|World-renowned tenor Arthur Espiritu (right) tied the knot with his Guinevere, singer-teacher Christina Bojocan, at the San Agustin Church last 21 December, supposedly the End of the World|
Vim Nadera: What comes to mind you hear the following places?
Arther Espiritu: Milan? My debut at La Scala and the Caprese salad -- mozzarella cheese with tomatoes, basil, olive oil and vinegarette. Paris? Funny enough, the sushi and my trips in the subway or Metro and Champs Elysees. Hongkong? The beef noodles I used to eat at Causeway Bay. Tel Aviv? Hummus. Vienna? Prater Park where you can rent a bike or take a walk on the beautiful gardens, Wiener Schnitzel, Staatsoper. Pittsburg? My friends over at Pittsburgh Opera and my best friends Chuck Unice, Jason Karn, and Daniel Billings. Connecticut? Don Giovanni and an awesome soprano named Pamela Armstrong. Austin? These great mobile restaurants all over town serving all kinds of food from sushi to Mexican food to ice cream etc. I loved the food in Austin. Meeting new friends there and the time that I went on a quick trip to the Alamo. Santa Fe? Santa Fe is a great city and I love going there. Amazing people who are so friendly and most notably, hiking, and mountain climbing around there are awesome. The Gem Market and the food! Again, sorry, all food in my mind.
VN: Could you compare or contrast your recent experience here when you did Verdi's La Traviata and Rossini's Il Barbiere di Seviglia?
AE: I really enjoyed doing La Traviata because it is more close to my own temperaments. Barber of Seville is a comedy and it has a lesson at the end. Vocally, Barber of Seville was more challenging since it is written in a style where the vocalist and his/her abilities are the main focus. The plot is given and you just have the most fun with it. Being able to play different characters in Barber of Seville was so much fun! La Traviata is more serious and deals with real human emotions and more dramatic than the light-hearted Barber of Seville. Musically, they are very different in all aspects. But in comparing the subject of love, jealousy, and the feeling of being abandoned, they are not too far from each other. Only difference is: one is a romantic comedy and the other is a romantic tragedy.
VN: Are Filipinos as members of the audience far different from foreigners?
AE: Hmmm, let me just say that audience participation is what inspires artists. It's the feeling of return and interaction. I have performed in European theaters and they do vary. In Italy, the audiences are very responsive and very loud. They clap and yell bravo if the performance is great... In Austria, the audiences are a bit more subdued. Also in Switzerland, and mainly German speaking countries. I'm not saying that they don't appreciate the art as much as the Italians but they look at live theater like watching a movie. You have to finish the entire show and then clap if you love it. They are subdued because they are more than likely very, very involved in the show. So, clapping after an aria is a given but most of them won't clap until after the show is done.
In Italy, Spain, and mainly France, people are very, very responsive. Except that, in France, you will hear boos if they don't like the show, even if it’s just about the staging, or the stage sets or even conductors. Now, I would compare the Filipino audience to the Italians. They clap and make plenty of noise if they really, really like the performance and maybe clap as well, if the performance is not that good because Pinoys are very compassionate. I had the privilege of singing at the Cultural Center of the Philippines twice now and so far, no boos. Fingers crossed?
VN: Are the Filipinos ready for opera? Why?
AE: I strongly feel that Filipinos have been ready for opera. It's just that no one is performing opera here as much. It's all about the exposure and the continuity of support for this art.
VN: You recently married Christina Bojocan. Is your choice to tie the knot with a Filipina deliberate?
AE: I'm so happy to be married to Christina. My choice to marry Christina was not deliberate at all. It was a whole series of circumstances that led us to each other and I'm so happy to have met her and now married to her. Someone that I can share my life with now and forever.
VN: How would you see yourself 10 years or so from now?
AE: Well, Christina and I are definitely planning on having a family soon. I plan to audition for roles and gigs in the United States and Europe. Also in Asia. Teach private voice lessons? Wherever the Good Lord takes us... Perhaps live in the US in the next two years...
VN: Do you intend to teach?
AE: I have not really started teaching, but I am considering teaching somewhere in Manila.
VN: Or personally train classical singers?
AE: This would probably be my choice is to teach privately. So, anyone who is interested in having lessons privately, let me know. (Laughter.) Shameless plug.
VN: What lessons did you learn from The Poet Speaks last 6 February?
AE: It was my very, very first solo recital in the Philippines. It’s a different recital where it was geared more towards art songs and the mastery of the composer and mainly the poets who wrote them. Some would say that the music I performed was an acquired taste, but I felt that was not the case here. I learned so much from this concert in ways that I cannot just simply understand. That feeling of being able to affect so many people through music and lyrics. The type of emotions that I felt while interpreting the pieces and the feelings that the audience felt during performance. It's like while I was singing, I want to comfort them but, at the same time, I did realize that I'm actually singing. These poems are so strong and it carried with it strong emotions. Music is just simply the best way to express human emotions. It is why I am still singing in the first place.