Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Revisiting Mario Lanza’s legacy in concert

I first became aware of who Mario Lanza was through the 1994 film Heavenly Creatures, one of the most disturbing movies that I’ve ever seen. The film, featuring two deranged teenage girls who imagine Mario Lanza in their fantasy world (the two eventually end up as murderers), was hardly the ideal way to get acquainted with the legendary Hollywood actor credited to bringing opera music to the masses.

Soprano Stephanie Aguilar

But now, a chance to relive Mario Lanza in all his glory comes our way as soprano Stephanie Aguilar and tenor Nomher Nival perform in a concert entitled The American Song Book: Mario Lanza Revisited happening this June 1, 2017, 6:30 PM at the Ayala Museum. Collaborating artist for this evening will be award winning pianist Gabriel Paguirigan.

Tenor Nomher Nival

The American Song Book: Mario Lanza Revisited is presented by the Ayala Museum and the Cultural Arts Events Organizer with the support of Lyric Piano and 98.7 DZFE The Master’s Touch.

The American Song Book: Mario Lanza Revisited
June 1, 2017, 6:30 PM | Ayala Museum

Stephanie Aguilar, soprano
Nomher Nival, tenor
Gabriel Paguirigan, piano

Ticket prices:
P1000 | P700
Discounted rates for Ayala Museum members, AGC employees, ARC members, senior citizens and students are available

For inquiries:
Ayala Museum 759-8288 local 8272, concerts@ayalamuseum.org
CAEO (0917)347-3027
TicketWorld 891-9999

Monday, May 29, 2017

Broadway star Lea Salonga and BYU Chamber Orchestra in concert at the CCP

Apologies for the lengthy break since my last post, but I am back nonetheless brimming with excitement as Broadway star Lea Salonga takes to the Cultural Center of the Philippines stage once again in a concert with the Brigham Young University (BYU) Chamber Orchestra on May 30, 2017, 8:00 PM at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater).

During the past couple of weeks, the BYU Chamber Orchestra, led by conductor Kory Katseanes, has been performing at various parts of the country and they will wrap their Philippine tour with the CCP concert with Lea Salonga. Expect the orchestra to perform music by American composers like Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, John Williams, Richard Rodgers, Leroy Anderson, and George Gershwin while Lea will very likely perform career defining songs from the screen and the stage.

Lea Salonga is best known for originating the role of Kim in Miss Saigon and for being the singing voice of Princess Jasmine from Aladdin and of Mulan. She has recently starred in the Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group's production of Fun Home and is seen currently on television as one of the judges in the teen edition of The Voice.

The BYU Chamber Orchestra is considered the most select among the five orchestras in the BYU School of Music and serves as the touring orchestra representing BYU in the US and abroad. The orchestra is conducted by Kory Katseanes, the Director of Orchestras within the School of Music and a former Director of the School of Music.

Lea Salonga with the BYU Chamber Orchestra
May 30, 3017, 8:00 PM | Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater)

Lea Salonga
BYU Chamber Orchestra
Kory Katseanes, conductor

Ticket prices:
P3000 | P2000 | P100 | P500
50% discount for students
20% discount for senior citizens, PWD, government and military personnel

For inquiries:
CCP Box Office 832-3704
TicketWorld 891-9999

Friday, April 28, 2017

Family friendly films showcased at the 1st Swiss Film Festival

Beat the summer heat with family friendly films as the Embassy of Switzerland in the Philippines, in partnership with the Shangri-La Plaza Mall and the Film Development Council of the Philippines present the inaugural edition of the Swiss Film Festival.

The festival will feature three films for the whole family, Heidi, Vitus, and Rascals on the Road/Mein Name ist Eugen, shown over two weekends (April 28-30, 2017 and May 5-7, 2017) at Cinema 4 of the Shang Cineplex. And just like every foreign language film festival at the Shang, admission is free, on a first come, first served basis.

The Swiss Film Festival is just one of the events lined up by the Embassy in celebration of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and the Philippines.

Here is the lineup of the three films to be screened at the festival.


Director: Alain Gsponer
Cast: Anuk Steffen, Bruno Ganz, Katharina Schüttler, Quirin Agrippi, Isabelle Ottmann, and Anna Schinz

Based on the cherished children’s classic book by Johanna Spyri, Heidi (2015) tells the story of young orphan girl Heidi, who, after being cared for by her Aunt Dete, is brought to the Swiss Alps to live with her reclusive grandfather. The relationship between grandfather and granddaughter is not easy at first but they quickly form a bond. Heidi learns to love the mountains and becomes friendswith a goat herder named Peter. Heidi’s carefree days with her grandfather abruptly ends when Aunt Dete takes her to live in Frankfurt.


Director: Fredi Murer
Cast: Teo Gheorghiu, Bruno Ganz, Julika Jenkins, and Urs Jucker

Released in 2006, Vitus, played by Teo Gheorghiu, is a highly gifted pianist at the age of 12. His parents mean well, but are over-protective, so Vitus rebels and seeks refuge with his grandfather who loves flying. After faking a head injury, Vitus secretly amasses a fortune on the stock market. The money allows his grandfather to purchase a Pilatus PC-6 and his father to return triumphantly to the company that had fired him previously. Vitus pursues his former babysitter, Isabel, but she prefers someone older and does not return his affections. Vitus returns to his piano and performs Robert Schumann's Piano Concerto on stage with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra.

Rascals on the Road/Mein Name ist Eugen

Director: Michael Steiner
Cast: Manuel Häberli, Janic Halioua, Dominic Hänni, Alex Niederhäuser, and Beat Schlatter

From the literary classic by Klaus Schädelin, Mein Name ist Eugen / Rascals on the Road (2005) is a coming of age story set in the 1960s, and tells of 12-year-old Eugen and Wrigley's last summer of adventure. When Wrigley's parents announce their intention to pack him off to boarding school, the boys run away, hoping to find Fritzli Bühler, the “King of Rascals” in Zurich.

But then Eugen and Wrigley bump into their Scouts group on the train and feel forced to join them to Ticino. From there they escape again and attempt to cycle back to Zurich, but the boys' disappearance is noticed and their parents get on their trail. As the boys continue their precarious journey over their Alps, they begin to doubt whether Fritzli Bühler really lives in Zurich and whether he actually exists at all.

According to the press kit, Heidi will be shown in English while both Vitus and Rascals on the Road/Mein Name ist Eugen will be shown with English subtitles. After the initial Shang Cineplex run, the films are expected to go on tour and be screened in various parts of the country.

Here is the screening schedule of the Swiss Film Festival.

April 28, 2017
2:00 PM Heidi
4:30 PM Rascals on the Road
7:00 PM Vitus

April 29, 2017
2:00 PM Vitus
4:30 PM Heidi
7:00 PM Rascals on the Road

April 30, 2017
2:00 PM Rascals on the Road
4:30 PM Vitus
7:00 PM Heidi

May 5, 2017
2:00 PM Vitus
4:30 PM Heidi
7:00 PM Rascals on the Road

May 6, 2017
2:00 PM Rascals on the Road
4:30 PM Vitus
7:00 PM Heidi

May 7, 2017
2:00 PM Heidi
4:30 PM Rascals on the Road
7:00 PM Vitus

Sunday, March 26, 2017

New breed of ballet stars take flight in Ballet Philippines' Swan Lake

Eugene Obille, Joseph Phillips, and Candice Adea

Ballet Philippines’ 47th season ender Swan Lake turned out to be the coming out party of the company’s new breed of ballet stars namely principal dancer Denise Parungao and soloists Jemima Reyes, Garry Corpuz, and Victor Maguad.

This production, restaged by Nonoy Froilan from the choreography of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, saw the young quartet’s debut in a classical ballet lead role. Despite some slips owing to inexperience, each showed flashes of brilliance during their respective performances that I was able to see. One could easily imagine each of them following the footsteps of the production’s guest dancers, Candice Adea and Joseph Phillips.

Obviously, the hot ticket during the limited two weekend run was the International Gala featuring Candice Adea and Joseph Phillips. Having the most experience between the two of them compared to the other pairs, there was a sense of ease and security watching them as they embodied their respective roles. It was hard to believe that after all these years Candice Adea has never danced Odette/Odille before. But it didn’t look like it especially during Odille’s variation when she nailed the opening turns twice eliciting cheers from the audience. Joseph Phillips as Prince Siegfried provided solid support for Candice (whether she be Odette or Odille) never overshadowing his partner. His solo variations here may not have the flashy leaps and turns of his previous performances in Don Quixote or in the Flames of Paris Pas de deux during The Great Classics, but there was a sureness in it that just made me sit back, relax and enjoy watching his performance.

The young pair of Jemima Reyes and Victor Maguad were the leads during the opening night, marking a huge step up for these two. The most technically daring among the leads, Victor executed a brilliant sextuple pirouette early in Act I while Jemima completed her trick laden fouettés, throwing some doubles during the first half and then rotated spots at the second. A far cry from their lead roles in the feel good ballet Peter Pan, both had to dig deep and plunge into emotional depths to fulfill the acting demands for Swan Lake. Their superb performances in their starring role debuts in Firebird for Jemima and Crisostomo Ibarra for Victor somehow paved the way for them to be cast in here.

The other pair of Denise Parungao and Garry Corpuz looked very tall together with each possessing limbs that seem to last forever. Denise’s arms were divine especially towards the end of Act II that actually drew gasps from the audience. Garry, the tallest member of Ballet Philippines, used his extension to maximum effect. Although he played it safe with his pirouettes, his leaps were exemplary with a hang time that make it seem like he pauses for a beat while in mid-air. He also displayed abilities to do double tours in both directions which is a neat trick. Denise, after being sidelined for almost a season due to injury, blossomed as Odette/Odille. Just like a swan, she has transformed into a woman while her previous roles in Giselle and Cinderella, she felt like a girl back then.

The orchestra, under the baton of Yoshikazu Fukumura, was on top form although I couldn’t help but cringe whenever I heard the harp part which was actually an electronic keyboard simulating the sound of the instrument. This further highlights the lack of harpists that our country has which I hope could be remedied as soon as possible. I also have to mention that when I saw a show that didn’t have the orchestra and just had recorded music, the tempo was noticeably faster. No wonder that some of the dancers were a bit off and encountered some difficulties during their performances accompanied by the orchestra. Having to perform on stage at a much slower tempo than the one they’ve been rehearsing with could really throw off their timing especially when jumping and turning.

Ballet Philippines’ latest staging of Swan Lake had been ambitious and also risky considering that all but one of the leads had never danced their roles before. The company’s 47th season was billed as Wings, and with Swan Lake, the young ones who had their baptism of fire with this production had just spread their wings and took their first real flight. And it would be interesting to see how these dancers and the rest of the company will soar as we gear towards their golden anniversary a few years from now.
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