It was a period for reruns of successful Filipino musicals like “Eto Na! Musikal nAPO,” “Ang Huling El Bimbo” and the feel-good “Dirty Old Musical (DOM).” Why, even that apologia for Emilio Aguinaldo, “Miong,” had a comeback. Most welcome was the return of “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Noli Me Tangere – the Opera” (with soprano Bernadette Mamauag) and Ballet Philippines’ groundbreaking “Tales of the Manuvu.”
Dulaang UP closed its season with “Nana Rosa,” a powerful, affecting play about Rosa Henson, the first woman to reveal her ordeal as a comfort woman or sex slave during the Japanese Occupation, written by Rody Vera and directed with brio by José Estrella at the Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater in the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman.
There were heartfelt performances by Peewee O’Hara (with alternate Upeng Fernandez) as the elderly Nana Rosa and Krystle Dianne Velentino (Ingrid Villamarin, alternate), a UP broadcast communication student, as the young Rosa. As the elderly Rosa narrated her harrowing experiences, her story (and those of the other abused women) was being dramatized simultaneously. It was a mix of art and advocacy (“Support the Filipino Comfort Women!”).
At the end, President Duterte was rebuked for his craven attitude to the Japanese government regarding this issue.
The Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO) has a new conductor, Marlon Chen, a Texan of Taiwanese parentage, nimble, charismatic and “cool” – he gyrates with the music. He showed this during the recent concert at the art deco Far Eastern University Auditorium. The soloist was pianist Raffi Kasparian, a Californian of Armenian-American parentage who (his stage presence enhanced by a Barong) unleashed a no-nonsense attack upon two beloved warhorses: “Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and a piano concerto by Rachmaninoff.
Conductor and pianist, what a pair. “I’m a romantic,” Kaparian told media men after the concert. “My favorites are Rachmaninoff and Liszt.” The concert was also highly informative, thanks to the commentaries of MSO director Jeffrey Solares.
Comebacking Chinese cellist Ray Wang, in a concert with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra led by Yoshikazu Fukumura, regaled the near-capacity crowd at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) with a sensitive reading of Schumann’s “Cello Concerto.” He obliged with an encore accompanied, at his request, by the members of the cello section. And the applause he gallantly shared with his fellow cellists.
Greenbelt 3 remains the venue for “Met Opera in HD,” a project of the CCP. The most recent to be shown was Donizetti’s “L’elisir de Amore (Elixir of Love).” Next in the monthly series, which runs until June 11, is Puccini’s “La Boheme.” See you at the opera! —CONTRIBUTED