After its successful runs in New York and Washington D.C., the opera staging of Jose Rizal’s masterpiece, Noli me Tangere, finally returns to Manila.
Raising curtains on Saturday at the Newport Performing Arts Theater in Resorts World Manila, Noli Me Tangere: The Opera is once again staged in full after 27 years in Manila—giving a once-in-a-lifetime experience of Filipino history, art and literature.
An adaptation of Rizal’s novel, the opera stems from the collaborative artistry of two Philippine National Artists, composer Felipe de Leon and Guillermo Tolentino, who is responsible for the libretto. It is considered to be the first-full length Filipino opera composed in the Western operatic tradition.
The realization of this one-of-a-kind musical was conceptualized by no less than Loida Nicolas Lewis who, with original executive producer and costume and set designer Jerry Sibal. Both aim to uplift the musical artistry of Filipinos worldwide through the musical.
“It is the perfect time to bring back the Noli opera to Manila because there have been a lot of Broadway productions staged here recently,” said Jerry Sibal, president of JS Productions Inc., which produced the opera.
“The younger generation is so immersed in the Internet that they’ve forgotten history and culture. I think it’s high time that we educate them as it is our history that identifies us as Filipinos,” he added.
Directed by Freddie Santos, the distinct take on Rizal’s 1887 opus, has already made its rounds in Chicago and New York for the 25th celebration of the Filipino-American History Month.
It’s latest international run was in August at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. before a full house crowd.
Also part of the production is Camille Lopez Molina as vocal master, who will bring life to the operatic rendition of Rizal’s masterpiece sung entirely in Filipino.
World-class Filipino talents
The Manila production of Noli Me Tangere: The Opera will be headlined by two world-class talents—Sal Malaki as Crisostomo Ibarra, the liberal-minded, outspoken and idealistic youth whose eyes were opened to the harsh reality of revolution, and Rachelle Gerodias as Maria Clara, Ibarra’s sweetheart whose character is a crucial part of the narrative.
Malaki is one of the most seasoned artists of the Los Angeles Opera Company, housed under the general direction of world-renowned tenor and conductor, Maestro Placido Domingo. He has performed in more than 105 Los Angeles opera productions—a very rare feat, which he achieved since joining the company in 1995. Despite having performed in virtually every opera masterpiece created in his 19 consecutive seasons with the company, Malaki feels very excited for Noli.
“This is our very own and we can claim this tunay na Filipino,” he said. “We learned about Noli when we were young in a classroom setting as requirement but here, we continue to learn. We continue to look and examine this work again and learn something on national pride and be proud about it, and move forward to make at least one significant change,” the actor said.
Meanwhile, Gerodias received her Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance and Vocal Literature from the famed Eastman School of Music, in New York and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music. She is also an awardee of “The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service.”
For Gerodias, she also feels ecstatic to interpret Maria Clara’s character especially her beautiful aria “Kay Tamis ng Buhay sa Sariling Bayan.”
“Noli Me Tangere is probably the most beautiful operatic work that is truly Filipino,” she said. “I feel so proud to be part of this production. Aside from the beautiful music everyone will surely enjoy, it is a story about love, honor and hope, things we all need to draw inspiration from.”
Playing alternates for Ibarra and Maria Clara are Manila-based and undiscovered performers, Ivan Nery and Myramae Meneses.
Nery and Meneses, who both hail from St. Scholastica’s College in Manila with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music, trains under the illustrious soprano, Camille Lopez-Molina. They have been in multiple opera and theater productions in the past years and have actually portrayed Ibarra and Maria Clara in previous stages. This will be their first time performing the Noli opera in such a grand scale.
Noli Me Tangere: The Opera is spearheaded by Filipino-American philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis and supported by Sibal as executive producer), Edwin Josue as assistant executive producer), and Mark and Christine Manalang from Ultimate Shows Inc. It runs until September 28 at the Newport Performing Arts Theater, Resorts World Manila.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/nolioperamanila or call 899-7938 or 39. For ticket inquiries, contact Dennis Villaluz at 788-9108, 0916-8571-553, or 0932-175-8599.