ROSSINI’S comic opera Cenerentola, an amusing innovative variation of the Cinderella theme, had a spectacular cast and an excellent orchestra. Singaporean conductor Darrell Ang himself, in his printed message, describes the cast as “spectacular”.
The singers were mezzo-soprano Karin Mushegain, tenor Arthur Espiritu, Singaporean baritone Byeong In Park, bass baritone Noel Azcona, sopranos Myramae Meneses and Tanya Corcuera and bass Ronnie Marquez.
Ang, for his part, was vibrant, energetic, vividly emphatic—in a word, dynamic—sustaining the spirited and lively ambiance of the opera as he wielded the baton over the Manila Symphony Orchestra.
The musical essence of the opera was admirably maintained by the singers who carried out to the fullest extent the composer’s intention and aim. However, the emotive and dramatic end result of their performance was rather curtailed by the presentation of the opera in concert form. The orchestra occupied almost the entire stage, limiting the action and movement of the singers who faced the audience while standing on a very small space, with the stands for the scores often blurring the view.
Sisters Clorinda and Thisbe (Meneses and Corcuera) strained credulity to a certain extent: one was tall and buxom; the other, petite and trim. But how flagrantly flirtatious were they!
The audience thrilled to the outstanding renditions of tenor Espiritu, Don Ramiro, the Prince in search of a bride; Singaporean baritone Park, Don Ramiro’s valet; bass-baritone Azcona, Don Magnifico, father of the two sisters; bass Marquez, Don Ramiro’s tutor.
Full-throated, they sang as soloists, or in pairs or all together, their voices sonorous, resonant, strikingly powerful. In some episodes, Azcona’s portrayal of Don Magnifico vastly amused.
As Cenerentola (Cinderella, the step-sister), the beautiful, statuesque mezzo-soprano Mushegain was the alluringly coy, shy, modest maid who reluctantly accepts the advances of Don Ramiro. She sang magnetically, her superbly controlled, luminous voice rising to the heavens while she maintained her stance as a lowly, household help. Later, she was even more enthralling as the bride in her elegant finery, singing in a lambent duet with Don Ramiro.
The opening of Act II wholly belonged to Espiritu as he emoted with eloquent conviction. Consistently gaining momentum, he rendered top notes with verve and intensity, dominating the scene brilliantly.
Deserving the highest praise, the Aleron All-Male Choir enhanced the operatic concert with a remarkably cohesive, disciplined, forceful and splendidly assertive performance.