The masterpiece of National Artst Felipe Padilla de Leon, “Noli Me Tangere the Opera,” returns to the Manila concert stage after seven runs in this country and the United States since it first premiered at the Far Eastern University Auditorium in 1957. Libretto is by National Artist Guillermo Tolentino, sculptor.
Last staged at Resorts World Manila in 2014 and then at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in 2017 “Noli Me Tangere the Opera” returns to the CCP stage on March 8-10. The new production has 200 actors, classical singers, classical musicians and production crew.
The opera is produced by J&S Productions, with producer Jerry Sibal as director along with Jeffrey Camañag. Artistic director is Raul Sunico. Herminigildo Ranera conducts the 53-piece Noli Symphony Orchestra.
Ivan Niccolo Nery and Nomher Nival alternate as Crisostomo Ibarra, protagonist of the 1887 novel by National Hero José Rizal. Nerissa de Juan and Bianca Camille Lopez play the role of the tragic heroine Maria Clara, with Nils Flores and Ronnie Abarquez as the sinister Padre Damaso.
Child actor-singer Noel Comia Jr. (the boy who longed for a father in the indie film “Kiko Boksingero”) is Basilio.
Among the notables in the press conference were CCP President Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso and the sons of composer De Leon: retired Court of Appeals Justice Magdangal de Leon, a baritone; and humanities professor Felipe M. de Leon Jr.
Professor De Leon said both his father and Tolentino were “Renaissance men,” with the sculptor being a mystic (espirista) who held séances (and communicated with the dead).
Justice de Leon recalled that he grew up with “Noli” the opera, playing roles like Basilio when he was a boy and Pilosopo Tasyo in his mature years. “Can you imagine how hard it is to write an opera,” he exclaimed.
The Noli Is “a classic which needs retelling,” said producer Sibal. “It is so relevant and it’s happening again now. We hope to mount it every year.” —CONTRIBUTED