Tuesday, May 13, 2008



A Filipino Opera

music by Reynaldo T. Paguio

libretto by Fides Cuyugan Asensio

MAYO BISPERAS NG LIWANAG was inspired by "May Day Eve," a short story written by Nick Joaquin, the Philippine National Artist for Literature. `

Mayo ... Bisperas Ng Liwanag' is also an opera of love and hate, sorcery and patriotism. Its main character, Agueda, begins as a rich spoiled girl, well-educated in European literature on revolutions and the Age of Enlightenment.

At a party, she hears the predictions by Anastacia, a fortune teller, that the country will have unrelenting oppression by foreign rulers. Only Agueda responds to Ansastacia's exhortations to give aid to a country in deep distress, by asking her how she might help the country find the light.

They are interrupted, however, the party mood returns and Agueda asks Ansastacia instead who will be her future spouse. Ansastacia promises to tell Agueda this with the May Day mirror ritual.

After being warned by Anastacia that, instead of seeing her future husband reflected in the mirror, she might see the devil, Agueda, nevertheless, decides to participate in the May Day mirror ritual.

A man named Badong has stealthily crept up behind her. When she opens her eyes, she sees him peering over her shoulder. Theirs is to be a stormy relationship.

Agueda and Badong marry, but they cannot stop the prophecy of Anastacia. Agueda's romantic love for Badong yields to her love for the country, and she joins the peasant revolt in the countryside.

Tragically, Agueda meets death, but not before seeing the light that eluded her in life, the light that dispels some of the darkness in the lives of the oppressed.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Clarissa Ocampo, mezzo soprano

Clarissa holds a bachelor of music degree in Voice Performance (cum laude) from the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music in Manila, and a master of music degree from The Juilliard School in New York.

She has studied with noted Opera singers and vocal pedagogues: Maestra Irma Ponce-Enrile Potenciano, Evelyn Mandac, Emmanuel Gregorio, Daniel Ferro, Paul Sperry, Elizabeth Mannion, Mark Goodrich, and Susan Ormont.Clarissa is very excited to perform once again for the Filipino audience after many, many years. To this end, she closed the 2004-2005 Concert Series of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra in the Philippine Premiere of Sir Michael Tippett’s A Child of Our Time under the baton of Maestro Eugene Castillo.

Clarissa has had the pleasure of touring the United States and Canada, once performing Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, and the other as part of the Broadway National Touring Company of The King & I, with Haley Mills, Faith Prince, Marie Osmond, & Maureen McGovern. She appeared in the role of Pitti-Sing in The Mikado at Opera North in New Hampshire. Other roles performed include, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Romeo in I Capuletti ed I Montecchi.

She received a grant to attend the University of California Santa Barbara – Vocal Institute, where she performed in a number of song recitals, and a master class conducted by Metropolitan Opera star, Mignon Dunn. She received a Fellowship grant to attend the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado, and performed in a variety of public concerts, one of which was a world premier of British Composer Michael Torke’s Better a Dish of Herbs. Other performances include The Brilliance of Brahms, an all Brahms concert with renowned soprano Reneé Flemming as the featured artist.

Clarissa has appeared in both live and media broadcasts. She is the recipient of major awards such as the University of Santo Thomas Scholarship Grant, the Young Artist Foundation Scholarship Award, and the Anna Case McKay Scholarship Grant from the Juilliard School. She is also a two-time winner of the National Music Competition for Young Artists, and a winner of the New York Vocal Artists Competition held at Carnegie Hall.

Ramon Acoymo, tenor

Ramon Acoymo has been described by the press on three continents as "mesmerizing" in New York, "successful" in Rottenburg and "remarkable" in Manila.

A first-prize winner of the US National Association of Teachers of Singing Competition, he has released three compact discs in America. His Lincoln Center recital debut was hailed a "triumph" by Headline Philippines, New York; and no less than the New York Times accorded him good notices for his theater debut as the lead in Flower Drum Song.

Among his opera portrayals have been "Canio" in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, "Tamino" and "Monostatos" in Mozart's Die Zauberflote and the title roles in Blake's The Bear with the Hongkong Chamber Orchestra Society, "Oedipus" in Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex and "Pagong" in Philippine National Artist Lucrecia Kasilag's Ang Pagong at ang Matsing, a role which he created.

Janet Sabas Aracama, mezzo soprano

Prof. Janet Sabas Aracama studied at the St. Theresa's College in Quezon City for her elementary and secondary education. She has earned her Bachelor's and Master's degree in Music at the University of the Philippines College of Music as a Choral Conducting major and minor in Voice and Ethnomusicology.

Some of her mentors include, Dean Rey T. Paguio in conducting, Josie Bailen, Fides Asensio and Elmo Makil in Voice. She has started teaching as a lecturer and served the University of the Philippines System through the Conducting and Voice department since 1986. She is Associate Professor III, full time and Chairman of the Conducting Department.

Her first experience on stage was as a dancer of Radaic's Dance Theatre Philippines, and at a young age of 15 was selected to represent the Philippines in the 1975 Aberdeen Youth Festival for the Performing Arts in Aberdeen, Scotland.

She has brought honor to the Conducting Department of the College of Music through her leadership by training College of Music Chorus Classes into a major performing group now sought after by many local and international conductors to perform large works as Beethoven's 9th Symphony, Handel's "Messiah", Orff's "Carmina Burana", Rossini's "Stabat Mater", Stravinsky's "Les Noces" and other major choral works produced by the National Commission in Culture the Arts in cooperation with the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

She was an alto soloist and assistant conductor, one-time choreographer of the UP Concert Chorus from 1976 - 1986, a veteran of six (6) world tours of which they won First, and Third Prizes in international competitions in Spittal, Austria; Polheim, Germany; The Hague, Netherlands, Mainhausen, Germany; Arezzo, Italy; Llangollen, Wales; and Cantonigros, Spain.
As a Vocal Soloist, she has been a regular guest of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and the Las Piñas Bamboo Festival for their concert seasons.

In 1982, she won as "Best Alto Soloist" in the Manila Symphony Society sponsored vocal competition performing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony," Ode To Joy". She is also a versatile singer, performing with ease, a varied repertoire of opera, art songs to broadway, gospel, soul and jazz and Original Pilipino Music (O.P.M.).

Her debut in opera stage was opera chorus in "Tosca" at the Cultural Center of the Philippines with no less than Placido Domingo, Eva Marton and Justino Diaz as leads with the famous San Francisco Opera Chorus and Orchestra conducted by Kurt Adler.

As Vocal Instructor, sought after by the local and foreign music theatre scene as a performer and vocal coach to many famous theatre and pop artists. She has played the roles of Suzuki in Puccini's Madame Butterfly, Katisha in Gilbert Sullivan's Mikado, Bloody Mary in Rogers and Hammerstein's South Pacific and many more.

She has coached and trained many musicals for Repertory Philippines, New Voice Company and Chase's International's tribute to Boublil and Schonberg (composers of Miss Saigon and Les Miserables) concert at the CCP featuring the cast performers of Miss Saigon in London, Germany and Australia.

She was also a Christian Worker serving at the Greenhills Christian Fellowship Worship and Music Ministry as Conductor of the Chancel Choir and Harvest Evangelistic Music Team. She also directs the Learning Treets Children's Choir of the Learning Tree Grade School.

In November 26,1999, she was elected and appointed by the University to be conductor of the famous University of the Philippines Concert Chorus, filling the shoes of the late Dean Rey T. Paguio.

Since then led the UP Concert Chorus with great determination, authority, leadership and with high choral musicianship, bringing honor and pride to the university and our country in their Millennium International Tour 2000 to the USA and Europe and the 15th International Tour "Hinabing Himig", 2003 winning 3 golds at the Mainhausen Choral Competition, Germany and Premio Publicco in Arezzo, Italy.

Andion Fernandez, soprano

Andiòn Fernàndez, the accomplished Spanish-Philippine soprano, was born in Manila.

A soloist of the Deutsche Oper Berlin since 2001, she graduated with honors from the Hochschule der Künste, Berlin, and has studied voice with Karan Armstrong and Ira Hartmann, and contemporary music with Aribert Reimann.

She is a prizewinner of Operalia (Placido Domingo World Opera Contest, Hamburg) and Cardiff Singer of the World. The major international opera houses she has sung in include the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, the Nuremberg Opera, the Gulbenkian Auditorium in Lisbon, the Festwochen Herrenhausen in Hannover, the Schloß Sanssouci in Potsdam, the Kallang Theatre and Victoria Theatre in Singapore, the Festspielhaus in Baden Baden, and the Gran Teatre Liceu in Barcelona.

Among her major roles are Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Niklausse (Les contes d’Hoffmann), Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel), Micaela (Carmen), Fox (The Cunning Little Vixen), and Pamina (Die Zauberflöte). She has worked with many distinguished conductors, including Alberto Zedda, Christian Thielemann, Marcello Viotti, Kent Nagano, Christopher Hogwood, Leopold Hager, and Mikhail Jurowski.

As Agnes in Mikhail Jurowski’s world premiere recording of Emil von Reznicek’s Ritter Blaubart, she received rave reviews. She is married to the composer Jeffrey Ching, and sang the solo part in his Symphony No. 5, "Kunstkammer" at its world premiere under Mikhail Jurowski in March 2006.

Karla Patricia Gutierrez, soprano

Karla attained her Bachelor of Music Degree, Majoring in Voice from the University of the Philippines’ College of Music, under the tutelage of Prof. Fides Cuyugan-Asensio. She pursued further studies in Opera Interpretations with the Accademia Internazionale delle Arti in Rome, Italy under the supervision of Maestra Doris Andrews.

Her Repertory Philippines’ credits include Cosette in “Les Miserables”, Hodel in “Fiddler on the Roof”, Lily in “Secret Garden”, Sophie de Palma in “Master Class”, Julie Jordan in “Carousel”, among many others. She played the role of Cinderella in Rep’s production of “Into the Woods”, later reprising the same role with Singapore Repertory Theater in Singapore. She appeared as Andrea in “Once On This Island” staged at the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts.

Her operatic roles includes, Lucy in “The Telephone”, Micaela in “La Chanson de Carmen”, Hansel in “Hansel and Gretel”, and portrayed the role of Dew Fairy in “Hanzel und Gretel” with the Rome Opera Festival in Italy, under the baton of Maestro Fritz Maraffi. She was the soloist in David Glass’ World-Premiere production of “The Lost Child”.

Karla was part of the entourage of former Pres. Fidel Ramos’ Western Europe Tour, World Economic Forum in Hong Kong and Australia for the Philippine Centennial Celebration. She also performed for the Tourism Week in Taiwan, and in 2003, she was invited to sing for the United Nations in New York.

Karla was a recipient of the New Neutrogena Woman for the Arts for 2002.

She is currently the Artistic and Managing Director of the Philippine Opera Company.

Leodigario del Rosario, tenor

Leodigario Del Rosario is a winner of Cleveland Opera's Belle Morse Award for Young Artists and was engaged by Lyric Opera Cleveland as Don Ramiro LA CENERENTOLA in 1999 and Alfred DIE FLEDERMAUS in 2003.
Del Rosario's engagements last season included Don José in CARMEN with Tacoma Opera, Pinkerton in the Lyric Opera Northwest's production of MADAMA BUTTERFLY and The Duke of Mantua in the Opera Southwest production of RIGOLETTO, which he reprised with the Townsend Opera Players.
His upcoming engagements include Alfredo in Lyric Opera Northwest’s production of LA TRAVIATA this November and Rodolfo in LA BOHEME with the Philippine Opera Company in October 2008. He is soon to return to Seattle Opera mainstage as Gaston LA TRAVIATA and Ruiz IL TROVATORE.
He also sang roles with Cleveland Opera on Tour and on that company's mainstage, as Borsa RIGOLETTO in 2002 and the First Priest/Armored Man DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE in 2003.
As a Seattle Opera Young Artist in 2003, Leodigario del Rosario sang Tamino at several schools in a children's adaptation of THE MAGIC FLUTE. He also sang the role of Ferrando in the Young Artist Production of COSÌ FAN TUTTE. He made his debut with the Seattle Opera mainstage as Nathanael LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN in 2005, and went on to sing Malcolm MACBETH and the 3rd Footman/2nd Waiter in the production of DER ROSENKAVALIER. He also sang the role of Don José in the Lyric Opera Northwest's production of CARMEN in October 2005.
He has sung many other leading roles in his homeland, including Lt BF Pinkerton MADAMA BUTTERFLY, Alfredo LA TRAVIATA, the title role in LES CONTES D'HOFFMAN, Romeo ROMÉO ET JULIETTE, Rinuccio GIANNI SCHICCHI and Gerald LAKME. Concerts and recitals in which Mr. Del Rosario has participated include performances of Beethoven Symphony No. 9 (Springfield Symphony, Ohio), Don José CARMEN (Seattle Symphony Orchestra), and Verdi Requiem, Mozart Requiem and Haydn Mass in D (Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra). He has also performed in Carnegie Hall, the Cadaques Orchestra (Barcelona) and with the Cleveland Orchestra.
Among his teachers, the names George Vassos, Antonio C. Hila and Aristeo Velasco stand out. Furthermore he has worked with some notable directors around the world including Bernard Uzan, Chris Alexander, Jose Maria Condemi, Jonathan Field, David Bamberger, Bodo Igesz and Gary Race.

Raymond Roldan, tenor

Raymond Roldan is a singer, voice teacher, choral conductor and music arranger.
A Bicolano, he was born and raised in Naga City. His elementary studies were at the Naga Parochial School, whose alumni include Sen. Raul Roco, Magsaysay awardee Jesse Robredo and baritone Jonathan Zaens.

At a young age Raymond then wanted to be a priest and entered the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary. After four years he left, studied voice culture and finished a bachelors degree in English at the Colegio de Santa Isabel. It was during this time when he won first place in the National Music Competitions for Young Artists (NAMCYA) at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 1990, and was invited as featured artist in the National Music Festival in Iloilo City in 1991.

After graduation he taught English Literature for a year at the Colegio de Santa Isabel and the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary. When he decided to pursue musical studies at the University of the Philippines College of Music, it was there that he embarked on a colorful musical journey as a singer, teacher and musician. Roldan completed a course in Italian Opera Art offered by the Cursos Internacional de Canto Francisco Viñas in Barcelona, Spain, under the tutelage of famous soprano Magda Olivero.

There he also competed in the prestigious Francisco Viñas International Singing Competition, with more than 200 participants throughout the world, and received positive comments from the Panel of Judges.

This year Roldan was featured in the 2008 WORLD VOICE DAY Medical City celebration concert with soprano Joscephine Gomez and baritone Vladimir Valera. In 2007 Raymond and his wife Jeannelle were featured as the SINGING SWEETHEARTS in the PRELUDIUM concert, together with the Choraliers, Bert Robledo and Dean Raul Sunico. It was the same year that the couple were invited to be part of the ROYAL LONDON CIRCUS as the Singing Ringmaster and the Singing Princess, where they toured parts of Western Malaysia together with their son Giancarl Ray.

From 2002 till 2008 Roldan was voice instructor at WORKSHOPS@ABS-CBN, under the supervision of Beverly Vergel and Johnny Manahan, where he tutored up-and- coming talents of STAR CIRCLE and STAR MAGIC.

In 2006 Raymond and his wife Jeannelle were invited by the Amade Virlaine Foundation to perform in the presence of Prince Andrea Casiraghi of Monaco in his visit to the Philippines. The same year Raymond performed the tenor part in W A Mozart's opera DER SHAUSPIELDIREKTOR as part of the MOZART AT THE MALLS series at the Podium and The Block SM North EDSA together with the UP Symphony Orchestra, and the tenor soloist of the UP College of Music Christmas production of G F Handel's MESSIAH at the Nicanor Abelardo Hall.

In October 2005 Roldan was featured in a solo concert at PACO PARK PRESENTS, where he performed arias from TURANDOT, L'ARLESIANA, L'AMICO FRITZ, LA BOHEME and WEST SIDE STORY. In February 2005 he was featured in the concert AN EVENING WITH FILIPINO TENORS; A MUSICAL TRIBUTE TO NATIONAL ARTIST LEONOR OROSA GOQUINGCO.

In 2004 he was seen with the best in Philippine Music Theatre in the 3rd NATIONAL THEATRE FESTIVAL at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. He is cast as the lead role of Tino in the Filipino zarzuela HIBIK AT HIMAGSIK NINA VICTORIA LAKTAW, written by Lucien Letaba and National Artist Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera.

In 2003 he was chosen to be the tenor soloist of Vaughan Williams work A SERENADE TO MUSIC in the International Gala Night of the 2003 ABERDEEN INTERNATIONAL YOUTH FESTIVAL with the Netherlands Youth Symphony Orchestra and the UP Concert Chorus in Scotland. Roldan debuted his first solo international performance at the World View Festival at Sacramento, California, USA, with the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra as the soloist of National Artist Lucio San Pedro's SA DALAMPASIGAN.

From then on he has worked with various music ensembles in the Philippines, among then the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, the Metro Manila Community Orchestra, the UP Festival Orchestra, the Crosswave Symphony Orchestra and the Velvet Mood Music Ensemble.

Evelyn Mandac, soprano

Evelyn Mandac is the first and, thus far, the only Filipino singer who has performed in the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

From 1970 to 1980, Mandac assumed the feminine lead role (or one of the lead roles) in more than 20 operas staged at the Met, and has appeared in major opera houses not only in the US but also in Europe. Time Magazine once described her as “a specially beautiful singer” after Mandac sang with Marilyn Horne in Handel’s “Rinaldo”.

Her engagements have included international festivals such as England’s Glyndebourne, Austria’s Salzburg and Helburn, Italy’s Ravinia, etc. She has sung the operatic roles of Mimi in Puccini’s "La Boheme," Manon in Massenet’s "Manon," Princess Liu in Puccini’s "Turandot," Micaela in Bizet’s "Carmen," Melisande in Debussy’s "Pelleas et Melisande," Gilda in Verdi’s "Rigoletto," Leila in Bizet’s "Les Pecheures de Perles" and Inez in Meyerbeer’s "L’ Africana. "

Her lighter roles include Lauretta in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi" (which marked her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1975), Zerlina in Mozart’s "Don Giovanni," Anna in Verdi’s "Falstaff," Norina in Donizetti’s "Don Pasquale," Sophie in Strauss’ "Der Zauberflote" and "Le Nozze di Figaro."

Conductors have eagerly accompanied her performances over television. Mandac recorded "Carmina Burana" with Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a performance that was named BEST IN INTERPRETATION by The Stereo Review. She sang in Tchaikovsky’s "Queen of Spades" with the famed Jennie Tourel, with Peter Adler conducting the BSO.

She has also performed with James Levine conducting the Cleveland Symphony, Jan Peerce, Brigit Nilsson, tenor Richard Tucker, Swedish baritone Hakan Hagegard, Placido Domingo, mezzo soprano Marilyn Horne, Shirley Barret, Marion Lippert, and Dame kiri Te Kanawa.

Noel Espiritu Velasco, tenor

International opera singer Noel Espíritu Velasco has been hailed as "one of the Philippines' national treasures."

He is one of three tenors and the only Asian one to win the First Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition.

Noel has sung in opera houses and concert and recital halls all over the world, from Manila to Boston, New York to Vienna, London to Singapore, Beijing to Paris, Rome to Tokyo, Hong Kong to Houston, Yekaterinburg to Prague, Kuwait to Cardiff.

Of note are the Royal Opera at Covent Garden, London Symphony Orchestra, Paris Opéra Comique, Opera Company of Boston, Welsh National Opera, Festival Casals, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Symphony.

A musician par excellence, Noel was known to step in at moment's notice to replace an ailing tenor, as he has done at the Festival International de Radio France in Montpellier, singing the title role of Donizetti's Poliuto; at L'Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome, as tenor soloist in Britten's War Requiem upon the invitation of Rostropovich; at Gstaad's AlpenGala Concerts as Arnoldo in Rossini's Guglielmo Tell; at Opéra de Montpellier as Elvino in Bellini's La Sonnambula.

Aside from winning the Pavarotti International Voice Competition, Noel won First Prize at the Liederkranz Foundation Wagnerian Competition and Second Prize at the New York Oratorio Society Solo Competition, among others. He was Principal Tenor of Sarah Caldwell’s Opera Company of Boston for eight seasons, singing in La Bohème, La Traviata, Don Giovanni, Daughter of the Regiment, Orpheus in the Underworld, Abduction from the Seraglio, Barber of Seville, Magic Flute, Tosca, Turandot, Madama Butterfly, the American premières Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten, Maxwell-Davies’ Taverner, Shchedrin’s Dead Souls, and the world première of DiDomenica’s The Balcony.

He made his European debut in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Hans Graf at Paris’ Opéra Comique, and has sung in Der Rosenkavalier with Jeffrey Tate at London’s Royal Opera at Covent Garden; La Bohéme, Carmen and Lucia di Lammermoor with Charles Mackerras and Rigoletto with Carlo Rizzi at Welsh National Opera; Donizetti’s Poliuto, Gazzaniga’s Don Giovanni and Bellini’s Il Pirata at Festival International de Radio France; Rossini’s Guglielmo Tell at Gstaad’s AlpenGala Concerts, Debussy’s Pélleas et Mélisande with Sarah Caldwell and Ural State Philharmonic (and later Verdi’s Requiem, Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and an Operatic Concert), Bellini’s La Sonnambula with Maurizio Arena at Opéra de Montpellier; Berlioz’ Benvenuto Cellini with Opera Orchestra of New York, the world première of Koering’s La Marche de Radetzsky at Strasbourg’s Opéra du Rhin, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Le Coq d’Or at L’Accademia di Santa Cecilia with Rostropovich, which he reprised with London Symphony Orchestra, and National Symphony Orchestra (at Kennedy Center and Festival Casals).

In many concerts worldwide, Mr. Velasco has sung the Verdi, Mozart and Berlioz Requiems, the Rossini and Dvorák Stabat Maters, Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Magnificat, Beethoven’s Mass in C and Symphony No. 9, Puccini’s Messa di Gloria, Orff’s Carmina Burana and Catulli Carmina, Britten’s War Requiem and Serenade, and Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen.

Among some 200 recitals, he has sung Handel’s Praise of Harmony, Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte, Schumann’s Dichterliebe, Vaughan-William’s Songs of Travel and de Falla’s Siete canciones populares españolas.

Jonathan Zaens, baritone

Jonathan Zaens was born in Naga City to Manuel Zaens and Amelita de la Paz.
A graduate of the Naga Parochial School and the Philippine High School for the Arts, earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Voice, cum laude, at the University of the Philippines under Prof. Andrea O. Veneracion.
In 2000 he finished his studies in Voice/Music Theater at the University of the Arts in Berlin under Prof. Dr. Herbert Brauer.
He won the 7th Sylvia Geszty International Voice Competition and became a finalist to the 13th Back International Competition of the Mendelssohn Voice Competition.
Guest performances led him to the State Opera and Estates Theater in Prague where he sang the Mozart roles of Leporello and Gulielmo. In Berlin he has performed with the Neukollner Opera, Berliner Chamber Opera and the New Opera Stage the role of Dulcamara in Donizetti’s “L’Eliser d’Amore,” “Alidoro in Hasse’s” “La Sorella Amante” and the Abbot in Britten’s “Curlew River.”
As an Oratorio-singer, Jonathan constantly sings the Bass parts of the main Oratorios of Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn und Rossini.
He has given Lied-recitals in Germany, Italy, Sweden, Czech Republic, Costa Rica, USA and the Philippines.
His repertoire also comprises music of the 21st century. At the Salzburg Festival he sang in the world premiere of Stockhausen’s “Dufte-Zeichen” (Scents-Signs).
He also performed other works of Stockhausen, Sciarinno, Zender, Rihm, Eotvos, Piazzola at the Berliner Festival, Schwetzinger Festival, Biennial Festival in Venice and Koblenz Theater. A prizewinner of the 7th Sylvia Geszty International Voice Competition, Zaens is also a finalist at the Bach International Competition and the Mendelssohn Voice Competition.
After finishing his studies in Voice/Music Theater at the University of the Arts in Berlin, he was heard at the Prague State Opera singing the Mozart roles of Leporello and Guglielmo on top of guest appearances in the Berliner Chamber Opera and other opera houses in Germany.

Fides Cuyugan Asensio

Soprano Fides Asensio (née Santos-Cuyugan) was born on August 1, 1931, in Lucena, Philippines. She was the daughter of Jacinta Belza and Dr. Gervasio Santos Cuyugan, the first Philippine government scholar. She began her musical training in 1938 when, after her family moved to Manila, she was enrolled at the Philippine Women's University grade school where she studied piano and music theory.

In 1947, Fides enrolled at the College of Music and Arts, where she studied with Dean Felicing Tirona. Her graduation recital landed her on the front page of the Manila Times, which proclaimed "A star is born". The programme included Zerbinetta's Aria from Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos, an aria which, to this date, has never been sung by another artist in the Philippines. After graduation, she received a scholarship to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia (the first Filipina singer ever admitted). At the Institute, she performed The Telephone and the composer, Gian Carlo Menotti, commented "It's as if I composed this work for her."

After her marriage in 1954 to Manuel D. Asensio, Jr., she returned to Manila (where she would be the reigning coloratura soprano for three decades) and made her professional opera debut as Adele in Die Fledermaus at the Far Eastern University Auditorium. Two years later, she sang the role of Sisa in the world premiere of De Leon's Noli Me Tangere with the Manila Symphony.
Until the late 1960's, Fides Asensio appeared in numerous Filipino operas, including the world premieres of Santos' Mapulang Bituin, Pajaros' Binhi ng Kalayaan, and Kasilag's Dularawan. Her repertoire also included roles from conventional opera, including Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel, Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, Susanna in Il Segreto di Susanna, and Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail.

From 1969-1974, Asensio hosted "Sunday, Sweet Sunday", a one-hour show where she performed in major musical works. It was also around this time that she added two new roles to her repertoire: Violetta in La Traviata and Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro.

In the late 1970's, Asensio began to direct operas for free in Manila since there were very few directors at the time who were interested in opera. During this time, she also wrote the librettos for Kasilag's Larawan Ng Kababaihan: Maskara at Mukha (debuted in 1980) and Feliciano's La Loba Negra (debuted in 1984). Both of these works were staged to great popular and critical acclaim at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila.

In 1986, Fides Asensio formed "The Music Theater Foundation of the Philippines" (MTFP), a non-profit organization dedicated to promote, stage, and give scholarships to young classical performers. Two years later, in 1988, she was appointed Chairman of Voice and Music Theater Department at the U.P. College of Music, a position she held until she retired in 1997. After her retirement, she was granted the title of Professor Emeritus by the U.P. Board of Regents. She continues to teach, and among her students are tenor Salmyeno Malaki (who performs in Los Angeles and San Diego), soprano Andion Fernandez (currently under contract with the Deutsche Staatsoper), and tenor Lemuel Cuento (currently under contract with the Vienna Staatsoper).

In 1989, Asensio began hosting a second television series, "A Little Night of Music." The show is still being produced and she continues to host and perform.

In 1992, Asensio began working on the libretto for Paguio's Mayo... Bisperas ng Liwanag for the Philippine Centennial. The opera, which is based on Nick Joaquin's short story "May Day Eve", had its world premiere at the Camp Aguinaldo Theater in Manila on November 15, 1997. The premiere was a great success and Asensio translated the libretto into English for staging in Aberdeen, Scotland, in April 2000.

On April 15, 1999, Asensio created the role of Grandmother Sakuro in the world premiere of Tamura's The Magic Staff. The performance, which was staged at the Meralco Theater in Manila, may have made history when Fides appeared with her granddaughter, Nicole, who was also appearing in the production.

Although her career has focused mostly on classical theater, Asensio once ventured into film when she appeared (and was nominated for best supporting actress) in the epic "Oro, Plata, Mata."
She is also known for her many outreach programs. She has toured Filipino communities in North America as Julia in the zarzuela Walang Sugat (1979), as Sisa in Noli Me Tangere (1988), as a soloist in Ana Maria (1991), and as a soloist in On Wings of Song (the history of the Philippines) in 1995. In 1998, she appeared as Anastacia in Mayo... Bisperas ng Liwanag in major cities across the U.S.A. It was the first time audiences had seen an unabridged Filipino opera, and it was a great success in the 10 major U.S. cities where it was performed (including Detroit, Chicago, and New York).