Bonifacio Global City’s Arts Center Festival in Taguig was climaxed by Opera Gala, a presentation before a full house at the new MayBank Performing Arts Center presented by musicArtes and impresario Joseph Uy, directed by Leo Rialp, and featuring La Scala tenor Arthur Espiritu leading a talented group of rising classical singers.
Next to a full-length production, lovers of opera couldn’t ask for more. Espiritu was in fine form and the ensemble interpreted all those delectable arias from Mozart, Puccini, Verdi, Leoncavallo, Bellini, Gounod, Delibes, Tchaikovsky, Rossini, Bizet, Meyerbeer, Lehár and Offenbach.
Solo performers Lara Maigue and Marielle Tuason did bravura renditions of Offenbach’s “The Doll’s Song” and Delibes’ “The Bell Song,” respectively. And the final ensemble numbers were Mozart’s “Questo al Fin” from “Don Giovanni” and that Puccini warhorse “Nessum Dorma.” More, please.
That formidable young violinist Diomedes Saraza Jr. returned to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) stage, played Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto” with élan, assisted by the heroics of Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra music director Yoshikazu Fukumura, and was rewarded at the end by a storm of applause. Fukumura ended the evening with Elgar’s “Enigma Variations,” which again elicited loud bravos from the crowd.
Superstar from Korea
Korean superstar Sumi Jo swept into town once more, and at Meralco Theater in Pasig City, showed that she is indeed one of the foremost operatic sopranos of her generation. Her loyal Filipino fans gave her an ovation. Helping in the success of the concert was flutist Antonio Maigue, pianist Naijib Ismail and tenor Paul Galvez.
The event was another milestone of indefatigable cultural impresario Joseph Uy.
Lisa Macuja’s Ballet Manila has a new star, Katherine Barkman, an “import” from the United States, who shone as Kitri in “Don Quixote.” Just as sensational was guest artist Mikhail Martynyuk, another import from Russia, who dazzled the crowd with his whiplash turns and leaps, spinning like a top.
The only discordant note was the dancer who played Gamache, not very credible as Kitri’s “rich and elderly” suitor, because he was so effeminate in manner. Perhaps the ballet coach wanted it this way?
The number of performing classical artists given rock-star treatment is increasing. There are the dancers Candice Adea and import Joseph Phillips, brilliant as Odette/Odile and Prince Siegfried, respectively, in Ballet Philippines’ “Swan Lake” at CCP (in fact, Adea was even better as the Black Swan/Odile).
After the show, the capacity crowd streamed to the main lobby for the obligatory photo-op and, as the two stars descended (along with the rest of the cast), the lobby became a sea of humanity with upraised cameras.
A fitting way to end BP’s 47th season.
After Saraza, add Joaquin Ma. “Chino” Gutierrez to the list of distinguished young violinists who have reaped acclaim here and abroad, specifically in the United States and Germany. At a recent concert at Francisco Santiago Hall, Makati City, Gutierrez, with the always excellent Mary Anne Espina at the piano, thrilled the cognoscenti with a classical-late romantic repertoire. And his rendition of the Cebuano “Matud Nila” (They Say), by Wenceslao Zubiri and transcribed by Redentor Romero, was achingly beautiful. —CONTRIBUTED