Jose Mossesgeld-Santiago was a noted Filipino opera singer. Son of Simon Mossesgeld-Santiago and Rosa Font of San Miguel de Mayumo, Bulacan and Manila.
Jose, fondly known as Pepito, took the road less traveled by choosing classical opera as his vocation and career. He left the Philippines—and law studies— to pursue his dream and brought honor and fame to the family and to the country before World War II.
He sang in opera houses in Italy, South America and the United States. His wide repertoire included a majority of the main operatic roles for bass: Wotan in Die Walküre, Viandante in Siegfried, and roles in Lohengrin, Mignon, Simon Boccanegra, Forza del Destino, La Gioconda, Don Carlos, Faust, Mefistofeles, etc.
He sang for a couple of years in the Roxy Theater in New York. Jose also recorded Filipino songs for Columbia records in the United States.
But his greatest achievement is his performing in one of the world’s most famous opera houses, Teatro alla Scala (or La Scala as it is known), made possible when he won the Enrico Caruso vocal competition in the United States.
The official La Scala publication of the operas and performers of the 1932-33 season describes Jose as follows: “…voice of rare power and beautiful in its entire range …. Magnificent actor…with acute artistic sense and aplomb.” In La Scala, he sang the roles, among others, of Ramfis in Aida and Sparafucile in Rigoletto.
Jose married Dolores Andrada and had a son, Enrico. With Isabel Llewellyn whom he met while pursuing a career in the U.S., Jose had Joseph and Phillip. He had three more children, Mila Santiago, Teresita and Sigfrido, the latter two with Genoveva Perlas.
Afer conquering the world stage, he returned to Manila to teach classical singing while producing operas. He passed away on March 5, 1959.