Live opera returns at the Cultural Center of the Philippines after more than two years with Giacomo Puccini’s monumental opera, Turandot on Friday, December 9 at 8pm and a Sunday matinee on December 11, at 3pm at the CCP Main Theater.
Zenaida “Nedy” Tantoco, one of the producers representing Rustan’s Group of Companies, decided to tie up with the CCP in time for the celebration of the 60th year of the Philippine-Italian Association (PIA). “Presenting Turandot by Puccini would be an appropriate way to further promote Italian arts and culture in the Philippines and in the process raise funds for PIA,” she pointed out.
She added that Italian Ambassador Marco Clemente also encouraged her to produce and mount Turandot. “It is just timely that we are commemorating 75 years of diplomatic relations between Italy and the Philippines. The ambassador said he would be happy to co-sponsor two nights of the opera,” Tantoco added.
CCP president Margie Moran-Floirendo, according to Tantoco, told her Turandot is one of her favorite operas. “Margie (Floirendo) was just too happy to support it,” she said.
Tantoco however realizes the high cost of producing opera in this country. “Anywhere in the world, it takes a lot of financial resources to mount grand opera. The sets, the costumes, and the talent fees of artists need a gargantuan budget. I was just lucky to get the support of people who care about arts and culture in the Philippines,” she added.
Among those who endorsed and supported the mounting of Turandot were Governor Chavit Singson of LCS Group of Companies, Dr. Jaime Laya of Filipinas Opera Society Foundation, Inc., Mr. Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corporation, Alice Eduardo of Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corporation, TG Limcaoco of Bank of the Philippine Islands, Kevin Tan of Hilton Manila, arts patron Danny Dolor and the Rustan Group of Companies.
Tantoco believes the staging of Turandot is a welcome development in the arts and culture scene. “I am sure Filipino music lovers will enjoy the Puccini opera. The costumes and sets will dazzle them. Plus, the most popular aria in the opera, Nessun dorma, will be heard live accompanied by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under seasoned Italian conductor Valentino Favoino.”
Dr. Jaime Laya pointed out that the Filipinas Opera Society Foundation, Inc. (FOSFI) is glad to be a partner of the Philippine-Italian Association and the Cultural Center of the Philippines in yet another opera presentation.
It will be noted that FOSFI has also co-sponsored another opera production organized by Tantoco together with the CCP, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in January 2020.
The opera foundation was created under the leadership of the late Imelda Ongsiako-Cojuangco, precisely to promote appreciation of opera in the Philippines and to support talented Filipinos.
Dr. Laya added: “We are delighted to join hands with PIA and CCP in this endeavor that brings the rarely staged Puccini opera to Manila. It is also a great opportunity to hear distinguished Korean and Filipino singers in one big opera collaboration.”
CCP President Margie Moran Floirendo said producing Turandot became feasible by tieing up with Rustan’s Group of Companies represented by Nedy Tantoco. “Nedy (Tantoco) has been an impresario of opera for some time now. It became timely because we are observing the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Italy and the Philippines. Moreover, the presentation will also help improve opera appreciation in the country. I got to like opera because of early exposure to it along with my daughters. An opera like Turandot is one of the most powerful of the art forms. It combines music, voice, dance, drama, theater, and storytelling and uses massive sets and costumes. It evokes vivid emotions ranging from joy, love, life, loss, death, anger, and sadness that often leads to tragedy.”
The CCP president said it is crucial to collaborate with other sectors and institutions for a monumental project like the Puccini opera. “Let’s face it, the cost of producing opera is mind-boggling. Like funding an orchestra and other resident companies of the CCP, it takes a village to mount grand opera.”
Italian Ambassador Marco Clemente said the Italian Embassy was just too happy to support the project. “The Italian embassy will provide substantial financial contribution. Opera was created by a group of Renaissance intellectuals in Florence more than four centuries ago. It is undisputable that the general public still tends to associate the very concept of opera to Italy and to the Italian language. For that reason, it is important for an Italian Ambassador to strongly support live performances of Italian operas, especially after the long closure of theatres due to the pandemic.”
The Italian ambassador agreed to the staging of Turandot which is a timely and grand way of celebrating the 75th anniversary of Philippine-Italian diplomatic relations. “I join Filipino opera lovers in anticipating the most popular aria in the Puccini opera, Nessun dorma.”
Italian Director Maestro Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini who also directed Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor at the CCP in 2020 will arrive in early November to direct.
Korean singers lead the cast namely soprano Lilla Lee as Princess Turandot and bass Jinsu Lee as Timur, the exiled Tartar king.
Soprano Rachelle Gerodias sings the role of Liu, Byeong In Park takes the part of Ping the Grand Chancellor with tenor Ivan Nery as Pong, the Grand Intendant. Also in the cast is tenor Nomher Nival as Emperor Altoum and baritone Greg de Leon as Mandarino.
Maestro Valentino Favoino will lead the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra along with distinguished choral ensembles of the Viva Voce Voice Lab.
Members of the opera dance ensembles will come from the ranks of Alice Reyes Dance Philippines.
The Director of the 2022 Turandot at the CCP is Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini with Prince Sisowath Ravivaddhana Monipong as assistant director. Giovanni Pirandello is the lighting designer.
Turandot in Manila was made possible with a joint tie-up with the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Embassy of Italy, Filipinas Opera Society Foundation, Inc., and Rustan’s Group of Companies.
The two-day opera gala is sponsored by LCS Group of Companies, San Miguel Corporation, Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corporation, BPI, Danny Dolor, and Hilton Manila.
Ticket prices are: Orchestra Center
P6,000.00, P4,000.00; Orchestra Sides (right and left) at P5,000.00 P3,000.00; Balcony I Center P2,500.00 P1,500.00 and sides (right and left) P2,500.00 and P1,500.00.
For ticket reservations and inquiries, contact the following:
CCP Box Office (8832-3704), TicketWorld (8891-9999) and SM Tickets (8470-2222, 0917-8702222); Lulu Casas (0917-5708301, firstname.lastname@example.org); Maricar Alamodin (0917-5384508; email@example.com);Rustan’s Makati (8813-3739 Loc. 280); Rustan’s Shangrila (8633-4636 Loc. 400); Rustan’s Alabang (8850-5592); Rustan’s Gateway (8931-2460).