A YOUNG FERRANDO IN MOZART’S COSI FAN TUTTE’
by Pablo A. Tariman
Metro Manila’s music lovers will have a respite from the long opera drought when the MCO Foundation mounts a contemporary version of Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte (All Women Are the Same)” at the Ayala Museum on Monday, November 28.
The opera is basically about two friends who wanted to test the loyalties of their girl-friends by putting on a good disguise as suitors.
Playing Ferrando is 28-year old tenor Carlo Manalac who earlier played Rodolfo in a new version of Puccini’s La Boheme set in Baguio City. Earlier, he was Padre Salve in an earlier staging of “Kanser” and has just wrapped up a series of performances as Crisostomo Ibarra in the musical version.
The tenor admits the role of Ferrando was a first in his opera repertoire and he studied it by listening to the 1996 recording of the opera featuring tenor Frank Lopardo and soprano Renee Fleming. “I chose the recording because you can see a lot of nuances in the music and the characters while they are singing.”
To him, one tough challenge of the opera is that the tenor almost always uses the upper register which is true of all the works of Mozart. “Every time I sing, the feeling is I am always up there with no chances of going down. Another tough part is the difficult passagio which is the transition from one high register to another.”
To have a good look at the opera inside and out, he had to watch the entire opera in different versions. “The English libretto helps a lot to better understand the opera. The difficult part is that you have to be prepared to meet its vocal and mental demands.”
When he sang Boheme as Rodolfo, he noticed that the music has a wider range and with few high notes to worry about. But with Mozart, the arias sit on the passagio and if you are not focused, you’ll be in a lot of vocal trouble.”
Between him and the character, there is a common ground. “Ferrando is very hot-tempered and I am like that too if things don’t go well as planned. The thing is he is very romantic as well.”
He gets to sing the difficult aria “Tradito schernito” in the second act and it requires a lot emotionally because it is about the character’s fits of jealousy and anger. “The tendency to start pushing because of the nature of the music is so tempting. It is also sitting on the passagio (high register) almost all of the time.”
Moreover, he has no doubt the opera will appeal to the millennials in its current version. “I do believe that visually, this Ayala Museum staging will appeal to the millennials even as I know the opera has been staged in different versions. But we saw to it audiences can relate to its contemporary setting.”
Come opening night, Carlo will usually be preoccupied with being happy with his performance. “I must satisfy myself first before I can say I have done my best. I always try to achieve that ‘feel good’ status by putting on a good show. I am almost sure the production will give everyone a stress-free evening. The opera is really light and fun. I am sure every music lover can relate to it.”
The other members of the cast include members of the Viva Voce ensemble namely soprano Anna Migallos as Fiordiligi, soprano Aissa Guilatco as Dorabella, baritone Carlo Falcis as Guilegno, mezzo soprano Roxy Aldiosa as the wacky Despina
and bass baritone Roby Mahusay as Don Alfonso with musical direction by Camille Lopez Molina.
(For tickets to the November 28 performance of Cosi fan tutte, please call Ticketworld at tel. no. 891-9999, MCOF, 997-9483, 782-7184 or cel. no. 0920-9540053 and 0918-347-3027. The opera production was made possible in association with Ayala Museum, Lyric Piano and DZFE. 98.7 The Master’s Touch.)