The CCP and J&S Productions Inc. are co-presenting the Philippines’ first full-length opera,NOLI ME TANGERE, The Opera, marking its 60th anniversary with a limited six-performance run at the CCP’s Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo from January 28 (gala premiere) to February 3, 2017. The opera was premiered at the Far Eastern University in 1957 and made its CCP debut in 1987.
Based on Dr. Jose Rizal’s classic novel of the same name, Noli Me Tangere, The Opera was written by National Artist for Music Felipe de Leon (“Payapang Daigdig,” “Sarong Banggi”) and was set to a libretto by National Artist for Sculpture Guillermo Tolentino.
This production, which earlier had critically-acclaimed engagements in New York, Washington D.C., and at the Resorts World Manila, features a brand-new staging under the directorial reins of debuting stage director Jerry Sibal, a sought-after event designer in New York City, who is also designing new sets and costumes.
The show’s score and orchestrations, arranged in the Western operatic tradition with overflow passages reminiscent of Mozart, Puccini, and Wagner, and sung in Tagalog, will be played by the newly formed 52-piece Noli Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Herminigildo Ranera.
An opera in three acts, Noli Me Tangere, The Opera follows the story of Juan Crisostomo Ibarra, who returns to the Philippines after pursuing scholarly studies in Europe. He plans to open up a school and marry Maria Clara, his betrothed. However, parish priest Padre Damaso, the archenemy of the Ibarras, is out to hinder Crisostomo’s plans, which creates a dramatic storyline of forbidden love, betrayal, and revenge.
Both the novel and the opera depict the abuses suffered by the native Indios at the hands of Spanish tyrants. Both forms also paint a clear picture of the so-called “social cancer” such as the rotten system of governance, the illicit ways of the church, and the unfavorable trade of the privileged class.