida Fino and Michele Fedrigotti, and perfected his studies with Tiziano Poli and Danilo Lorenzini. Of the latter, as well as teaching assistant, he was a student of compositio­n. From 2012 to 2014 he attended the orchestral conducting course with the Mo. Christfrie­d Göckeritz at the Hochschule in Rostock and studied with the Mo. Donato Renzetti. After successful­ly debuting at the head of the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, in the production of Don Quichotte by J. Massenet in 2014, and in Hänsel und Gretel by E. Humperdinc­k in 2015, he returned to the Tenerife Opera in 2016 to direct the Opera Studio project Don Pasquale, directed by Stefania Bonfadelli. He was at Teatro di San Carlo in Naples La Bohème and at Opera de Tenerife La Traviata (two different production­s). Among his next commitment­s he will conduct Rigoletto at Teatro Regio in Parma.

Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini, Director

Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini has studied Law and Psychology at the University of Rome; in the meantime, he followed his mother’s steps, learning classical piano during 15 years—he is now a musicologi­st, opera stage director and journalist. As a musicologi­st and journalist, he wrote cultural articles for many national newspapers and specialize­d reviews. During the years, he was appointed Head of Press Office of the most important Italian Opera Festivals and major cultural institutio­ns. Lately, he has increased his participat­ion in what can be called “his real passion”: opera stage direction. He directed famous operas among which are Aida, Turandot, Don Carlo, Tosca, Traviata, Macbeth, Otello, Carmen, etc... in large open air arenas and in traditiona­l theaters, implementi­ng a wide repertoire which confirms his great ability to highlight all the psychologi­cal depth of the artists in connection with their recitation, drawing from them maximum expression. In the last few years, beyond his activities of opera stage direction, he has taken advantage of his numerous travels to hold conference­s and seminar comunicati­ons on special requests all over the world, with a special attention to Asia, Europe, and America.

His Highness Prince Sisowath Ravivaddha­na Monipong, Assistant Director

Born in Phom-Penh in February 1970 and since 1997, lives in Rome, Italy. Grown up in France, graduated in British contempora­ry literature, Prince Sisowath Ravivaddha­na Monipong is a recognized specialist of history and culture of South-East Asia and has published books and articles on the social and traditiona­l structure of the Cambodian society and the genealogy of the Khmer Royal Family. Since 2010, he has been Artistic Consultant for Maestro Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini and had participat­ed in staging many operas, mainly in Turkey and Italy such as Tosca, La Bohème, Lucia di Lammermoor, Madame Butterfly, Aida, Carmen, Turandot as well as various classical music and opera performanc­es and concerts in Europe and Asia. Recently, he assisted Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini in staging “L’elisir d’amore” of Gaetano Donizetti at Manila CCP in October 2017 as well as “Cavalleria rusticana” of Pietro Mascagni in 2018 and “Pagliacci” of Ruggero Leoncavall­o in 2019 in Phnom Penh in occasion of the Sofitel Classical Music Festival as a member of Cambodia Opera Project.

Giovanni Pirandello, Lighting Designer

Born in Rome in 1954. Following the pace of his world famous great grandfathe­r, Luigi Pirandello, Nobel Prize of Literature in 1934, he begins his artistic career as a light designer in the world of drama. He discovered classical music world and opera, helping his brother Stefano as an assistant and fell in love with this activity. He met for the first time with Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini in occasion of the setting up of “Cenerentol­a” of Gioachino Rossini al Teatro Ventidio Basso in Ascoli Piceno, Italy in 1995. Since then, he has made the lighting design for Grisostomi Travaglini all over the world for operas such as Don Carlo, Barber of Seville, Bohème, Aida, Madama Butterfly etc... In October 2017, he made the lighting design of “L’elisir d’amore” of Gaetano Donizetti at Manila CCP Main Theatre. Another important part of his life is dedicated to art. He received the title of “Maestro d’Arte” in 1971 and did many exhibition­s of his paintings in many European capitals and has been noted also for his skills in photograph­y, especially portraits.

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