Vissi d'arte

from lullaby to requiem

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The tale of Turandot

In 1919, Giacomo Puccini - the great Italian composer of verisimo (true-life) operas - was struck with a different form of inspiration. He wanted to try something new for his operas - a fairytale: but, because he was Puccini, he needed a fairytale that included drama, fantasy, and an exotic setting. So he set to work with libbretist Renato Simoni, who took it upon himself to search through another writer's works. That writer was the playwright Carlo Gozzi, who had written at least ten fiabe drammatiche, dramatic fables. One of these fables was that of the Chinese ice-princess, Turandotte (read: tu-ran-dot). So with the help of Guiseppe Adami, Simoni got to work cutting through Gozzi's five-act Turandotte and coming up with more simple characters and plotlines, in three acts.
The librettists got their work cut out for them, though. Puccini was adamant and demanding. Simoni and Adami had to make several revisions before Puccini could accept any of their work. Puccini wanted his Turandot to be something very different, yet also very distinctly Puccini. Sadly, the composer died in 1924, leaving only notes for the two last, unfinished scenes of the opera, which was then taken up by Franco Alfano, a student of Puccini's. And with the help of Puccini's notes, Alfano was able to debut Puccini's Turandot in 1926, under the baton of Arturo Toscanini, who ended the opera (on its debut) abruptly at the point where Puccini had stopped and Alfano began (in honour of Puccini's death). The next night, Turandot returned, this time with the proper Alfano ending.
Turandot is the story of an ancient Chinese Princess and her unyielding hatred for men. (Sounds quite like me when I was in high school) As I was saying, Puccini wanted to try something new and exotic, so he chose this story as his vehicle. Its elaborate orchestrations echo the even more elaborate sets and costumes of the cast. I've seen pictures and a documentary about the staging of this opera (for the first time) in China, inside the Forbidden Palace, and I've seen other Turandot sets, and NONE of them are simple. All of them are overly decorated, very Chinese, and very elegant.
The opera opens with a Mandarin officer announcing Principessa Turandot's latest victim: the Prince of Persia (no, not the video game!). In the streets, the uknown Prince wanders about, until he sees an old man and a slave girl being trampled by a crowd of people eager to see the execution of the Persian Prince. The unknown Prince then recognizes the old man as King Timur, his father - the dethroned King of Tartar (not the one you get if you don't brush your teeth!), accompanied by the servant-girl Liu (not Lucy!).
The people grow weary and they demand for the blood of the Prince of Persia - who will be executed, under Turandot's command, at the first light of the moon. The Prince's only crime, really, is that he had been foolish enough to court La Principessa Turandot, and seek her hand in marriage. Many others had come before him, and all of them had been killed because Turandot, being the most beautiful princess in the world (!!!), has decreed that she will only marry a man of royal blood who is able to answer three of her riddles correctly. If they don't get the answer though, they get their heads chopped off. Sounds like a pretty fair trade, doesn't it? (Bakit kaya hindi sila winarla ng ibang mga royal families, e dined ni lola Turandot ang mga royal Princes. Imagine kung si Prince William yun, e di sinugod sya ng mga madlang chickas!)
When the Prince of Persia is brought out, everyone sees how young and beautiful his face is. Moved with pity, the entire populace (including Lui, Timur, and the unknown Prince) cry and beg for Turandot to be merciful and spare the boy-prince's life. She, of course, doesn't waver. The Mandarin strikes, and he later appears with the Persian's severed head (ooohhhh, parang Salome!). The crowd is outraged, but everyone feared Turandot.
Turandot appears at her balcony, and the people all prostrate themselves begging her mercy. Cursing the Princess, the unknown Prince remains standing and sees Turandot. He is instantly smitten, and resolves to win Turandot for his own. Timur asks his son to keep away from the Princess, and Turandot's advisers (Ping, Pong, and Pang) all advice the same. The Prince, however, is not swayed. Liu then begs the Prince not to gamble with his life - for she is deeply in love with him, ever since that day when he smiled at her while they were at the Tartar Palace. The Prince is still unconvinced, and he rushes to the Palace to ring the gong and summon Turandot.
She appears before the entire populace, dressed gloriously in gold, and addresses the crowd and the unknown Prince with a little story... Once, not very long ago, in this Palace, a beautiful maiden lived - Principessa Luo-ling. But one day, with much trembling, uproar, noise, and whatnot, soldiers arrived - men who had invaded the country, had snuck into the Palace. One of them dragged Luo-ling away, and in a corner, he stifled her voice... Luo-ling turns out be Turandot's ancestor, and now she has been reborn as Turandot - and her anger against men has grown greatly.
So Turandot warns Calaf not to tempt the fates, because many other had tried to win her, but no one has ever succeeded. But the Prince still wants to try... So Turandot gives him her first riddle.
What is it that is like a phantom that is born each night, but dies every dawn only to be reborn in all the hearts of the people?
The Prince thinks awhile... then he answers: Turandot, it is Hope!
He is right, and Turandot pushes on...
What is it that is red like fire but does not burn; it rises with fever and passion, and grows cold if you lose heart or die?
The Prince thinks for a longer moment... Blood! Again, he is right. Turandot is unfazed, but orders the guards to smite the people who had been cheering the Prince on. (No coaching!!! YOU DIE!!!)
What is it that is cold as ice, but burns hotter than flame; if you take it is turns you into a slave, if it accepts you as a slave, it makes you a King?
The Prince thinks for the longest time.. and then exclaims his victory... My fire shall thaw you - TURANDOT!!!
The people are ecstatic. The Prince has answered all the riddles correctly, and claims Turandot for himself. But Turandot pleads with her father, the Emperor Altoum, not to give her away like a slave-girl, defeated and shamed. But the emperor decrees that she should stick with her oath. So the Prince bargains with her - no one in the Kingdom knows his name, and if Turandot discovers it, he shall gladly give up his life for her.
So Turandot commands all the people in the Kingdom not to sleep - Nessun Dorma!! - until they discover the stranger's name. If they do not discover the Prince's name by daybreak, Turandot will have all of the townspeople killed. So, desperate, they offer Turandot the slave-girl Liu and Timur. The soldiers take Timur in and he is confronted by Turandot, wearing a veil (to shield her eyebagged beauty, no one sleeps remember?). But Liu immediately intercedes - "Only I know the name of the Prince!"
And so, Turandot has Liu tortured infront of all the people. She, however, remains faithful to the Prince. Turandot asks her the source of her strength and Liu explains to her that she has been in love with the Prince since he smiled at her at the Palace in Tartar. Turandot is slightly shaken by this revelation...
Nevertheless, the torture works and Liu can bear no more. But instead of giving Turandot the Prince's name, she pulls a dagger off one of the guards and stabs herself. Turandot is now greatly affected, and after the people carry off Liu's body for a proper burial, Turandot is left with the Prince.
The Prince calls her angrily the Princess of Death, the Princess of Ice. He runs to her, holds her in his hands and tears off the veil which protected her face. The Prince tries to kiss Turandot, but she resists him saying that she is no mere mortal - that to love her, the Prince must be a heavenly being (meaning - die ka muna bago kita kiss!). After some struggle, the Prince kisses Turandot and her hearts melts (na-horny daw ba?)... She confesses that she had felt nothing for all the other princes that she had had killed, but the moment she saw the Prince, she was afraid of him, of how he made her feel.
The Prince then gives Turandot his name - Calaf, the lost Prince of Tartar. So, armed with the name of the Prince, Turandot summons the people at the break of dawn.
They assemble in front of Emperor Altoum's throne... "Father, I know his name! His name is.....
Turandot embraces Calaf, and the people rejoice for their Principessa has finally found a Prince to melt her cold heart...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


How... One of life's most important questions. It is, in itself, a complete sentence - an utterance with a complete thought, whose subject and predicate are implied, and can only be determined through the context of the sentence. For example:

HOW… did Daniel Jacob Gresham Radcliffe get sooooo hot?! I mean, I’ve had a crush on him since I saw his baby blue eyes behind those circular glasses held together by scotch tape in an HBO press conference a few months before the release of the first movie. After that, I borrowed my friend’s copy of Sorcerer’s stone, read it in about two days (I was a very slow reader before Harry Potter, I would read a single 350-page novel in about a month-and-a-half), bought the second book (read it in a day-and-a-half, kinda disappointed though), borrowed the third book (LOVED IT!!!), borrowed the fourth book (LOVED IT EVEN MORE!!!), saw the first movie (18 times, 11 times in the cinema, 7 times at home), bought the British edition of Goblet of Fire (read that version 3x times now, there are subtle differences between the Scholastic version and the Bloomsbury one), bought the VCD of the first movie (DVDs were too expensive then), bought the entire set of books (they were on sale, and it was my birthday!), saw the second movie (8 times – I was busy okay!), bought the second movie (DVD this time because of the cut scenes and special features), bought the fifth book (WAAA!!! Sirius died!!! T_T), saw the third movie (11 times?), bought the Azkaban DVD (is it just me, or is Dan getting really hot?), bought the sixth book (WAAA!!! Dumbledore is dead!!! T_T), and in between all that, I’ve managed to surf the net for tons and tons of pics of Dan and the cast (most of which have been deleted now because I’ve had my computer re-formatted several times).

Dan started out as an adorable little boy with a smile that could light up a room. I’ve seen some pictures of him when he was younger, and he’s just as adorable now, as he was then (perhaps even more so). In the first movie, he had this really small, squeaky voice which would change from scene to scene. But in the second movie – we see him mature so much. He’s much taller now, and he a lot more body mass. In the third movie, he changes his look yet again. This time, he’s leaner, and lankier than he was in the second movie – clearly he’s been working to turn that baby fat into muscle ^_^. Towards the end of the movie, he wears this blue t-shirt that kept hugging his body, making his nipples stick out… *blush ^_^ David Heyman, the producer of Harry Potter, even said that Dan liked going to the gym during lunch hours to work out. I wish I knew how to post pictures here.... but if you want to see just how hot Dan is, I suggest going to and look at the more recent pictures of Dan. He cut his hair really short, and it's made his face more muscly and harder then it was with his great mop of wavy black hair.

Over the years, I’ve come to love Dan, and not just because he’s cute and adorable, and now apparently hot too. But he’s also pretty mature, and he like his rarities when it comes to Music – like me! He also seems pretty smart, he’s studying philosophy now – but I think he’s still in high school. They must have a different educational system in England. I’ve been reading a lot of transcripts of his interviews, and that’s what I can tell. He also seems quite human – I mean, for someone of his stature. I’ve downloaded some clips of his interviews too, and he has such a sense of humour: in one interview, he was asked what his favorite pick-up line was, and he said “Hi, I’m Harry Potter…” ahihihi!!!

But anyway, I think I’ve said my piece. Time changes people, and I’ve seen Dan change, as I’ve seen Harry change. They’re two very different people, and I’m glad that they are both part of my life.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

I *heart Bora

Most people live on a lonely island
Lost in the middle of a foggy sea
Most people long for another island
One where they know they would like to be…
(excerpt from Bali Ha'i from Rogers and Hammerstein's South Pacific)

Well, I know which island I want to be – I just came home from it: Boracay!!! WEEE!!!

It all started a few weeks ago when my mom told my brother and me that our cousin, Stacy, and her husband John, would be visiting for a few weeks. She told us that they want to go to Boracay, and they didn't want to go alone so my mom (with her booking and travel superpowers) booked four tickets on PAL for Bora - one for her, Stacy, John, and ME!!! So I planned everything out - I wouldn't have to come to school because it's sem-break already, but I have finals pa next week, anyway - I freed my schedule and I went with them!

Mom booked us on a flight to Kalibo and a 4-day, 3-night stay at Escondido in Bora. And, since it's off-season, we got the tickets for something like 7,000php per person, which is really cheap considering that normally it costs 12k per person. To tell the truth, I was excited just with the mere fact that I would be going on a plane. I hadn't gone on one since we last left the country five years ago, so the prospect of going on a plane thrilled me just as much as spending a few days at Bora.

We arrived at the Domestic Terminal reserved for PAL pretty early last Tuesday. We stayed at the terminal for like 2 hours just waiting to be boarded. We had our breakfast at the terminal - and here is where the gastos started - a bottle of mineral water costs about 45php at the terminal. Walking around, I noticed this cute guy wearing shades, he was with someone who appeared to be gay, but not really: he was wearing an icky bonnet, and was waaaayyyyy too old for his clothes (let's call him icky-old-guy), but the guy in the shades was adorable... and HOT!

Anyway, we got on the plane, which took off pretty smoothly, flew semi-vertically for like 15 minutes, flew without the seatbelt sign for like 10 minutes, then started its 15-minute descent. When we got to Kalibo, we were fetched by a van, and driven with two other passengers - a lesbian and her lover. We weren't on our way yet, so my mom got a bit impatient. The driver was apparently bargaining with icky-old-guy so he and his son/papa/nephew (just a few of my theories), could get a ride to the docks. Sigh.... this boy was incredibly adorable... Well, he wasn't really a boy, he's probably a bit older than me, but GOD, he's gorgeous (pronounce gorgeous a la Fran Drescher)!

As the van trip progressed (and, dear God, it went on for nearly 2 hours), cutie with shades sat beside my cousin-in-law on the first row of the van. My mom and I were at the second row, so I got a good view of cutie's broad shoulders, the mole on his nape (they say guys with moles thier are habulin, and I think they are: ex. Chicken Little), and his iPod... I fell in and out of sleep during the drive, and a couple of times, I woke up hearing Tina Turner... so I looked around. The van's radio was off, and no lesbian would listen to Tina Turner. And since I know my mom isn't that into music, that left only my cousins, icky-old-guy, and iPod hottie... I bended down and pretended to fix my cute little anklets so I could listen better to hottie's iPod.

HULI KA!!!!!! No straight man would listen to Tina Turner, even if it's her What's Love got to do with it. Hihihi!!! My number 1 theory (that Hottie is icky's little boytoy) just got harder evidence. As we wen't on with the ride, I listened even closer to Hoottie's iPod. The other song that I could remember was Lady Marmalade from Moulin Rouge. Again... no straight man would listen to Moulin Rouge's Lady Marmalade!!! Nakakatuwa talaga! He's completely adorable, and ohhh soooo HOT, but also oh so Gay!!! Hihihihi!!!

Moving on! After a short boat ride, we arrived at Bora right around lunch time, and by the time our hotel porter had picked us up and dropped us off, I had lost track of Hottie. I was too distracted by the GORGEOUSSSSSSSS water... I mean, really wow!!! I've been to Hawaii, and this is faaaaarrrrr better than that. The sun was blazing above us, and I expected the sand to be really hot, but it was really very warm and pleasant! It was actually so soft and so fine, it was like stepping on powder! And the water was sooooo clean and clear, we could actually see the corals under our boat!!! This is really one of the most beautiful places I've been to!

We got our lunch at Jonah's, it's actually a fruit-shake place but they also serve lunch. What is it with this island - everyone seems so nice and friendly!!! When we were dropped off at out hotel (fabulous, by the way; really clean and the facilities were nice, plus, it's like a 45-second walk from the beach), we were very warmly greeted by the staff - with matching complementary orange juice! At Jonah's, the same hospitality greeted us. But when we were seated, and we were given our menus, my gosh!!! The food is sooo expensive! Almost three times the normal price here in Manila. My gosh... magugutom ata kami dito!!! And their servings aren't at all that big, unlike restos like Dencios or TGIFridays. Anyway, the food was ok.

We went back to the hotel after lunch, and lo and behold: Cutie German Boy! Hihihi! He was staying with another cutie German right next to my cousins' room. I'm not actually sure if they're German or Swedish or Dutch, or whatever. I heard them speaking, and to me it sounded German. Cutie German Boy was in his early thrities, gorgeous grey eyes, really tall, kinda skinny but hot enough, and he had this really slick blond hair and a pretty prominent nose. His companion sort of looked like him, except this one was smaller, a little less lanky, had the most immense blue eyes I'd ever seen (right next to Dan, of course), and a lot more body hair; either way, I assumed they were brothers. I saw them several times across the beach front - once they were drinking at Coco Mongo's (at 3pm in the afternoon), and then another time at around lunchtime, they were lounging around another resto near D'Mall (yes, they do spell it like that. It's not really a mall, it's just a strip where you can find great buys, shops, and restos), and another time, when they were just comming out of their room to have breakfast - we were having our breakfast at the dining area right beside their room, they greeted us with a good morning with their heavy eastern Eurpean accents... they were oh so cute, but I like Cutie German boy more - the one with slick hair...

Anyway, there are a lot of things to do in Bora - you can go JetSkiing, Para-sailing, Banana boating, snorkling, etc. BUT you have to be very rich! Para-sailing alone costs 50$ for 15 minutes!!! But we did go snorkling, and the snorkling spots we went to in Puerto are no match to the ones here.

We went to a place called Crocodile island - but no, there weren't any crocs! And while the boat was ancored, we snorkled around it. We asked the boatsmen to buy bread for us, so we could feed the fish. And, my gosh, we really got to feed the fish!!! I mean, you just hold out a small piece of bread, don't let it go, and about a hundred small fish come to you, and they eat out of your hands!!! You have to be very still though, because they won't come if you keep paddling your feet. A couple of times, the fish were actually pecking my fingers and palms in search for food! Some of them even started pecking at my feet, but it always tickled me, so I had to wave them off... They were soo cute!!!

We even found Nemo!!! We saw this glass-bottom boat colored like a clownfish, and it had a logo on its side, "We found him!" Well, we found him too!!! Several Nemos, in fact! Hihihi! They were hiding in the corals, and rubbing themselves against the anemones, which looked really weird. We also found several sea urchins, with their spikes and five beady eyes! We saw a big-ass starfish that was like two feet long (ok, maybe a little less than two feet), and a couple of parrot (?) fish - they were really brightly coloured, they actually looked really gay!!

When we got tired with snorkling, we went back to the hotel. On our way up to our rooms, we passed by the German boys' room - door kept widely open, Cutie German half-naked in swimming shorts, fixing his crotch... no undies... Defile me, Cutie German boy!!! *faint

Anyway... we also went to eat at a lot of places. John, Stacy, and I tried out a relatively cheap Italian restaurant at the other end of the island while mom was having her massage. We ate at Fridays Boracay (not TGIF), a classy fine-dining resto where we had an extremely expensive, but rather delicious 3-course meal. We also ate at Sea Wind, a really cheap all-you-can-eat buffet! Now that was my favorite resto EVER!!! It was 450/person, and you could get a salad (with FRESH oysters!!!), pasta (with three or four choices of toppings), grilled stuff (steak, chicken, Marlin, Tanigue, Shrimps, Squid, pork, etc), and dessert (cute little turons with sesame seeds, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and fresh friuts)! I hope we had discovered this earlier in our stay - I would have told mom to eat there every night!

On to the boys of Bora!!! I don't know if it's just the island or me, but everyone in Bora just seemed hotter, a lot of them were no where near cute of course, but hot nevertheless. There's this one Korean guy who'se really cute, but he was a bit full of himself. I coundn't understand what he was saying, but I wanted to slap him anyway, well, that or pinch his cheeks - or maybe just kiss him! ^_^ I saw him a couple of times, when we were on the boat to Bora, then when we had lunch at Jonah's, then again when we ate at Sea Wind. Then there's this hot surfer boy, except he's not really cute - kinda like Jay-ar, hot bod, icky face that you just want to tear off. He's not really a surfer either, he just sort of had a boogie board, and slid down the waves as they hit the shore. There's this other hot swimmer, American I think. He was wearing a skimpy pair of yellow bathing suits, through which you could almost see his thingy... He swam off to sea, and I never saw him come back - until our flight back to Manila.
Speaking of our flight to Manila... Guess whom I saw??? iPod Hottie was waiting at the Kalibo terminal, with icky-old-guy!!! *heart leaps unexpectedly. In Bora, I only saw him once, walking in the mall in a hot tank-top with icky-old-guy, right around the same time I saw Cutie German boy lounging around with his brother (they seemed especially sweet, so screw that brother theory, I think they're lovers!!!). Anyway, he was extremely cute this time, withour the shades, he had really intense eyes, and he seems pretty smooth too, he wasn't hairy at all like icky-old-guy.
When we got on the plane, he sat on the seat right in front of me. I was on 22E, and he was on 21E.*heart cartwheels. We were both on top of the plane's wings, and we shared a window, so everytime he would look out the window, I got a glimpse of his right-side profile. He's really cute, in a very Filipino way. He has this little mole on the tip of his right ear, and when he reclined his seat a bit, a got to count some of his white hairs... hihihi! I think I saw 11, hihihi!!! *blush
When we got off the plane, I saw him go to the bathroom near the luggage claim area, but I didn't follow him, I was too shy... *blush. He got one of those luggage carriers, and I followed him as he and icky-old-guy sped off to departures... think they were going on another plane, probably out of this god-forsaken country... WAAA!!! Take me with you iPod Hottie!!! T_T
So that's the end of my Boracay Adventure... I had lots of fun, swam in a gorgeous beach, bought a really pretty sarong (2 pretty sarongs!), a couple of tie-dyed pajamas, and a cute little bora shirt... I forgot to but one of those bottled Bora Sands... ang cute!!! Sayang, I wanted to bring home some sand, put it in a mineral water bottle, but John said they had laws against it... T_T
I hope someday, my friends and I could go to Bora. Probably when we all have work already, we could save up and go. It would be really fun to go there with my friends, because all the while on the trip, I kept wanting to break-out and loosen up, but I coudn't - nakatingin ang mama... It would also be fun to be there with a boyfriend... But then, it would be fun just to go to SM with a boyfriend!! hihihi!!!
So... someday, I want to go back to Bora... I did a lot of things there, but there are a lot of other things I want to do. Actually... here:
Bali Ha'i, may call you
Any night, any day
In your heart you'll hear it call you
Come away, come away
Bali Ha'i, will whisper
On the wind of the sea
"Here am I, your special island,"
"Come to me, come to me"
(Change Bali Ha'i to Boracay!!!)