Prof. Alegria O. Ferrer of U.P. Diliman Directs an Opera in Italy

By Camilla Tassi


On August 3rd and August 5th, in the Italian city of Arezzo, full productions of Handel's opera "Serse" were presented in the historic Piazza della Badia. The opera was staged as a site-specific work by Alegria Ferrer for the 2017 Arezzo Opera Festival, organized by Oberlin Conservatory through the program Oberlin in Italy.



The program aims to train young opera singers, and the cast included artists that had yet to begin university studies, as well as more experienced performers. Danielle Orlando, principal opera coach at the Curtis Institute of Music commented that 'individual characters emerged and were defined by careful thought and work, not just singing. This impressed me, as many of the singers were inexperienced and they also had to be able to overcome the challenges of singing outside and coordinate with a conductor and chamber orchestra.' In regards to the August 5th performance, she noted that 'the second performance was even stronger, which is another proof of the commitment and involvement of all who were part of the production. Bravi!'



Handel's Serse was brought to life with a focus on Persia and its culture, with beautiful costumes designed by Jane Scott.  New York stage director Isabel Milenski commented on the production as being 'elegant, eloquent' and with the singers 'beautifully engaged in the drama'.


The Serse production team included artistic director Daune Mahy, conductor Mürsel Yavuz, stage director Alegria Ferrer, assistant director and stage manager Camilla Tassi, costume designer Jane Scott, properties master Luke D'Alessandro, light designer Christian Landos, pianist Elenora Pertz, musical supervisor Kevin Class, and production manager Scott Skiba.



Camila Tassi, assistant to the director, noted that 'it was a privilege to assist Alegria in the production and observe her process. Baroque music can appear distant and superficial to the average listener. It's very much the opposite, but it is not trivial to access it, you really have to bring conviction and raw truth to each character and emotion - every single singer was able to reach that level of honesty through this production'.


Alegria Ferrer is now directing a Philippine production of Handel's Serse: "Xerxes e Romilda" to be presented on October 6, 2017 at the GT Toyota Theater, Asian Center, at the University of the Philippines' Diliman campus.