UST, Israeli receptions / Tenor Al pursues a dream
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - May 25, 2014 - 12:00am

Much to my regret, I unavoidably  missed the Fulbright reception hosted by the Phil-Am Educational Foundation Board and the personable, engaging US Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg.

Through the years, countless beneficiaries of the Foundation have become eminent academicians, scientists, leaders and statesmen of our country.

Being a beneficiary, I should have been at the reception: a fellowship from Radcliffe College and a Fulbright travel grant enabled me to pursue further studies at Harvard University.

I likewise regret missing Israeli’s National Day celebration hosted by Ambassador and Mrs. Menashe Bar-On. On that night, a musical artist was presented, and it should be added that Israel always sends excellent performers here.

*   *   *

The leaflets had this rather misleading title: “Al Gatmaitan in Pursuit of a Dream”. Was he to sing at all? Or was he to be the principal featured artist as he turned out to be in the concert? The other singers were performing to enable Al to attend the NY U. Steinhardt School, Music and Performing Arts Professions Summer Program.

The Opera Haus stage was very small but exquisitely decorated. Tenor Al began singing, in a profoundly expressive, subtly artistic manner, the aria Una furtiva lagrima (a furtive tear) from Donezetti’s E’Lisir D’Amore. It was followed by another aria and kundimans, among them Pakiusap and Nasaan Ka Irog, if I recall correctly, the selections not being in the printed program.

The assisting artists identified neither themselves nor their songs. As listed, the performers were sopranos Gabri Panlilio, Janine Santos and Karla Gutierrez, mezzo soprano Clarissa Ocampo, tenor Nazer Salcedo, baritone Lawrence Jatayna and stage-screen actress-singer Ayen Munji-Laurel. Arias, kundimans and Broadway hits were interpreted with polish and technical skill.

Gatmaitan sang with a brilliant, rich, luminous, ringing timber, the volume considerably increasing in the top notes which were marvelously sustained. When he, tenor Salcedo and baritone Jatayna rendered a trio, their sonorous voices rang with admirable resonance.

The sopranos’ pant suits diminished the feminine quality of their performance; e.g., when one of them engaged in ballroom dancing with Gatmaitan, they appeared like two men linking arms.

Assisting artist Karl Estudillo played on a sub-standard piano.

In sum, the concert was highly entertaining and often enthralling, made so by a lively, spirited cast. In response to the thunderous applause, Gatmaitan sang two striking encores. Good-looking but not very tall, he may encounter problems with towering opera singers abroad but will presumably fare exceedingly well in solo concerts and recitals.

More or less the same cast, led by Al, presented a new program on May 23, with celebrated pianist Raul Sunico enhancing it.

AL GATMAITAN AMBASSADOR PHILIP S AYEN MUNJI-LAUREL CLARISSA OCAMPO FULBRIGHT GABRI PANLILIO GATMAITAN HARVARD UNIVERSITY JANINE SANTOS AND KARLA GUTIERREZ KARL ESTUDILLO
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