OPERA for a Cause: Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi presented by Andorra Lírica for UNICEF
By Cipriano De Guzman Jr, Filipino Baritone It is the Christmas season, and music is being played everywhere in the cold winter air. Atop the Pyrénées, between France and Spain, is the Principality of Andorra (Catalan: Principat d’Andorra), one of the most prosperous microstates in the world with a very rich musical scene and culture. As an opera singer for almost two decades, the author and Roots & Wings country editor for Luxemburg, Cipriano De Guzman Jr. , was very fortunate to be part of a powerhouse cast of singers coming from Georgia, Italy, Cuba, the Philippines, Luxembourg, Madrid, Barcelona, and Andorra in the magnificent opera composed by Giuseppe Verdi titled “Rigoletto.” The opera is presented by Andorra Lírica (Opera d’Andorra) for the benefit of UNICEF and performed in Centre de Congressos d’Andorra la Vella on the 21st of December 2023. This opera was initially the season opener of Andorra Lírica, but the fire in Centre de Congressos Sant Julia de Lloria in November 2022 delayed the project to 2023. I have been privileged to sing for the second time with Andorra Lírica. The first time was in 2022 as Jacques Sincère in the opera “Le Val d’Andorre” by Jacques Fromental Halévy . “La donna è mobile”, “Questa o quella” and “Caro Nome” are some of the most recognizable arias in popular culture, used in several advertisements and movies. “Rigoletto” is an opera in three acts composed by Giuseppe Verdi and libretto by Francesco Maria Piave based on the 1832 play “Le Roi s’amuse” by Victor Hugo . It premiered in Teatro La Fenice in Venice on the 11th of March in 1851. The opera was presented in a full version under the musical direction of Italian conductor maestro Ricardo Serenelli , who played the piano reduction on a Steinway full-grand piano and scene director Álvaro Siddartha Cabell . The enthusiastic participation of Esbart Laurèdia added layers and colors to the opera with their graceful and beautiful dances. The poster was painted by Jonaina Salvador , who played the lead role Gilda and who also happens to be the founder, artistic and overall director of Andorra Lírica (Opera d’Andorra). Her magnificent vocal technique with very agile coloraturas and soaring top notes amazed the audience as she delivered the very delicate aria "Gualtier Maldè... Caro nome" in Act 1. Likewise, the Cuban Tenor Andrés Sánchez Joglar received a thunder of applause after singing the famous aria by the Duca of Mantua “La donna è mobile”. The rich and powerful voice of Georgian Baritone Otar Nakashidze echoed like thunder in the hall and his dramatic prowess moved the hearts of the audience when he sang the aria “Cortigiani, vil razza dannata”. The third act captured the attention of the audience as the velvety voice of Catalan Mezzo-Soprano Claudina Vallès , who played 3 roles in the opera (Maddalena, Giovanna and Contessa di Ceprano), the rich, resonant voice of bass-baritone Vicente Martínez (who also played two roles; Sparafucile and Monterone) added flavor and layers of drama to the opera. Competing the powerhouse cast are Luxembourg-based Filipino Baritone Cipriano de Guzmán Jr. as Marullo, Sicilian tenor Francesco Cipri as Borsa, Daniel Gonzáles Polo as Ceprano, Jordi Ferrer as Sergeant, the angelic child Mercè Copons as the page with the beautiful tenor voices of Xavier Tomàs and Ángel Treviño in the chorus.