Before she arrived in Manila, I only saw her photos in posters, leaflets and publicity materials. But when I finally met her face-to-face, I was immediately fascinated by her. Italian Soprano Elena Monti from the La Scala in Milan is a beautiful, blue-eyed petite lady who easily warmed up to us. I told her the photos don’t give her justice.
We were expecting a serious diva but we were wrong. There was not a hint of haughtiness in a celebrity of her caliber. At the welcome dinner hosted for her and husband Massimo Rossi by Caruso Ristorante Italiano owner Emilio Mina—who was also responsible for bringing her over for the concert—guests, friends of Caruso restaurant, the Italian community and music lovers were all in awe at her friendliness. She was mingling and granting photo opportunities with them—she truly made a very good impression!
The next day, Monti performed at Emilio Mina and Nedy Tantoco’s perfectly organized concert at the Little Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. It was probably the best Soprano concert ever presented in the Philippines.
The concert had two parts. First Elena sang with a piano, played by CCP President Raul Sunico and a duet with tenor Ronan Ferrer. The second part, Italian Maestro Ruggiero Barbieri, who was also flown in by Emilio, had a surprise for his well known Pinoy audience: a traditional “pocket orchestra.” With this little orchestra, where every instrument was a soloist, Barbieri was able to create the real sound for the opera music in the little theater.
Elena enchanted the audience from the first moment up to the end. Suddenly, the ambience of the Scala in Milano was transported to Manila, not only by Elena’s outstanding world-class voice, but also by her emotional stage presence while acting to the arias. The audience did not want to let her go and one set of encore was not enough—she was forced to give three, but her reward was a long standing ovation for the cheering crowd.
It is a pity that she only gave a one-night concert but he promised to come back as she will be conducting master classes for future opera singers. Elena will soon be performing as Violetta in La traviata at Teatro La fenice in Venice and Flordiligi in Cosi Fan Tutte at Teatro Comunale in Florence. Congratulations Elena and hope to see you back soon!
Very timely that she was still in town when Italian Ambassador Massimo Roscigno and Madame Agnes Roscigno hosted the celebration of the 70th Republic Day of Italy (Festa Della Republica) on June 2, at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila. The Republic Day is the most important celebration in Italy, marking the abolition of monarchial rule in 1946 via a referendum and the establishment of a fully-fledged democracy. Ambassador Massimo in his speech highlighted the milestones of Philippine-Italy relations since July 9, 1947 spanning the different areas of cooperation—political, defense, commercial, development cooperation and people to people exchanges.
Acting Foreign Secretary Rafael Seguis thanked Ambassador Massimo and the Italian government for his efforts to expand and enhance the already strong bilateral relations, which was reinforced by the official visit of President Aquino in Rome in December 2015 where he had official meetings with President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Despite heavy rains and traffic, the celebration was well attended by about 500 guests from the government, diplomatic corps, business and society sectors and of course the Italian community.