A Lucia in the making

In the last masterclass of Romanian diva Nelly Miricioiu, one soprano brought the house down with a tough aria from Donizetti’s Linda di Chamonix.

The voice – though not yet in full bloom – is pure gold, the agility way above ordinary and most of all, she can act.

Mheco Manlangit, 24, has the promise of a future Joan Sutherland and true enough, she wants to sing Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in the future.

Mheco Manlangit singing with the festival orchestra in Perugia, Italy. Conductor added killer variations in the Donizetti aria.

By coincidence, her debut concert at the Ayala Museum September 28 with pianist Gabriel Paguirigan ends with Regnava nel silenzio from the same opera.

A few weeks after the masterclass, she brought home the top prize in the voice category of the recently concluded Singapore International Festival of Music Competition.

True enough, she said her dream roles are Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor), Violetta (La Traviata), Queen of the Night (Die Zauberflöte) and Musetta (La Boheme).

Recent vocal exposure is her participation in the music festival in Perugia, Italy where she met other young musicians all over the world.

Considered the largest music festival for young musicians in Italy, Music Fest Perugia (MFP) allowed her to participate in more masterclasses and getting to sing with an orchestra in the culminating concert. The other festival subject is called Lingua e Lyrica which is a series of one masterclass after another.

She narrated: “The masterclasses offered Italian diction with translation courses. In MFP, the highlight was the performance with an orchestra. On the other hand, Lingua e Lyrica focused on the science of singing covering such subjects breathing, voice production, body work and many others.”

In this festival, she noticed Italian teachers are very particular with the details.

. Mheco Manlangit with Maestra Nelly Miricioiu in a masterclass. She learns a lot from every teacher of various persuasions.

She recalled: “Every word, every note, every rest has to mean something. They won't give up until you understand that one thing that they are trying to show you. During Maestra Eva Mei's masterclasses, all my classmates were asked to sing on the wall. I was asked to do the exact thing during Maestra Nelly Miricioiu's masterclass in Manila. The exercise was meant for us to have better breathing. Good thing Maestra Nelly taught that to me earlier so I was the only one in Eva Mei's class who was not asked to do it,”

By her own admission, she started singing only seven years ago. She wanted to be a doctor but she got sick and had to be an outpatient for a year. Then came the doctor’s advice: she can’t take any course with laboratory classes. Suddenly, a pre-med course was out of the picture.

It was when she enrolled at the UST Conservatory of Music that she fell in love with classical music. She was in the company of young singers and pianists who became her friends. “We studied, practiced and survived college together. My teacher, Dr. Eugene delos Santos, taught me how to sing. It was difficult for me at first since I had a hard time with rhythm and intonation but, I had the kindest teacher. He was very strict on me and persistent as well. He made sure I took the voice exam almost every semester and by fifth year, I could finish the voice exams and was preparing for NAMCYA and my recitals,” she shared.

She feels blessed to be coached by Prof. Najib Ismail: “The way he describes music makes everything beautiful. Whenever I dislike an art song or an aria, I would sing it in his Art of Accompaniment class. After the class, all of us in the room fell in love with that song. Sir Najib's words are like beautiful passage to difficult songs. He made the most difficult songs highly appealing,”

She said she learned the killer aria from Linda di Chamonix only two years ago. It was supposed to be part of her junior recital but replaced it with Je veux vivre from Romeo et Juliet.

Mheco Manlangit with pianist Najib Ismail. She bagged the top prize in the voice category of the Singapore music fest.

Needless to say, she feared the difficult runs in the Donizetti aria. “On top of that you have to contend with the high notes and the new variations that the conductor in MFP added. I am not a coloratura originally so the runs were difficult, I almost gave up.

The easy part was internalizing the character. I practically don't have to act when I sing it. In O luce, Linda daydreams about her lover, Carlo. He may not be famous as of that moment, but with his talent he will be one day and she will be called his wife. I don't have a boyfriend, but I do have a crush. I daydream about him all day, every day. I also love sharing his achievements to others and how good of a person he is. For this reason, the interpretation was fun.”

Did the high notes come easy for her?

In the past, it was difficult but my teacher and I had to work hard for them to come out-- and they eventually did!”she replied.

Her September 28 repertoire at Ayala Museum with pianist Gabriel Paguirigan are virtual vocal gems from various composers and they include O had I Jubal's Lyre, Du bist die ruh, Gretchen am Spinnrade, Morgen, Signing, Oras nga labing mangitngit, Hangin, Kundiman ng Langit, Marietta’s Lied, Eccomi in lieta vesta...Oh! quante volte and Regnava nel silenzio.

For tickets, call 782-7164 or 0918-347-3027.

(Photos from the Facebook of Mheco Manlangit)


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