The Tenor

I wrote this article for Rogue Magazine February last year. Click here:

Last week Espiritu was back as Alfredo in Verdi’s opera, “La Traviata.” I missed it but friends who were privileged to watch it said, as usual, he was superb.

He is currently conducting Master Classes at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.For inquiries, please contact the CCP Artist Training Division at 832-1125 loc. 1604-1605.

He will be back to perform in “Barber of Seville” at the CCP very soon.

That is something to watch out for.

Filipino-American tenor Arthur Espiritu’s enthralling performances are proof of the power of simplicity.

It’s beautiful singing that is pure talent and superior technique. It’s no wonder that he made it to the La Scala de Milan, the first Philippine- born tenor to have graced what is considered the hallowed altar of operas.

La Scala never entered Espiritu’s mind when he was growing up in Tanay, Rizal singing Gary Valenciano’s songs.

When he was 14 years old, he and his family migrated to the United States. They settled in New Orleans (his family has relocated to Phoenix, Arizona when hurricane Katrina destroyed their home in Chalmette, Louisiana) and in high school, he won a statewide voice competition which paved the way to his pursuing a course in music at the University of New Orleans. He went on to study at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with the late Richard Miller.

In 2007, he won the Teatro alla Scala Award at the Belvedere International Singing competition in Vienna which opened the door for an audition in La Scala. He got the role of Fernando in “Cosi Fan Tutte.”

The winning has not stopped. In 2009, he won the distinguished George London Award.

The past two years, Espiritu has been based based in Switzerland where he topbilled at Theatre Saint Gallen. Despite a full calendar, he took time to come home to the Philippines to share his talents. His Manila debut in August 2010 was rousing success; music lovers wanted more of him. He came back last Dec 14 for a concert with soprano Rachelle Gerodias, baritone Andrew Fernando and the Manila Symphony Orchestra.

There’s a pristine quality about Espiritu’s singing which could only come from a person unspoiled by trimmings of fame. In a milieu of bloated egos, his level-headedness is admirable.

He said, “Well, it’s really as simple as being yourself. Having a career does not mean your social status has significantly improved. I believe that self preservation and having a good moral fiber are important for an individual.”

He said he can’t understand people who would act differently once they make a name. “It’s like abandoning yourself.”

Success has transformed Espiritu to a global citizen. But he is quick to say, “I embrace my Filipino heritage.”

He has nothing but admiration for Filipinos he meets in different parts of the world. “It’s really an amazing surprise to see how much the Filipino people have to go through to succeed. I’m very proud of that,” he says.

He loves it that Filipinos know how to celebrate life. He said,” The karaokies/magic sing get togethers in parties, the array of food laid out in tables, family, togetherness. You can’t beat that! Truly Pinoy, di ba?”

When Espiritu came home for his Manila debut, he was pleasantly surprised to know that despite the challenges that arts and culture face in a country pre-occupied with improving the economy, classical music is alive.“ People really appreciate this art in Manila. We have so many wonderful, talented artists in Manila. They need more opportunities to be able to succeed.”

He advocates a revival classical music in the country. Not just on TV, he said, but to make it a part of our way of life. It should be taught in schools.”You’ll be surprised at how much their (students) grades would increase,” he said.


The Bachelor Girl says Arthur Espiritu is the John Lloyd Cruz of La Traviata.

Other articles on Arthur Espiritu in this blog:

March 6, 2012 8:36 pm  Tags: ,   Posted in: Arts and Culture

143 Responses

  1. Phil Cruz - March 7, 2012 10:27 am

    Classical music. It is my quiet pond, my murmuring brook and chirping birds in a green forest. It is my balm in this noisy dizzying world.

  2. cha-cha - March 7, 2012 1:10 pm

    I saw “La Traviata”, Ellen, on the second night, with the Filipino cast. Ang galing nila!

  3. erikagrace - March 8, 2012 7:04 am

    What Ellen Tordesillas said in her article was good, its far from political issues and informs the readers about great Filipino talents that we can be proud of. Arthur Espiritu’s down to earth attitude is what our stars should simulate.

  4. Ellen - March 8, 2012 3:14 pm

    Wow, you are lucky!

    The Korean soprano was good. The Korean tenor was okay but I’m sure Arthur Espiritu is better.

  5. tru blue - March 8, 2012 3:55 pm

    Only two positive remarks from the many posters here. #1 post doesn’t count as he’s only alluding to his love for classical music, wink! Me to, love select classicals only but a big CHEERS to Art, more power to you. You are the true Noypi, not the Mga Kalyeng Aso who drew more positive comments here once upon a time.

  6. kofiaza - March 8, 2012 6:48 pm

    This is a very inspiring and impressive feature for such a talented Filipino. I admire Espiritu for being so passionate to his career. There is no argument that he’s gonna inspire each and every aspiring singers here in the country or all over the world once they read this. He also make all Filipinos proud not only by his great talent but also by his kind heart. I also agree to his advocate on reviving classical music in the country not just on television. Two thumbs up for that! :)

  7. Mariel D. - March 8, 2012 8:27 pm

    This article will surely inspire talented Filipinos out there. At least there’s someone in our country who knows something that’s out of the ‘political minds’ picture.’ I just hope that everyone would notice and recognize this article especially of the youth out there, that this is it, he’s the one that they should idolize. Who would have thought that forgetting your old life would means “It’s like abandoning yourself.” Thank you. Ms Ellen Tordesillas for making the spotlight brighter for Arthur Espiritu.

  8. 143D.Rose - March 8, 2012 8:30 pm

    Filipinos should be proud of Arthur Espiritu not just because of his talent but also because of how great person he is. Not that i know him personally, but i can say it because of the things he said that had been quoted in the article.I think one reason why he’s successful right now is because he keeps his feet on the ground.Kudos to that Mr. Espiritu!

  9. Becky - March 8, 2012 8:33 pm

    He looks boyish in that picture.

  10. Becky - March 8, 2012 8:33 pm

    Very good-looking.

  11. Ellen - March 8, 2012 8:38 pm

    Thanks, Mariel D. If you have a Facebook or twitter account, you can post the URL ( of this article in your wall.

  12. Mariel D. - March 8, 2012 8:54 pm

    I will, Ma’am. Besides, it’s worth posting ;)

  13. chi - March 8, 2012 9:15 pm

    What is amazing about tenor Espiritu is that he is deeply rooted, not to say of others who made it globally.

  14. Vincent Jordan - March 8, 2012 9:35 pm

    “Nothing is impossible, if you believe that it is achievable” Arthur Espiritu proves this quotes. he is an admirable person that others should follow. I’m really proud to be Pinoy. thanks to Ms.Ellen Tordesillias for this story. with this article, you opened the eyes of those who are losing hope because of the test.

  15. Ranz Mendoza - March 8, 2012 9:39 pm

    Moving on with several Political Events, this article sets a new idea in writing. Not just for human interest, but rather in appreciation of many of our one of a kind people. This makes us realize that there are more than just politics, we can write something better,something we can respond to as “Finally! Good news”, and something we could actually appreciate greatly, such as this. Showing that there are still persons like Arthur Espiritu, that can serve as an inspiration to many. A well done piece Ms Ellen Tordesillas :)

  16. Geralyn Canamaso - March 8, 2012 9:41 pm

    Once Again Filipino talents proves that they are one of a kind and world class. We are PROUD of you Mr. Alfredo Espiritu for being one of a kind.. I cannot sing the old songs but I’m fan of listening on it (n_n)…But I think right know I will engage 2hrs per day just to listen to the classical music and it’s because of you Alfredo Espiritu and to Ms. Ellen who wrote an article that inspired me to know if what is classical music all about.. like what William Wordsworth said “ Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart”… Ms. Ellen you are a great Writer and continue for doing your best….(n_n)..You inspired me a lot. Thanks and God Bless You!!

  17. nikkialonzo - March 8, 2012 9:51 pm

    This is a “feel good” article. Arthur Espiritu’s story of success is very inspiring and made me more proud of being a Filipino.

  18. @lzZy - March 8, 2012 10:36 pm

    mam Ellen Tordesillas firstly shows another Filipino pride and perseverance, telling to our countrymen that there is a guy named Arthur Espiritu excelling in the field of music, having a worldwide status in the field of music. The article tells that every single one of us Filipinos can become something consciously or not, an article when read can be a light of hope to those wanted to become something, and in the same time it presently defines what a Filipino is.

  19. Naomi Vergara - March 9, 2012 6:53 am

    This is the bright side of our country’s present situation. Our country has been focusing badly on politics and anything that concerns it. This article simply says that there’s really something more in our country. We have great talents and awesome culture that we just have to develop. We are the best if we’ll allow ourselves to be. Heads up Filipinos!
    This is one good article Ms. Tordesillas, that really inspires! :) More power!

  20. ideanm - March 9, 2012 8:03 am

    The article did not only talk about classical music but also how great Filipinos are. This is a proof of our rich culture and tradition-we have this close family ties, simple but very amazing talents, and a strong determination to pursue what we want. This is a reminder that we should look back to classical music which is truly beautiful and ‘friendly’to the ears. Kudos to Ms. Tordesillas for this one fresh and reviving story on classical music.

  21. glad.altamarino - March 9, 2012 9:35 am

    I admire Mr. Espiritu for being a true-blooded-filipino-talented person yet he still remains the same as simple as he is. I guess, our government should focus on finding and improving great talents rather than exposing the worst of us. We have a lot out there. This is a very inspiring article, Ms. Tordesillas. Keep up! :D

  22. Chun Dongyi - March 9, 2012 10:47 am

    When music and Filipino simplicity mix, it creates a good rhythm that feels soothing to the ears. With this article, we realized that aside from Charice and Apl De Ap, and other Pinoy international singers, there’s Arthur Espiritu, a classical music giant, and Filipinos are entering diffent music genres today.

  23. jayjaybrnd - March 9, 2012 11:09 am

    Arthue Espiritu is a real Filipino. Marunong siyang lumingon sa kanyang pinanggalingan at mahal na mahal niya ang ating bansa.
    Thanks Miss Ellen for this wonderful article showing the grandness and real talent Filipinos.

  24. jayjaybrnd - March 9, 2012 11:11 am

    *Arthur Espiritu is a real Filipino*

  25. posh - March 9, 2012 1:00 pm

    Filipino-American tenor Arthur Espiritu is someone to be proud of with his achievement and talents in music, that inspires not only Filipino musicians in the Philippines but also to outstanding industry of music in other countries.

  26. Nico Caspe - March 9, 2012 2:02 pm

    After so many music genres that dominates our world right now, its really good thing to know that a Filipino virtuoso is doing its best to bring back real music. As a classical music enthusiast and a proud pinoy, mr. Espiritu inspires me a lot, by means of talent and perseverance, he finds way to break the Asian barrier in the field of music.
    I hope that many Arthur Espiritu will come and more Ellen Tordesillas to promote them. Please dont let the real music die! :)

  27. Jay Edar - March 9, 2012 3:09 pm

    Arthur Espiritu is a real Filipino. Marunong siyang lumingon sa kanyang pinanggalingan at mahal na mahal niya ang ating bansa. He is an inspiration for Filipino artists out there.
    Thanks Miss Ellen for this wonderful article showing the grandness and real talent Filipinos.

  28. Ellen - March 9, 2012 8:23 pm


  29. Becky - March 10, 2012 7:43 pm

    “There’s a pristine quality about Espiritu’s singing which could only come from a person unspoiled by trimmings of fame. In a milieu of bloated egos, his level-headedness is admirable.”

    Admirable indeed.

  30. Lourence Carale - March 12, 2012 8:35 am

    Arthur Espiritu is one of the musician to be proud of with all of his great achievement.Not only Espiritu inspires Filipino but also your article Ellen motivates Filipino. Because in this article you showed Philippines the bright side of life, great talents and achievements of the Filipinos. This article really inspired me a lot because it’s not only about the bad side of our politics and economy of the country.God bless Ellen. :)

  31. athreanzonum - March 12, 2012 2:13 pm

    Si arthur hindi naman makakailang pilipino dahil marami pilipno na umuusbong sa larangan ng musika.actually hindi lang musika pati sports.

    ang maganda sa mga talent na ito pinagmamalaki nilang pilipino sila

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