• Soprano highlights ‘Tosca’


    The performance of the predominantly Korean cast was highlighted by the tall and beautiful soprano Yeh-Jin Han as Tosca. Her full, resonant voice soared to the heavens as she dramatically and vocally portrayed her role to the hilt, indeed with utter conviction. How meaningful was her every gesture!

    Baritone Daesan No was a grim, menacing Scarpia, chief of police who is fatally attracted to Tosca but who later succumbs to her knife thrusts. Tenor Ji-Ho Kim was the painter Mario Cavaradossi, frustrated lover of Tosca. Both male singers manifested a high degree of vocal competence as well as acting ability, the former evoking abject sadness, the latter, grim realism.

    Greatly enhancing the arias were Tosca’s Vissi d’arte (Love and Music) and Cavaradossi’s E lucevan le Estelle (The Stars Were Shining) rendered in his prison cell to remind Tosca of their happy days together.

    Baritone Byeong-In Park as the political plotter Angelotti, tenor Lemuel de la Cruz as Spoletta, a police agent, baritone Noel Azcona as the Sacristan, and basso Greg de Leon as Sciarrone, a gendarme, lent distinction to their respective roles.

    Although the opera is a tale of horror, murder, death (Mario’s) and suicide (Tosca’s), there were static moments, with little or no action or movement onstage. Was this inherent in the opera? Large, ravishing portrait paintings stressing Cavaradossi’s vocation, served as
    stage settings.

    Korean Jae-Joon Lee, excellent as music director, infused the arias, duos and ensemble songs with arresting dynamics and diverse nuances. Ronan Ferrer and Ma. Teresa Roldan conducted the Coro Tomasino and the Children’s Chopir, respectively, with both vocal groups enriching the presentation.

    Stage direction was by Floy Quintos.

    Enchanting ‘Harana’
    The “Haranas” presented by avid music lover-patron and fervent nationalist Danny Dolor hark back to the Tribung Pinoy which, organized by him years ago, exclusively rendered traditional Filipino music. The most recent Harana held at the CCP main lobby manifested the phenomenal memory and versatility of celebrated international pianist Raul Sunico who played his solo pieces and accompanied the singers without a score, and who arranged some of the numbers interpreted.

    Wearing a fetching, elaborately embroidered gown, Rachelle Gerodias, a leading soprano, fascinated listeners with her superb control of dynamics—a single pianissimo note would turn fortissimo and end pianissimo all in one breath—and with her dramatic talent that expressed widely diverse emotions.

    Sunico played relatively and comparatively easy selections in supremely effortless, fluent manner. The works had no discords, atonalities, dissonances, abrupt or arresting changes of rhythms. Characteristically, they were exquisitely lyrical and melodious, their technical devices bearing similarities. Usahay/Matud Nila by Gonzalez and Zubiri, the most daunting, demonstrated Sunico’s masterful skill.

    Gerodias and Korean baritone Byeong-In Park charmed and endeared as they intoned love songs, Park surprising listeners with his fluency in Pilipino. He was an ardent, persistent suitor as he approached Rachelle with a rose. She, in turn, was alternately coy, reluctant, unbelieving, even defiant but finally responsive and affectionate.

    As their voices rose forcefully and sonorously, the singers’ romantic interaction onstage gained deeper meaning with the realization that they are husband and wife, off.

    Indigenous Festival
    Sen. Loren Legarda, Commissioner Al-anwar Anzur, Dr. Edwin Antonio and Mr. Alphonsus Tesoro discussed the Indigenous Peoples Festival “Dayaw” which the National Commission of Culture and Arts, headed by Felipe de Leon, Jr. later celebrated in Pampanga.

    Young Writers Awards
    Under the auspices of PEN, the F. Sionil Jose Young Writers awards ceremony was recently held at the De La Salle University Library.


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