“Noli Me Tangere: The Opera,” a landmark adaptation of the Jose Rizal novel by two Philippine National Artists, composer Felipe de Leon and Guillermo Tolentino who wrote the libretto, will go onstage in New York City on Oct. 4, 5 and 6, 2013, as part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the Foundation for Filipino Artists Inc.
The opera will be sung in the Philippine national language, Filipino, with English subtitles.
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.”
“Lovers of Philippine culture would have heard of Rizal’s classic novel,” says Loida Nicolas Lewis, the project’s lead producer. “When they hear the ‘Noli’ opera sung in the Filipino language, Filipino-Americans everywhere will be curious and amazed that this masterpiece could be presented in New York.”
“Noli Me Tangere: The Opera” will feature musical direction by Michael Dadap, renowned conductor of the children’s orchestra in New York, and sets and costumes by Jerry Sibal, a prolific Filipino designer, also based in NYC.
The New York production features an all-star cast of performers and singers, led by Sal Malaki, a Filipino tenor who is considered one of the most seasoned artists in the Los Angeles Opera. Malaki plays Crisostomo Ibarra.
Playing Maria Clara is Inez Antoni Mendezona, an internationally-acclaimed performer whose voice and stage presence have been captivating audiences since she made her European debut in Tobias Picker’s “Emmeline.”
Andrew Fernando, artistic director of George Yang’s Klassical Music Foundation, takes on the role of Padre Damaso, the abusive Spanish friar who was the symbol of oppression in “Noli.”
Maria Cristina Navarro portrays Sisa, an iconic character who is forever remembered as the mother searching for her two children all over the streets of Manila. Navarro is a veteran of Filipino operas; her most recent portrayal being the titular role in Dr. Ramon Geluz’s “Karim and Jasmin.” She has also performed in Switzerland, the United States, Austria and the Philippines.
Roberto Perlas Gomez, meanwhile, playing Ibarra’s radical friend Elias, has over 90 operatic roles to his name with various opera houses. Young singer Kirby Asunto, who recently sung for Manny Pacquiao’s Las Vegas fight, joins the cast as Basilio.
“Noli Me Tangere: The Opera” will run Oct. 4-6 at The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College on Lexington Avenue and 68th Street in Manhattan. Tickets are $150 and $100 for gala night Friday (8 p.m.) and $100, $80 and $60 for Saturday (8 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.). For tickets and more information, visit www.nolioperany.org. Or call/email Carissa Villacorta or Pauline Mangosing +63917-5955480, +63922-8171293; [email protected], [email protected]