“I am excited to be part of ‘Turandot’ in Manila,” said Italian tenor Alessandro Liberatore, who has arrived for the staging of Puccini’s opera on Dec. 9 and 11 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Main Theater.
Liberatore, who is to sing Calaf, said he was happy to be singing in Manila where Italian opera greats have been heard, such as his teacher Luciano Pavarotti, Franco Corelli, Ferruccio Tagliavini, and Arrigo Pola, among others.
“My teacher Pavarotti taught me not just vocal technique but [also] respect for the opera as art form and its audiences,” the tenor said at the welcome press conference hosted by Nedy Tantoco of the Rustan Group of Companies and CCP president Margie Moran Floirendo.
Liberatore has just sung Calaf in a presentation of “Turandot” in Madrid. “The role, for me, means you have to be princely and imperial in every phrase,” he said.
Asked how he coped with the general shutdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the tenor said: “I learned during the pandemic that a country without art is a country for the dead.”
Theater as second home
Korean diva Lilla Lee will play the title role of Turandot.
In an earlier interview by email, Lee said: “Yes, it’s my first time in the Philippines and I am also excited. I always treat the theater where I am performing as my second home.”
The Chinese princess in Turandot is one of Lee’s major roles in opera, along with Verdi’s Lady Macbeth and Puccini’s Tosca.
She is most sought-after for the role of Turandot in European opera houses, and her most memorable performance of it, per her own reckoning, was at the famous Arena di Verona with the Verona Philharmonic Orchestra.
Her favorite Turandot is Birgit Nilsson, with Corelli singing Calaf. (Nilsson sang Turandot, with Filipino soprano Evelyn Mandac singing Liu, with the Seattle Opera many years back. Corelli sang in Manila in the early 1970s for the fundraising projects of then first lady Imelda Marcos.)
Lee grew up in Korea and moved to Italy for further studies. A graduate of the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory and the Novara Conservatory, she has won several competitions including the 2009 Iris Adami Corradetti Competition.
At the CCP, Korean bass Jinsu Lee will take the role of Timur, the exiled Tartar king.
Soprano Rachelle Gerodias will sing as Liu; Byeong In Park as Ping; Ivan Nery as Pong; Ervin Lumauag as Pang; Nomher Nival as Emperor Altoum; and Greg de Leon as Mandarino.
The members of the Viva Voce Voice Lab and the Tiples de Mandaluyong will make up the ensemble. The dancers will come from Alice Reyes Dance Philippines.
Maestro Valentino Favoino will lead the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra.
Direction is by Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini, with Prince Sisowath Ravivaddhana Monipong as assistant director. Giovanni Pirandello is lighting designer.
For inquiries, contact Lulu Casas at 09175708301; TicketWorld at 8891-9999. —Ed.