By Walter Ang
Oct. 25, 2011
Philippine Daily Inquirer
|Myramae Meneses as Maria Clara|
Directed by DUP Artistic Director Alexander Cortez, the production was originally envisioned to be a grand spectacle. However, upon review, Cortez realized that the material is "a very intimate type of romantic opera."
"Tolentino provides a very romantic approach to the story based on the novel of Jose Rizal. Highly political innuendos [in the novel] that are glossed over or not even discussed," says Cortez.
He has decided to use three pianos as accompaniment instead of a full orchestra. Accompanists are Greg Zuniega, Noel de la Rosa and Jourdan Petalver. Sound designer is Jethro Joaquin
"Save for three or four big scenes, the scenes are small, very much focused on the characters. This kind of scaled-down production will show audiences that it's possible to stage opera in a simple manner. What's important is the music, not the grandness of a production."
"When people ask me, 'Why opera?' I always say, 'Why not?'" says Cortez, who's directed Ryan Cayabyab and Fides Cuyuguan Asensio's "Spoliarium" and Lucien Letaba and Bienvenido Lumbera's "Hibik at Himagsik nina Victoria Lactao," among other musicals. "I always advocate original Filipino operas and musicals."
"With this musical, DUP is able to commemorate Rizal's birth sesquicentennial and commemorate in advance de Leon's birth centennial, which will be next year," he says.
Cortez collaborates with Camille Lopez Molina, who handles music supervision and vocal coaching for the cast composed of music veterans and up-and-coming singers.
Elainne Vibal and NAMCYA winner Myramae Meneses alternate as Maria Clara. Antonio Ferrer and Madrid-based Kuya Manzano (nephew of Repertory Philippines' artistic director Baby Barredo) alternate as Crisostomo Ibarra. Frederick Hipol is Elias.
Cynthia Guico plays Tia Isabel. Jonathan Velasco, conductor of Ateneo Chamber Singers, played Padre Damaso in the 1987 staging of this opera at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and reprises the same role. Actors from Dulaang UP complete the cast.
|Frederick Hipol as Elias|
"The inabel cloth was donated by Irene Marcos-Araneta," Cortez says. "We want to showcase these beautiful fabrics that are handwoven on looms. It's a crime that machine-produced cheesecloth (katsa) is more expensive than inabel! We must put more value on these fabrics."
Other collaborators include lighting designer Jon Jon Villareal, choreographer Dexter Santos, video designer Winter David and props designer John Gaerlan.
"Noli Me Tangere: The Opera" runs Nov 16-Dec 4, 2011 (Wednesday to Friday, 7pm; Saturday and Sunday, 10 am and 3pm) at Wilfrido Guerrero Theater, 2/F Palma Hall, University of the Philippines, Quezon City. Contact 0917-750-0107, 981-8500 local 2449, 926-1349 or 433-7840.
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