|Soprano Rachelle Gerodias|
Rachelle Gerodias, soprano
Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra
Olivier Ochanine, conductor
Johann Strauss II Overture from Die Fledermaus
Giacomo Puccini Sì, mi chiamano Mimì from La Bohème
Gian Carlo Menotti Hello, Hello from The Telephone
Georges Bizet Les Dragons d’Alcala & March of the Toreadors from Carmen
Nicanor Abelardo Nasaan Ka Irog
Angel Peña Iyo Kailan Pa Man
Lucio San Pedro (arr.) Lulay
Anton Bruckner Symphony No. 4 in E flat major Romantic
The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra returns to its regular performance venue at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater) for its latest season concert. Since previous concert was held at a different venue and featured a guest conductor, it seemed ages ago when I look back at their last performance when everything seemed normal with Olivier Ochanine, PPO’s principal conductor/music director at the helm.
I arrived at the Cultural Center of the Philippines when the pre-concert lecture given by Herminigildo Ranera, PPO’s associate conductor was about to begin. He surprised me when he mentioned Die Fledermaus since I had no idea at first where that came from. To my surprise, additional short pieces were included in the first half of the concert: the overture from the aforementioned Die Fledermaus and a couple of pieces from the opera Carmen. I didn’t know about the inclusion of these pieces before but I didn’t complain since I’d rather have additional pieces than having something cut from the programme.
For me, the main draw of this concert was soprano Rachelle Gerodias whose one night as Violetta in the recent production of La Traviata wasn’t enough for me. I knew that she would sing arias and kundimans for this evening but it wasn’t until almost a week prior to the concert that I knew what her specific repertoire would be. And I was glad that there was a Puccini aria (Sì, mi chiamano Mimì from La Bohème) which basically made everything else just a bonus. I’ve always wanted Gerodias perform in a Puccini opera and hearing her sing Mimì’s most beautiful (and flirtatious) aria in the concert still wasn’t enough. Another side from her which I’ve never seen before was humor and this she exhibited via her next number which was Hello, Hello from Telephone by Gian Carlo Menotti. I’ve never heard of this work before but it was a fun piece that even had Olivier Ochanine playing along at the beginning. Then after the short Carmen pieces, Gerodias returned with a change of clothes to a terno (Filipino formal wear) which was fitting for the kundimans that followed. Showing the affinity for kundimans more than the operas which she is more known for, Gerodias sang Nicanor Abelardo’s Nasaan Ka Irog, Angel Peña’s Iyo Kailan Pa Man and Lulay from an arrangement by Lucio San Pedro. She gave a heartfelt performance especially with Iyo Kailan Pa Man which she did exquisitely. There were foreigners among the audience and I believe that they were moved by this piece despite not understanding the lyrics. Gerodias’ performance that evening made me want to see her in a full length opera once again but I had to wait some months for that to happen.
|Rachelle Gerodias and Olivier Ochanine|
Finally, it was time for Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 in E flat major which is subtitled Romantic by the composer himself. Ochanine had been very enthusiastic about this piece leading to its performance so I’ve had high hopes. And since the previous PPO concert featured very familiar pieces, I’ve had more time to get acquainted with this piece realizing that I wasn’t familiar with it at all in the first place. My first impression of the piece was that it was a horny one with the horns and the rest of the brass section figure prominently throughout the piece. Unfortunately, there were multiple hiccups by the horns (always a problem in orchestras here) that made me a bit bothered. I guess I’ve learned to like the piece because I’ve already listened to it many times that the horns faltering at times let me down. I’m really glad that I studied this piece since it would’ve been very difficult for me to sit through the performance that lasted for about an hour or so if I hadn’t done so.
After this long piece, the orchestra as well as Olivier looked very tired and exhausted. Most of the audience probably felt exhausted as well even if they just watched and listened. So there were no encores again this time. One point of interest during this concert was the presence of several audience members who belong to the blind and deaf community. I could imagine the blind still appreciating the music that they were able to hear but it was difficult for me to figure out how the deaf were able to take in the performance. Yes, they were able to see the orchestra moving and someone did the sign language for them during Gerodias’ performance. I think that it would’ve been better for them if a special concert was held for them that incorporated a more visually engaging element like video/light projections along with the orchestra playing. It was very nice to see them experience the show and I do hope that they come back again in other performances.