Marielle Tuason’s moment in time

Coloratura soprano Marielle Tuason

In a recital, it is tempting to go by what is popular and familiar to the audience. But not

coloratura soprano Marielle Tuason who opted for Impressionist songs or chansons, as they’re called, which are hardly heard here, for her recital which was the finale of the summer concert series at the Steinway Boutique at the Shangri-La Plaza in Mandaluyong City July 13.

As she put it, “I chose this repertoire because it is hardly performed here. I wanted to give the audience a taste of something different. My teacher, (international ternor) Arthur Espiritu, recommended that I sing works by female composers. That’s how I came to the decision to sing works by Clara Schumann and Eva dell’Acqua.”

Sensitively accompanied by Gabriel Paguirigan, she opened with Rossini’s “La Promesa” whose Italian lyrics had a facing English translation in the program. A love song, it spoke of the besotted’s near desperation as the object of affection seems to distance himself:

That I will ever be able

To stop loving you

No, don’t believe it,

Dear eyes!

Not even to joke

Would I deceive you about this.

You alone

Are my spark,

And you will be,

Dear eyes,

My beautiful fire

As long as I live, ah!

Tuason with her proud parents

Tuason, who turned 27 on the day of the recital, said she had about a month to prepare for the event that included “most of the music I’ve already studied before so it was a matter of reviewing and taking it in a different approach. The ones I studied from scratch were the pieces from Strauss (Grossmachtige Prinzessin from the opera Ariadne Auf Naxos) and Schumann (“Ich Stand in Dunkein Tranen” and “Lorelei”).”

In the Strauss aria, there are strong flavors of feminism. The character Zerbinetta, according to the program notes, “decides to try once more to overcome Ariadne’s despair. She speaks with her directly, saying that a woman must take responsibility for her own life and cannot be expected to remain faithful to one man for her entire life. Gaily and quite floridly, she describes her romantic adventures, going through lists of names of men she enjoyed and how she let them seduce her.”

It is considered one of the most difficult, if not THE most difficult, arias ever composed.The German lyrics and their English translation alone run to two pages already. Tuason said, “Zerbinetta’s aria is actually one of the most challenging arias I’ve ever sung. It is indeed a very long aria. Its tonality gets pretty tricky in the middle. Nevertheless, I think it was still a very fun aria to sing.”

Some of the lines go in the translation:

Even when I feel like I belong only to one man

And am so sure of myself,

A naughty feeling infects my heart,

The sense of a new freedom,

Of a new, stolen love.

I am truthful yet all is a lie,

I stay faithful but yet I am bad.

You measure everything with the wrong

Standards and half consciously, half in a

Trance, in the end, I deceive him and yet I

Still love him. Even when I feel like I

Belong only to one man

And am so sure of myself, a naughty

Feeling infects my heart, the sense of a new

Freedom, of a new, stolen love.

Pianist Gabriel Paguirigan and Tuason relaxing after rehearsals at Steinway Boutique

The program concluded with two kundiman by Jose Estrella: “Malungkot ang Maya” and “Ang Maya”. In the first slow piece, Tuason was mournful in voice and demeanor. In the second catchy one, she was more upbeat.

Dressed in a simply cut cream-colored gown that she got off the rack at Rustan’s, the soprano obliged the clamorous audience with two encores: “Ah non credea” by Bellini from his opera La Sonnambula and the heart-stopping Queen of the Night aria, “Der Hölle Rache,” by Mozart from his opera The Magic Flute.

To care for her voice, Tuason makes sure she gets enough sleep and takes vitamins every day. When preparing for a performance, she also watches her diet to avoid acid reflux. She explained, “I have pretty bad allergies so I avoid food and other things I’m allergic to. If I don’t, then I’ll have a battle with my phlegm. Practicing and vocalizing every day also goes a long way in keeping the singing voice healthy. Most of all, the best way for me to care for my voice is to just really avoid stress and have adequate rest.”

Despite these precautionary measures, this graduate of the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music confessed to having a sweet tooth. “Sweets are my weakness. That’s why I try to avoid them before a performance. Gabby and I love food. And also love talking about food!”

The Steinway Boutique and the Cultural Arts Events Organizer should be commended for producing a recital like Tuason’s at the showroom inside the Shang’s East Wing. It is another gesture of bringing so-called high art to where the people are. In this case, venue is all!#


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