Arts & Culture

Jasmin Salvo’s move from karaoke to operatic singing

Soprano Jasmin Salvo has a million dreams going for her.

Soprano Jasmin Salvo started singing pop songs when she was just five. Because she liked singing with the karaoke, her parents enrolled her at a music studio. From there she started joining singing contests.

When it was time to go to college, she decided to study at the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music “without any (classical music) background and without knowing that it’s not about pop singing,” she said. With the help of professors like Lemuel dela Cruz and Najib Ismail, she was able to cross over.

She recalled how “it was hard for me at first. I had no classical background, but they made it easier and fun at the same time. They are my inspiration to develop my talent more.”

Salvo, with pianist Ismail serving as her collaborating artist, is the featured artist in Ayala Museum’s “Youth on Stage” on July 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the museum’s groundfloor on Makati Ave., Makati City.

She will open with Purcell’s “Music for a While” followed by arias of Handel (“V’adoro pupille” and “Piangero la sorte mia”) from Giulio Cesare and “Canciones Classicas Espanolas” by Fernando Obradors, her favorite.

The second half is made up of the art songs of Schubert (“Gretchen am Spinnrade” and “Du bist die Ruh”), Strauss (“Standchen” and “Morgen”) and an aria from I Capuleti e i Montecchi by Bellini (“Oh quante volte”), “Chi’l bel sogno di Doretta” from La Rondine by Puccini and “Mein Herr Marquis” from Die Fliedermaus which she will sing in English.

As a student of tenor De la Cruz, the soprano said the lessons she learned were many chief of

which is to “always be humble and honor the Lord. I should always have a good rest before a performance. He always told me to reserve my voice, but it’s hard for me because I’m talkative. I love talking to my friends before performing to reduce my nervousness. I avoid food or drink that causes acid reflux like coffee, but I love coffee so I just avoid it if there’s a performance. I always vocalize and do some stretching before a performance.”

The songs that suit her now are those for a lyric coloratura soprano. She said, “I want a piece that has challenging dynamics and phrasing. I’m not after the high notes. What I love is if there is a pianissimo in the piece, especially a move from forte to pianissimo.”

At the top of her list of favorite female singers is Maria Callas whom she credits for a wide-ranging voice, bel canto technique and interpretations. Salvo said, “I have learned so much from her thoughts and words of wisdom.”

These quotable words from Callas include:

“When music fails to agree to the ear, to soothe the ear and the heart and the senses, then it has missed its point.”

“To sing is an expression of your being, a being which is becoming.”

“You can learn something from listening to every singer, even the worst singer has something to teach you about the voice.”

Salvo has also learned from viewing Anna Netrebko’s videos.“What I learned from her is to develop your technique; it should always be pointed. That’s how she worked with her beautiful top notes.”

She is amazed by Kiri te Kanawa’s dynamics. “Listening to her helped me with the aria ‘Ch’il bel sogno,’” the Filipino singer said, adding that she also loves the American Joyce Didonato for her interpretations and for being a good teacher.

She considered Korean operatic superstar Sumi Jo one of the best coloraturas. “I love her pianissimo so much. I learned a lot from watching her master classes, especially working with running notes and doing pianissimo in an easier way.”

Salvo likes French-Mexican tenor Rolando Villazon whom she praised for his “vocal ability and quality acting.”

Asked what song defined her, she answered, “It would be ‘A Million Dreams’ from The Greatest Showman. No matter what other people think or say, they won’t stop me from dreaming. I sing because it’s my passion. I sing for the Lord because he gave me this talent. This song inspires me to keep on achieving my dreams.”

She was last seen with soprano Mheco Manlangit and tenor Jan Briane Astom in “The American Songbook” concert series that travelled to four venues: Muntinlupa, Baguio City, Makati and Quezon City. She said, “This was one of the most memorable experiences in my career. I enjoyed it so much. It helped me grow as an artist. We helped each other with the pieces and cared about each other so much. We became like a family.”

Tickets to Youth on Stage are available at Ticketworld (tel. no. 891-9999), Cultural Arts Events Organizer at 0918-3473027 and 782-7164 or email