Arts & Culture

Singing in time of the pandemic

Soprano Jasmin Salvo in an online recital.

Soprano Jasmin Salvo in an online recital.

On this virtual recital, soprano Jasmin Salvo appeared stunning in yellow gown framing her petite figure.

It was a most challenging recital program that needed great focus and a lot of silence to convey the essence of the songs.

When she opened with Bach’s Bist du bei mir, she transported her listeners into another world with collaborating artist Reynaldo Gendrano putting the finishing touches of sound.

Rounding up the first bouquet of songs with Handel’s Oh! had I Jubals Lyre and Care Selve (from Atalanta) and the very expressive Sposa son disprezzata by Vivaldi, Salvo was off to a very discriminating start.

With the voice properly warmed, the Mozart aria, Biancheggia in mar lo scoglio, registered clear as a bell.

Moreover, Turina’s Cantares had a dramatic ending, Delibes’ Les Filles de Cadiz had sensual accents turned in with good phrasing.

Ending with Levi Celerio and Ravina’s Kulasisi, the recital capped another good chapter in the singing life of the young soprano.

But the recital itself was plagued with technical challenges typical of online concerts dependent on good internet connection.

But she had to focus even as she admitted she cried on the day of the recital trying to fix technical problems.

On top of that, she had to perform without a live audience. “Honestly, I felt sad because I won’t be able to perform with an audience. We had to revise our original plans to suit the health protocols. Originally, we had a chamber orchestra in mind and a duet with an oboe. Sadly, we have to cancel original plans because of the inconveniences brought about by the pandemic.”

Then it just occurred to her that singing online can be frustrating because of the country’s poor internet connections. “I cannot even see my audience which is very important for a performer. But I have to look on the brighter side and make the best out of the situation. She had a graduation to look forward to.”

A prizewinner of an international voice competition in Singapore (non-professional category), Salvo has logged enough live performances before the pandemic.

Jasmin Salvo as opera singer in M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang.

Jasmin Salvo as opera singer in M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang.

She was the opera singer in the hit play, M. Butterfly by David Hwang and she was one of those who closed the acclaimed concert series at the Nelly Garden in Iloilo.

Shortly after that concert, cases of Covid-19 started making news.

After singing in an awards night early in February, she had to cope with cancelled engagements.

Then she had to make do with online lessons. “It was really frustrating for me and my teacher (Prof. Lemuel de la Cruz). Sometimes we can’t hear each other properly coping with a lot of problems with internet connection. We just had to be patient. I resort to recording my singing for my teacher for comment and suggestions.”

Preparing for a recital is a labor of love and a lot of dedication is involved.

But then she had to part with good plans in favor of what will work in time of the pandemic.

Jasmin Salvo at Nelly Garden in Iloilo City with tenor Nomher Nival, clarinetist Andrew Constantino and pianist Gabriel Paguirigan.

Jasmin Salvo at Nelly Garden in Iloilo City with tenor Nomher Nival, clarinetist Andrew Constantino and pianist Gabriel Paguirigan.

The year 2020 was the year she had to cope with online lessons on top of doing alternative online engagements. “It was on the whole very frustrating with a lot of struggles involved. It also tested my patience and faith in the Lord.”

The year also taught her a lot of good things not necessarily connected with singing. “It tested my patience and made me appreciate the little things that I have. It is nice to know you have the support of friends and teachers. The things I often overlooked now I am able to see with clear eyes. I bonded with my family on top of hurdling preparations for a pandemic recital.”

For her, there is more to be done. “I want to know more about music. I wanted to grow and learn more about singing. I know it is not enough you can go on stage and perform well. My teacher (Lemuel de la Cruz) was a lot of help even without the face-to-face lessons. He was almost like a father to me. I took care of my voice as I know I really needed a lot of stamina to prepare for my running notes. With God’s grace, we made it.”