Soprano Camille Lopez Molina
(Following is an article by Pablo Tariman on soprano Camille Lopez Molina who will be performing with tenor Otoniel Gonzaga and Dulce on Dec. 9 at the Philamlife Theatre, 8 p.m.
(For tickets: P3,000 for orchestra seats and P2,000 for loge please call 900-70-23 or 0906-5104-270.)
A couple of weeks from now, soprano Camille Lopez Molina will be Mother Abbess in the Sound of Music mounted by Repertory Philippines and a week later, she will be singing an Andrea Chenier duet with tenor Otoniel Gonzaga at the Philamlife Theater with the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra Orchestra under the baton of Rodel Colmenar.
Although Camille is a mother of two (Beatriz Milagros, 2 and Sofia Isabel, 10 months), she just finds it tough sinking through the part of Mother Abbess in the musical. "She is a lot older, wiser, more spiritual and she is the big boss of the convent," she says. "I’m certainly not young anymore but I’m very far from being wise and spiritual and not fit to be an administrator. Acting is being so I find it really hard to act wise when I feel such an idiot inside sometimes. I’m glad I’m finally finding my way around the role but it’s still a big, big effort.
Another thing, Mother Abbess’s song, Climb Every Mountain, was written in such a low key it’s actually vocally far from being a walk in the park. It’s heavy, it’s sustained and it comes at a time when I’ve been sitting around in the dressing room for more than an
hour doing nothing but letting my voice get cold and waiting for my entrance cue."
In between her Mother Abbess rehearsals, Camille is preparing for the Andrea Chenier duet with Gonzaga.
The duet comes at the end of the Giordano opera when the lovers Andrea Chenier (Gonzaga) and Maddalena de Coigny (Camille) welcome their death by guillotine
after being sentenced by the French revolutionaries. Says she: "The duet is very beautiful, dramatic and vocally demanding the way all verismo operas are.
There are sweeping phrases and high notes galore, thick luscious orchestrations, you name it. Passionate pretty much sums it up. I’m so lucky this opportunity comes to me at a time when I already have some moxy tackling it vocally. I will probably never get to sing this onstage but at least I can say that once in my life, I sang the final duet and did it with no less than the great Otoniel Gonzaga."
The first time Camille heard Gonzaga at the CCP in the early nineties, she was easily floored. "The size, the ring, the power, the expression of the voice, the elegance of phrasing -I couldn’t forget all that. It was a voice for opera, for an orchestra, for a big
hall and it belonged to a Filipino. I truly feel privileged and super excited singing with him because it hasn’t sunk into my brain that I will share the stage with him. It’s still incredible to me that this duet is actually going to happen."
Camille started singing mezzo (middle voice) parts when she was with Prof. Fides Cuyugan Asensio at UP but she reverted to being full soprano when she went to Hong Kong as a scholar of the Academy for Performing Arts. In Vienna, a contralto teacher
assigned her "zwischenfach" (in between) roles like Eboli in Verdi’s Don Carlo and Santuzza in Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana. But after giving birth, her voice became more flexible and open at the top.
"This has allowed me to finally be comfortable singing Ritorna vincitor (from
Verdi’s Aida) and Vissi d’arte (from Puccini’s Tosca) and a big surprise, Nedda (from Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci)."
To her credit, Camille has the "best tutor and coach" she can find and at her own disposal. Her mother is choirmaster and pianist (Dr. Myrna Lopez Ascutia) and she is married to a tenor (Pablo Molina).
Having a singer for a husband she finds an invaluable asset. "At least I have someone who knows me thoroughly as a person and therefore as a singer," she tells the Inquirer.
"His observations and his advice are almost always right and I have learned so much
about singing just from our incessant discussions, analysis and theorizing about vocal technique. It’s like having a coach for free. Which isn’t to say that we’ve never had disagreements – we’ve had a lot – but in the end, I have someone who is at all times
painfully honest and whose opinion I can absolutely trust."
Warming up properly before any kind of singing is a must but sometimes she finds it alarming having to practice everyday.
At this point, she can almost see her husband Pablo shaking his head because he constantly reprimands her about warming up everyday. "But I just hate hearing
myself at home. I feel like such a cow mooing in a meadow."
She says having a mother who is also a musician has also its interesting moments and she keeps them. But being mother and musician in the same field, she confides, it can be really difficult to treat things more objectively. She is sure of one thing though.
"Those moments can be triumphant, exasperating, absolutely fun and totally exhausting but they’ll never be boring and thanks God, my Mom and I share a sense of humor."
On the other hand, she learned the value of commitment from her Mom. "She would always say: if you’re going to do something, you might as well do it the best way you can. There’s no such thing as doing or giving too much."
Camille thinks there are other ways of preserving your voice other than avoiding cold drinks and having a good rest. "The best protection I give my voice is avoiding getting neurotic about my throat. I always try to just relax and bring my sanity and survival
instincts to the fore. I’m a great believer in mind over matter."
Camille Lopez sings Vissi d’arte from Tosca and Vicino a te from Andrea Chenier with Otoniel Gonzaga with the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Rodel Colmenar on Saturday, December 9 at the Philamlife Theater. Soprano Rachelle Gerodias sings the Carmen duet with Gonzaga while singer Dulce will reprise The Prayer with the Filipino tenor. Two-time NAMCYA winner Christopher Oracion plays the Traviata
Concertwaltzer and Carmen Fantasy in between arias.
For free ticket delivery, please call tel. 9007023 or cell 09065104270.