Vissi d'arte

from lullaby to requiem

Monday, July 31, 2006

Altas de Sociedad

Last Saturday, my Comm 1 class, Patrick, and I went to a gala thrown at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in honor of the Philippine-Japan Friendship Year. The major event was a recital of sorts - featuring Arias and Scenes from composer Giacomo Puccini's four most popular operas: La Boheme, Tosca, Turandot, and Madama Butterfly - entitled Operanow: An Evening of Puccini.

The evening was hosted by both CCP and The Philippine Opera Company, which is also premiering its first ever opera/concert season. I believe this is the first regular season in the Philippines since the Manila Grand Opera House, which was destroyed during the 2nd World War. The season actually kicked off with performances of Terrence McNally's Masterclass, a hilarious fictional account of Maria Callas' lectures at the Julliard School. I saw it, it was fabulous! Callas was played by the incomparable Jay Glorioso, who radiated La Callas' aura all throughout the performance - from her voice to her mannerisms.

Operanow featured some of the country's most promising opera singers along with some Japanese artists. Among the best performers were Camille Lopez-Molina (who sang Tosca's Vissi d'arte - fabulous to the nth level - I couldn't hold back my Bravas; I hadn't felt that way since I saw Aprille Millo singing the same aria. But La Lopez is infinitely better!); Thea Perez (Mimi in La Boheme and Liu in Turandot, beautiful voice, albeit a little weak); Conrad Ong (Calaf in Turandot, fabulous voice. We saw him the previews night at a dinner-theatre with soprano Alexis Edralin - Patrick's long lost cousin); Sal Malaki (Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly; like Ong, gorgeous tenor voice, very powerful); Hisara Sato (Cio-cio San in Madama Butterfly; gorgeous voice, very dramatic, great actress too; unfortunately, they cut Un bel di from her repertoire); Kazuko Nagai (Suzuki in Madama Butterfly; the playbill says she's a mezzo, but during the performance, she was at par with Sato San... oh well!); and Hiroaki Otsuka (bass; really tall! He sang several roles over the entire evening; gorgeous basso profundo voice, almost ethereal, reminded me of Callas' greatest bases - Nicola Zaccaria and Nicola Moscona). The other performers were, at best, forgettable.

I thought that the evening was going to be all about opera and the Company's first season, instead the performances fell second to the socializing that happened after. Patrick and I met up with (read: stalked) several different singers. We had our playbills signed by Thea Perez, who invited us to see her in Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovski - am I spelling that right???) later this year. We also stalked Camille Lopez - who was, hands down, the diva of the evening - even though she only sang one aria. I really think she was uber-underused! She could have easily sung Turandot's aria - In questa reggia! That would have, quite literally, brought down the house! Camille was later approached by soprano Joanna Go, who sang Liu's death aria at the last Operanow. We took pictures, and voila - the Three Sopranos! We also chatted with soprano Rachelle Gerodias, one of Jaja's teachers, even though she didn't sing that night. Apparently, she would be singing with Thea in Eugene Onegin.

We also met up with Jay Glorioso, twice. The first time was during intermission. I approached her and congratulated her for her Masterclass performance. She took my hand and thanked me, commenting that I looked familiar. The second time we met up with her, during cocktails after the show. She seemed pretty interested; I told her that I was a teacher, and she asked if I could get more of my students to watch some performances (which I already intended to do), so I said of course. We chatted for a bit more, and I learned that she still taught voice to students of all ages and singers of all genres. Deep in my mind, I was thinking if she were willing to teach me to sing! Hahaha! At the end of our little chat, we swapped numbers, and she leant over and gave me a beso.

Later on, the Japanese sopranos came out, and of course, we asked for their autographs and pictures. I asked Madame Sato why she didn't sing Un bel di, she said that she wanted to, but that the organizers said it was, and I quote, "Imposible!" Miss Sato was pretty tall, and she was quite polite. I suppose most Japanese people are. I was confused whether I should bow to her or do something else. I ended up nodding my head. Same thing happened with Miss Nagai.

In all, the evening was pretty fun. I took pics with my class and, after eating, they left. It was raining pretty hard, so Patrick and I had to wait for some time before we could go back to the car. On our way out, we saw Camille Lopez sitting on the steps in the side entrance of the Center. We waved at her, and she waved back...

Altas de Sociedad - here we come!


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