Wednesday, May 7, 2008

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.

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