The country’s preeminent classical ballet company, Philippine Ballet Theater, features “The Merry Widow” as its 31st season offering on September 30 and October 1 at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).
Leading a powerful cast of homegrown talents are 2016 CCP’s highest awarded female dancer Irene Kim Abrogena and 2016 World Ballet Competition 4th Placer Veronica Atienza alternating in the lead role.
Playing the male lead role is guest artist Martin Buczcko from Germany.
“The Merry Widow” first delighted theatre audiences as an operetta by Hungarian composer Franz Lehár as it was shown in Vienna in 1905. Presented as a musical feast, the operetta captures the contrast of the main characters, the fiery, passionate nature of Balkan the Pontevedrians and the elegant sensibilities of Parisians, whose city is the backdrop for this story of love and intrigue.
Choreographed by artistic director Ronilo Jaynario, PBT’s version appeals to the Filipino audience’s eye for passion, melodrama and “vida/contravida” counterplay as it fuses innuendoes of political intrigue with the characters’ licentious and comical misadventures.
Coming from a wellspring of Filipino talent, honed by the dedication of Russian ballet master Anatoly Panasyukov together with Ronilo Jaynario, the lead dancers for “The Merry Widow” add another layer of excitement through their take on the ballet’s lush choreography.
Prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn of the Royal Ballet of England danced the role of Hanna Glawari, the merry widow, when she was almost 60 years old, as her last major ballet role.
In an interesting counterpoint, PBT’s “The Merry Widow” is essayed by young lead dancers, both between the ages of 19 and 21, who aim to show that they can essay this ballet’s challenging mix of maturity and hilarity with grace and aplomb.
Through a series of intimate pas de deux or dance duets and ballroom dance scenes, themes of courtship, romance, forbidden love and adultery receive both provocative and witty choreographic treatment.
The Philippine Ballet Theatre is the country’s preeminent classical ballet company founded by a group of creative visionaries led by National Artist Leonor Orosa-Goquinco and composed of dance luminaries including Julie Borromeo, Gener Caringal, Eddie Elejar, Vella Damian, Steve Villaruz, Tony Fabella, Tita Radaic, Sony Lopez-Gonzales, Eric Cruz and Inday Gaston-Mañosa.