Monday, November 21, 2016

‘Cosi fan Tutte’ targets millennials

From left: Carlo Mañalac, Carlo Falcis and Roby Malubay

The title of this Italian opera by Mozart means “all women are the same.” Its plot concerns two friends betting about their respective fiancee’s loyalty. When a third friend warns them not to be too trusting for all "women are the same," they test their sweethearts’ loyalties by disguising themselves and wooing their lovers to see who remains true.

The Manila Chamber Orchestra Foundation (MCOF) production on Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. at Ayala Museum stars members of the Viva Voce Ensemble: soprano Anna Migallos as Fiordiligi, soprano Aissa Guilatco as Dorabella, tenor Carlo Mañalac as Ferrando, baritone Carlo Falcis as Guglielmo, mezzo soprano Roxy Aldiosa as Despina and bass baritone Roby Mahusay as Don Alfonso.

The male cast shared that the opera’s setting will have a contemporary feel. Falcis said, “It will be different in a sense that it is more ‘now’. Our characters are living in the present. They’re like yuppies living in the age of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The characters are more adult, not teens. Their relationship problems are real as they are today. But we remain faithful to Mozart’s music, the Italian text and how the story goes.”

Malubay agreed, “This ‘Cosi’ is different because it is in a modern setting. We think millennials can relate to it, especially those with complicated love lives.”

Directed by and under the musical supervision of Camille Lopez Molina, “Cosi fan Tutte” also features recitative parts which Mañalac, 28, a voice graduate of St. Scholastica’s College (SSC), finds challenging. These are what he called “the conversations in the opera. All the while I thought it was easy. A recitative has its own style. It’s another discipline.”

He described his role of Ferrando as a “hyper and energetic guy but a control freak” who finds it hard to let go. He added, “The opera is basically about letting go and having fun. The high tessitura of my role needs a lot of stamina. I don’t know why Mozart does this to his tenors and sopranos! Anyway, I’m working really hard to have that stamina.”

Also an SSC graduate, major in voice, and the oldest among the guys at 35, Falcis said the part of Guglielmo “has been the role I've been doing ever since. But we always have different takes on it. Aside from relearning the songs and adding the recitatives, this Guglielmo is different from the ones I’ve played. He’s more serious and mature, not as playful as before. So I had to pull back a bit from that playful side and become a more adult.”

He continued, “What makes ‘Cosi’ special is the ensemble work—how Mozart married the words with the music and with the characters themselves, how he let lines flow from one character to another with his whole music. I have learned so much on how to be a team player in an ensemble because of ‘Cosi.’”

Malubay, 25, an SSC student taking his second degree in voice, has to strike a balance between his studies and performing professionally. He said, “Studying the opera is a challenge because i did some parts of it before, but now we will add recitatives. Mozart’s work sounds easy, but if you work and perform it, it has big, big obstacles for a singer when it comes to technique and endurance.”

He plays Don Alfonso in his favorite opera. To prepare he has watched different versions of the opera so that he has an idea what the story is about, who Don Alfonso is in the story.

Food and water play a huge part in their pre- and post-performance. Manalac always treats himself to warm soup before going onstage, adding, “I always like performing with a full stomach. I find it easier for me to sing when I’m full. And after performances, anything goes. Usually the group goes out for good food again. We talk about the funny things that happened during the performance.”

Falcis likes some quiet time before the performance “to get my mind and whole being focused on the work at hand and calm down my nerves. Afterwards, we can chill. Chilling takes a lot of forms: eating out, having coffee or ice cream.”

Malubay prefers to just drink water to hydrate his body and vocal folds, practice his lines and keep his mind full of happy and positive vibes. He also exercises.

For tickets, call Ticketworld at tel. no. 891-9999, MCOF, 997-9483, 782-7184 or cell phone nos. 0920-9540053 and 0918-347-3027. --Elizabeth Lolarga

The cast of Cosi fan Tutte

This article was first published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer's Lifestyle section on Nov. 21, 2016.
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