I’ve had a pretty amazing week in terms of culture and the arts. For some reason, I got to see four live wonderful shows in 9 days. It started with Disney Live, then Pinocchio the next day, then Shrek The Musical — all with the kids. Then last night my friend Katherine and I watched Noli Me Tangere The Opera. Oh in between those shows, Patrick and I watched Lav Diaz’s four and a half hour long Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan which I raved about in Instagram.
NOLI ME TANGERE, THE OPERA
Music by Felipe De Leon (National Artist)
Libretto by Guillermo Tolentino (National Artist)
Noli Me Tangere is the Philippines’ first full-length Filipino opera composed in 1957 by two National Artists Felipe Padilla de Leon and Guillermo Tolentino based on Dr. Jose Rizal’s novel. De Leon composed the music and Tolentino created the libretto.
The musical presentation, an opera in three acts, follows the story of Juan Crisostomo Ibarra, who returns to the Philippines after pursuing scholarly studies in Europe. He plans to open up a school and marry Maria Clara, his betrothed. However, parish priest Padre Damaso, the archenemy of the Ibarras, is out to hinder Crisostomo’s plans, which creates “a dramatic storyline of forbidden love, betrayal and revenge. Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) depicts the abuses suffered by the native Indios at the hands of Spanish tyrants. The opera paints us a clear picture of the so called “social cancer” that illustrates the rotten system of governance, the illicit ways of the church and the unfavorable trade of the privilege class.
The stage design was beautiful. Maestro Rodel Colmenar and the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra were amazing. Do not worry about not understanding the songs (in Filipino), they provide English translation on screen.
My friend Katherine Cheng (designer of K&Company, the dress I’m wearing) and I with the producers of Noli Me Tangere The Opera, NY-based Jerry Sibal & Edwin Josue. They approached me at the lobby before the show. Turns out they were loyal viewers of Urban Zone. Nice. Jerry is a well-known floral end event designer in New York.
The staging of Noli Me Tangere The Opera locally at Resorts World’s Newport Theatre was the brain child of Loida Nicolas Lewis (in black with floral details), Edwin Josue and Jerry Sibal. This opera first premiered in 1957. It was only restaged in 1987 at the CCP and never heard about until now. Mrs Lewis and the producers restaged it at New York’s Lincoln Centre late last year, and just a few months ago at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC.
I was so moved by the performance of Antoni Mendezona as Sisa. I’ve seen a few interpretations of Sisa which usually involves screaming and capitalizing on her mental breakdown. But hearing her express her pain as a suffering mother through opera songs was a mind-blowing experience. It was my first time to hear Sal Malaki perform. And wow, all I can say is his voice truly is a gift from God. Rachelle Gerodias was her perfect self. I’ve had the privilege of working with her twice — once at the launch of MDF Italia at Studio Dimensione, and the next was a couple of weeks ago when I hosted the Bank of Singapore’s preview gala for Salcedo Auctions.
I highly recommend Noli Me Tangere, The Opera. They are only showing until September 28th. Even if you were not a fan of Noli back in high school or if you think opera is just for the highbrow, try watching this beautiful all-Filipino opera. It’s a feast for the senses. If you can, bring your high school-level kids. It may even help them appreciate the story in class.
For tickets to Noli Me Tangere, The Opera click here.
SHREK THE MUSICAL
I took the kids to watch the press preview of Atlantis Production’s Shrek The Musical last Thursday night (before typhoon Mario struck). It was a school night but we all agreed to take the risk of staying up past bedtime. The kids and I were guests of MAC Cosmetics and they gave us access to the makeup room backstage. The kids got to see a demo of how Fiona was turned green.
As the title suggests, Shrek The Musical is a stage adaptation of the Oscar-winning DreamWorks animated film Shrek. Just like the movie, Shrek The Musical has quirky twists on old familiar fairytales. This production is family-friendly. All three daughters – Sophia, Lily and Stella – loved it. They say it’s their favourite of all the shows. It was hilarious.
The casting, costumes and set design were fantastic. Congratulations to the director, Bobby Garcia. I was floored by the performance of Nyoy Volante as Donkey. He was so funny and really sounded like Donkey aka Eddie Murphy. Rycharde Everley, a British actor, played Shrek convincingly. Jett Pangan as Lord Farquaad was excellent.
Shrek The Musical is great fun for kids of all ages. Stella couldn’t stop talking about the funniest parts. And I had forgotten how beautiful Meralco Theater was. I’m so glad the owners are good at maintaining buildings. I performed my ballet recital here a gazillion years ago.
According to Myrene, it can take as little as five minutes to green Princess Fiona’s face once the basic foundation, eyes and lips are already done. But watch out for some pretty amazing special effects on stage. You’ll witness Princess Fiona transform in less than two minutes. I don’t know how they did it.
If you are looking for a fun musical this season, this is it. Bring your kids. I guarantee they will love it. For tickets to Shrek The Musical by Atlantis Productions, click here. Show ends October 12, 2014.
Every year, the past nine years, I’ve been taking the kids to see a kid-friendly Repertory Philippines musical. I give credit to the preschool teachers of my kids. They are loyal supporters of REP.
This year’s production of Pinocchio is so beautifully presented. We all know the story of a wooden puppet who wants to become a real boy. And that of Geppetto, the kind and generous toymaker. The afternoon we watched, our Geppetto was Miguel Faustmann.
If you haven’t yet, you must bring your young children to one of REP’s productions for young audiences. Not only is it a great way to get your kids used to theatre etiquette at a young age, the colourful scenes, songs and dances will stay with them for a long time. (All stage photos are courtesy of Repertory Philippines. We can’t take photos while the show is ongoing).
Repertory Philippines’ Pinocchio is playing at Onstage Theatre, 2nd Floor of Greenbelt 1 Makati until December 14, 2014. Bring your kids to this one. They will love it. You will love it. For tickets, click here.
DISNEY LIVE: THREE CLASSIC FAIRY TALES
Disney Live stayed true to form with spectacular costumes and stage design at the enormous MOA Arena. The singing, of course, was not live. But all the Disney princess fans in this family loved the show.
Disney Live was on a special 3-day run last September 12 to 14th. Watch out for more Disney productions as Christmas time rolls in.
NOTE: I do not have a professional relationship with any of the producers of the four shows. I did not and will not get any commission from ticket sales. I paid for my tickets for Noli Me Tangere and Repertory Philippines’ Pinnochio. For Shrek The Musical, we got free tickets from MAC Cosmetics. For Disney Live, we were given free tickets as part of the online promo they had.