Born in the Philippines (I think in Manila) probably in 1949, Velasco first
studied mechanics, then business administration (in which he graduated), and eventually voice: having sung in the
university choir, the choir direction had become his first voice teacher, and Velasco went on with it, eventually at the
Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, on a grant by the Marcos government. After graduation from Curtis, he won the
Pavarotti International Voice Competition in 1981.
He had already sung a lot in the Philippines previously, and when US conductor and impresario Sarah Caldwell mounted a
Zauberflöte production in Manila, he was Tamino. And from September 1981 to June 1990, he was a member of the Boston
Opera under Caldwell's direction, and also sang with its touring branch, Opera New England.
In 1985, he made his Opéra-Comique debut as Almaviva (with Patrick Raftery, Suzanne Mentzer, Ruggero Raimondi and
Gabriel Bacquier); he returned to that theater in 1990 for La favorite (with Katherine Ciesinski).
From 1987 to 1991, he was a regular at the Montpellier Festival (Poliuto, Ottavio in Gazzaniga's Don Giovanni, and the title
role in Il pirata), and in the same period, he was principal tenor of the Welsh National Opera, where he sang José,
Rodolfo, Duca and Edgardo. As a guest, he sang in Strasbourg, at an open air festival in Gstaad (Arnold, 1988), and at
Covent Garden (Italienischer Sänger, June 1989, 5 performances).
In 1990, he connected with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, and with the Florida Orchestra. He later lived in
Rhode Island as a voice teacher, appearing with the Florida Orchestra until 2011, and in less-than-famous concert venues
irregularly even into the 2020s.
His operatic roles, other than those already mentioned, included Belmonte, Alfredo, Manrico, Cavaradossi, Elvino, Stiffelio,
Rodolfo in Luisa Miller, Benvenuto Cellini, Dom Sébastien, Beppe, and the Astrologer in Zolotoj petushok/The golden cockerel,
which he sang towards the end of his operatic career in a concert performance with the London Philharmonic under Mstislav
Rostropovich. His specialty were roles with a really high tessitura, but he frankly admitted in a long and interesting 2012
interview that he didn't always do the high notes well, particularly not during a vocal crisis in the middle of his career,
from which he recovered by reducing the number of his performances. He had recovered when singing the Astrologer (necessarily,
the role requires a high E). He also sang the E flat in Lucia di Lammermoor that was written by Puccini but is very rarely
Reference 1: Leslie Holmes: A conversation with Noel Espiritu Velasco, 2 parts, in: Journal of Singing,
January and March 2012; reference
2; reference 3; reference
5; reference 6; reference 6