By Ibarra C. Mateo
World famous Filipino tenor Arthur Espiritu is Edgardo di Ravenswood and French soprano Melody Louledjian the Lucia Ashton in the Philippine premiere of Gaetano Donizetti’s “Lucia de Lammermoor” which opens on Jan. 31, 2020, 8 pm, at the CCP Main Theater.
“We are 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,” Zenaida R. Tantoco, Rustan Group of Companies chairman and chief executive officer, told members of the press.
“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,” Tantoco said during the press launch of the opera.
Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Giorgio Guglielmino said “we finally made it,” alluding to the long process that it took for the Lucia cast to be assembled and finalized.
Guglielmino said his stay in the Philippines as ambassador started with the staging of L’elisir d’amore, also an opera by Donizetti, in 2017.
“Lucia de Lammermoor’s Philippine premiers is perfectly timed. It begins the mounting of a string of cultural events for the entire month of February,” Guglielmino said.
“Let us have a third opera as I have two more years in the Philippines,” the ambassador said.
The opera Lucia de Lammermoor, described as “the compelling yet tragic tale of the bride of Lammermoor,” will have a matinee show on Feb. 2, 2020 (Sunday), at 3 pm, also at the CCP Main Theater.
Collaborating for the Lucia’s Philippine premiere are the following: CCP, Rustan Group of Companies, the Filipinas Opera Society Foundation, and the Embassy of Italy Manila.
From the genius of Italian composer 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.
However, Lucia is forced by her brother Enrico to marry another nobleman named Arturo.
Believing her brother’s lie that Edgardo has betrayed her, Lucia was devastated and filled with 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.
Making a rare Philippine appearance, tenor Espiritu portrays Sir Edgardo di Ravenswood, the man Lucia loves but could not marry.
Singing and acting in an opera is “presenting yourself (to your partner) similar to a dialogue,” Espiritu said.
For its Philippine premiere, soprano Louledjian brings to life Lucia’s plight and descent into madness.
“I cannot touch the version of Maria Callas (as Lucia). I just have to find my own way. It is a big big work. I have been preparing for this role for years. And now I have it,” Louledjian said.
Baritone Byeong In Park takes the role of Lord Enrico Ashton, Lord of Lammermoor and Lucia’s brother, while tenor Ivan Nery plays Lord Arturo Bucklaw, Lucia’s bridegroom.
Playing three roles in the opera, Park said “I love my roles.”
Completing the opera cast are: 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 provides 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, joins the ensemble.
Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini directs the opera and designs the set and costumes, with Ravivaddhana Monipong Sisowath as assistant director, Giovanni Pirandello as lighting director and Giampaolo Lomi Ormanni as creative project coordinator.
Travaglini said the Philippine premiere of Lucia will have the opera’s full version, except for one scene which the conductor decided not to perform.
The opera performances will benefit the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra Society (PPOSI) and the Philippine Italian Association (PIA) Endowment Fund.
Lucia di Lammermoor is presented in cooperation with Hilton Manila, SSI Group, Inc., East West Bank, San Miguel Corp., LCS Group of Companies.
The opera is made possible also through the help of the following Supporters of Arts and Culture: Hermes, Danny Dolor, Ambassador and Mrs. Antonio M. Lagdameo, Rustan Coffee Corp., and Advanced Foundation Construction Systems Corp. MAC Cosmetics Philippines is the official make-up sponsor.
Tickets are priced at: P5,000 (Gala) / P2,500 (Matinee) for Orchestra Center; P3,000 / P1,500 for Orchestra Sides, P1,500 / P800 for Balcony I Center; and P1,000 / P500 for Balcony I Sides.
For tickets, call the CCP Box Office at 8832-3704, or TicketWorld at 8891-9999. For more information, visit http://www.culturalcenter.gov.ph.
Images by CCP
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