Sunday, March 29, 2015

Raul Sunico concert in the spirit of Philippines-Germany friendship

Pianist Raul Sunico

Raul Sunico, piano

Robert Schumann
     Fantasiestücke, Op. 12
Isaac Albéniz
     Iberia Suite, El puerto and Triana
Richard Wagner/Franz Liszt
     Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde
Nicanor Abelardo
     Nocturne in C sharp minor
Antonio Molina
Franz Liszt
     2 Légendes, S.175
Johann Strauss/Adolf Schulz-Evler
     An der schönen blauen Donau, Op. 314 The Blue Danube

World renowned pianist Raul Sunico showcased his vast repertoire at a concert held recently at the residence of German Ambassador Thomas Ossowski. Less than a month after setting a record by playing three Tchaikovsky piano concertos in a single concert, Sunico performed a totally different lineup of solo piano pieces in front of an intimate audience of selected guests.

German Ambassador Thomas Ossowski and Raul Sunico
Photo courtesy of the German Embassy

After welcome remarks by Ambassador Ossowski, the concert commenced with Sunico performing Robert Schumann’s Fantasiestücke, Op. 12. A suite made up of eight short pieces that made for quite a hefty concert opener as the music journeyed through the realm of dreams and possibly nightmares. Sunico followed it up with two pieces from Isaac Albéniz’ Iberia Suite which were El puerto, a lively depiction of a busy fish port and Triana, named after a gypsy quarter in Seville and infused with the dances paso doble and the sevillana. There was no mistaking the Spanish character and flair of the Albéniz’ music. It was indeed a revelation to hear these Albéniz pieces performed by a solo pianist since the more often performed orchestral arrangement is more familiar to me. A soaring Franz Liszt transcription of Richard Wagner’s Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde was brilliantly rendered by Sunico right from the unsettling “Tristan chord” at the beginning up to the piece’s stirring climax with the piano resonating as if there was a symphony orchestra inside the living room.

DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo and wife Rowena, Raul Sunico, and Luisa Zaide

Filipino music was also represented that night through Nicanor Abelardo’s sublime Nocturne in C sharp minor and Antonio Molina’s mysterious Malikmata. Sunico was able to conjure images with his rendition of Franz Liszt’s 2 Legendes, S.175.

The lightness of St-François d'Assise La prédication aux oiseaux made me imagine that it was the small, friendly birds and not the birds of prey that he was preaching to. But the weighty and grand chords of St-François de Paule Marchant sur les flots brought imagery of turbulent waves that he was able to sail through via an improvised raft and sail after getting denied by a ferryman to carry him.

Diether Ocampo and Raul Sunico

For the finale, Sunico went for the crowd pleasing Adolf Schulz-Elver’s transcription of Johann Strauss’ An der schönen blauen Donau, Op. 314 more popularly known as The Blue Danube. While the popular waltz melody takes centerstage, 20th century harmonies and dissonances included by Schulz-Elver gave it modern sensibilities. Not wanting the concert to end, one of the guests requested a certain Franz Schubert piece which Sunico unfortunately didn’t know. To satisfy the lady’s Schubert request, he played the composer’s lyrical Impromptu in G flat major, Op. 90 No. 3 instead for an encore.

RAd and Ambassador Thomas Ossowski

Raul Sunico’s concert was organized by Ambassador Thomas Ossowski and the German Embassy to promote cultural dialogue and also to celebrate the friendship between the Philippines and Germany. Among the guests in this evening included NCCA Chairman Felipe de Leon Jr., DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo, Swiss Ambassador Ivo Sieber, Monaco Consul Fortune Ledesma, eminent music critic Rosalinda Orosa, actor Diether Ocampo and equestrienne Michelle Barrera, and of course, members of the German community residing/working in the Philippines.

Japanese Taiko Drums in fund raising concert for Bohol

April 11 & 12, 2015, 8:00 PM
Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater)
Cultural Center of the Philippines
CCP Complex
Pasay, Metro Manila

The Cultural Center of the Philippines together with Tokyo Juho, Inc. present The Taiko Effect: Drums of Change, a benefit concert for the rehabilitation and restoration of cultural and heritage sites in Bohol on April 11 and 12, 2015, 8:00 PM at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater).
The show will be headlined by The Mt. Fuji Taiko Symphony Orchestra, the taiko group Arahan and the karate school Hasegawa Karate in an exciting collaboration between music and the martial arts. Singer and recording artist Aisaku Yokogawa will render Japanese and Filipino songs as well as act as host and translator for the show.

The taiko drum is a traditional Japanese musical instrument. “Taiko” has been developed into a broad range of percussion instruments that are used in both Japanese folk and classical musical traditions.

The Mt. Fuji Taiko Symphony Orchestra, formerly known as the Yamanashi Japanese Drum Symphony Orchestra, was founded by the late conductor and composer Sen Amano (1934-2014) who was in his time a prominent Taiko performer. This symphony orchestra was established to share the beauty of traditional Japanese performing arts, specifically the “Taiko” not only within Japan, but to the rest of the world.  The Mt. Fuji Taiko Symphony Orchestra has displayed their mastery of the art by breathing life into various types of plays and theatrical musicals, and they have repeatedly created fantastical imagery through a symphony of sound. The orchestra is based in Yamanashi prefecture where Mt. Fuji is located.

Arahan is another prominent taiko group hailing from the Yamanashi Prefecture, and was led by conductor and composer Sen Amano. They are also a member of the Yamanashi Artistic & Cultural Association and often perform in collaboration with the Mt. Fuji Taiko Symphony Orchestra.

Hasegawa Karate is led by Karate Master Shinichi Hasegawa, a six-time World Karate Champion who established seven Karate Schools within the Yamanashi Prefecture whose doctrine is to promote Karate as a means to educate the youth, and strengthen their physical and mental well-being. He and wife, Yumi Hasegawa, who is active in the management of the Hasegawa Karate School, have close to 1,000 Shitoryu Karate students in the Philippines learning their style of martial arts.

Aisaku Yokogawa is a Japanese national who has spent most of his life in the Philippines. He considers himself a “Pinoy” by heart, and takes great pride in the fact that his knowledge of the Filipino language and culture is at par with that of a native’s. Yokogawa is a Japanese OPM artist committed to sharing his art and talent in singing JPM (Japanese-Pilipino Music).  He recently released an album under Universal records and i&i records featuring diamond classics such as Ted Ito's "IKAW PA RIN" and other 90’s JPM hits.

The Taiko Effect: Drums of Change benefit concert will be the first of a series of events aimed at fostering a stronger relationship between the Philippines and Japan through a cultural exchange program, spearheaded by the Chairman of the ASEAN Exchange Committee, Mr. Hiromi Ishioka (Chief Executive Officer of Akafuji Daiko) with the support and cooperation of the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines, Tokyo.

This event was made possible through the support of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, The Yamanashi Artistic & Cultural Association, The Japan Foundation, Manila, Banzai and Sandaime of the SumoSam Group of Restaurants, and P.B. Dionisio & Co., Inc. and official media partner, 105.1 Crossover Manila.

Ticket prices:
P1000 Orchestra Center
P800 Orchestra Side
P500 Balcony I
P200 Balcony II
-50% student discount
-20% senior citizen discount
+applicable service charges

For inquiries:
CCP Box Office
TicketWorld 891-9999

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Soprano Nelly Miricioiu captivates Manila in return performance

Soprano Nelly Miricioiu with pianist Najib Ismail

Nelly Miricioiu, soprano
Najib Ismail, piano

Ottorino Respighi
     Invito alla danza
     L'ultima ebbrezza
Ernest Chausson
     La Colibre
     Le Papillon
     Le Temps de Lilec
Frédéric Chopin-Pauline Viardot
     Le Danse
Tiberiu Brediceanu
     Cine m-aude cantand
     Canta puiul cucului
     Dragu-mi-i mandro de tine
Giuseppe Verdi 
     Oh, cielo! Dove son'io!-Ah! dagli scanni eterei... from Aroldo
     Come in quest`ora bruna from Simon Boccanegra
Gioacchino Rossini
     Bel raggio lusinghier from Semiramide
Vincenzo Bellini
     Col sorriso d'innocenza from Il Pirata
Manuel Velez
     Sa Kabukiran
Nicanor Abelardo
     Mutya ng Pasig

Soprano Nelly Miricioiu’s successful concert wasn’t just a triumphant return of the diva since captivating Manila audiences more than 30 years ago. The one night event was also remarkable as it was able to bring forth to the Meralco Theater those who have witnessed her previous performances three decades ago along with those from the younger set (including myself) who were either too young or weren’t even born back then.

RAd and Nelly Miricioiu

Resplendent in her metallic peach colored gown, Romanian-born Nelly Miricioiu, presented in her concert various songs and arias that aren’t regularly performed in here. The first half of the concert featured songs by Ottorino Respighi, Ernest Chausson, Frédéric Chopin-Pauline Viardot, and Tiberiu Brediceanu. She performed the set of songs grouped together by composer ending with a heartfelt rendition of a trio of compositions by Romania’s Tiberiu Brediceanu. She made sure to note that the Romanian song Cine m-aude cantand share the same melancholia with some Filipino tunes. When singing the songs from her homeland, it felt to me like she will always be proud to sing these despite the oppression she felt while still residing in her home country. I remember her saying fondly during the press conference (well, it felt like a lunch among good friends and colleagues), that the Romanians are a happy people, but the communism made them lose their smile.

Nelly Miricioiu

The second half of the concert was devoted mostly to arias by Giuseppe Verdi, Gioacchino Rossini, and Vincenzo Bellini. Nelly Miricioiu mentioned before performing these arias that her opera recordings are from those that aren’t frequently staged. Compared to the first half where she appeared more relaxed, she became more intense with the arias as if she was in an actual opera production. She conveyed a great range of emotions that even those seated at the farthest seat from the stage could still feel the passion undiminished. Her intensity remained unabated as she did four such difficult arias in a row without any substantial breaks. And that’s when the strain in her voice started to creep in. It was also when I really wished that she could’ve let collaborating pianist Najib Ismail do a solo first as she let her voice rest for a bit.

Barry Kirk and Nelly Miricioiu

My fears were unfounded because none of the strain showed when she started singing the two Filipino songs, Manuel Velez’ Sa Kabukiran and Nicanor Abelardo’s Mutya ng Pasig that brought the house down. She exuded such radiance during Sa Kabukiran, unable to contain her joy since she has waited more than 30 years to sing this in Philippine soil. I was seated in the front row and I could see how heartfelt was her last lines of Mutya ng Pasig that says Kung nais ninyong ako’y mabuhay, pag-ibig ko’y inyong ibigay! (If you want me to live again, give me back my love!) It made me remember what she said during the press conference that while she thinks that she is most popular in France, the Netherlands, and in the US, she feels most loved in the Philippines. The last line of the song might be a fervent plea for the return of her love but it was Nelly who poured out her love to the audience.

Nelly Miricioiu and Barry Kirk

For encores, Nelly performed the most well known aria of the night, Giacomo Puccini’s Vissi d’Arte from Tosca and the Visayan song Ay! Kalisud. It was amusing when she urged the audience to sing the chorus of the latter song along with her, but there were only a few who did since most didn’t have an idea of what the song was in the first place.

The concert ended on a high note with the audience showering Nelly with thunderous applause and standing ovations. As the event wrapped up, I couldn’t help but remember what Nelly said during the lunch/press conference that really got stuck in my head; she mentioned that she is coming full circle, returning to the Philippines with her husband Barry Kirk this time, and that no matter what, after this concert, her life surely will be changed forever. And I wouldn’t be surprised that there were some members of the audience on that night whose lives were changed as well.

I’d like to thank Joseph Uy, Angel Reyes-Nacino and the MCO Foundation, Allan Andres, and also to Babeth Lolarga for making everything possible. It was very unfortunate that due to illness along with a foot injury, I completely missed the series of masterclasses that Nelly conducted the week following the concert. Thankfully, I was able to catch the first of two recitals by the students who participated at the masterclass. And because of my indisposition, I wasn’t at my finest form and couldn’t focus clearly on the performances. But I think that’s the magic of Nelly Miricioiu. I would overcome illness and a swollen/sore left foot just to see her before she left the country.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Extended Chinese New Year celebrations with the Jilin Provincial Art Troupe

Jilin Provincial Art Troupe

The Jilin Provincial Art Troupe extended the Chinese New Year celebrations when they performed at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo a cultural show entitled Happy Chinese New Year. This show, highlighting Chinese culture through music, song, dance, theater, and even magic tricks, was also in commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the Philippine-China Diplomatic Relations.

Following the opening remarks from Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, the show opened with a lively dance number with the whole troupe wearing colorful costumes representing the various regions of China. All of the dances in fact, featured colorful and intricately designed costumes and it was remarkable that the costumes were still able to showcase the dancers’ elegant and clean lines.

The dancers’ movements were refined and controlled, showing that they’ve had strong classical training and were able to infuse the western classical with the Chinese traditional. It was refreshing to see these dancers who did not need to be wild and hysterical with their bumping and grinding to be considered good.

There were also a handful of song numbers from Wang Qi and Chen Xin, who was also one of the hosts for that evening. They first sang a Chinese song before surprising the audience with a rendition of a Filipino folk song, Pen Pen de Sarapen for Wang Qi and Bahay Kubo for Chen Xin. The audience rewarded the two’s effort with generous applause.

One of the highlights of the show was the unique lion dance that not only had handkerchief tricks but also a courtship between two lions that eventually lead to the birth of three little cubs. This entertaining number actually won the gold at the World Lion Dance Competition in Japan.

For me, the main highlight and what brought the house down was the performance of three pipa players. The instrument may be strange, the music may be unusual, but the virtuosity of the main player (whose name I never found out) impressed the audience to the point that they applauded even while the performance was going on.

Watching the various numbers of the show, I was transported decades ago when some local television stations aired Chinese dramas and variety shows during Sundays. Catered mostly to the Chinese population in the Philippines, it was considered odd for Filipinos to watch these programs since they were not in any language most of us really knew. Fast forward to today, it is encouraging to see how times have changed and how receptive Filipinos are right now in performances that show a different culture.

The Jilin Provincial Art Troupe’s Happy Chinese New Year was presented by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China and the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

A revealing look at Jaime de Guzman

Jaime de Guzman

One of the things that I’d like to do whenever I arrive early at the Cultural Center of the Philippines for a concert is to view the exhibits at the various galleries located inside the building. Currently in view at the Bulwagang Juan Luna (Main Gallery), Pasilyo Juan Luna (Main Gallery Hallway), and the Pasilyo Guillermo Tolentino (3F Hallway Gallery) is the exhibit Revelations: A Jaime de Guzman Retrospective.

Viewing the galleries should not be an intimidating experience and no prior knowledge of art is required at all. Whenever I see artworks on display, I usually categorize them under two categories: either 1) I like it or I would like to have if I can afford it or 2) I don’t like it. In fact, when I attended the media preview of the exhibit, I had no idea at all who Jaime de Guzman is. What I knew then was that this was a great opportunity for me to widen my horizons and also meet the artist himself.

Gomburza Martyrs

Outside the main gallery, a handful of lush, tranquil landscapes (with relaxing greens) and seascapes, all recent works which gave me an impression that Jaime de Guzman is a retiree who is now enjoying a more relaxed pace in life surrounded by nature.

Metamorphosis I
Metamorphosis II
Metamorphosis III

But when I entered the main gallery, the first works that greeted me were a shocking contrast from those displayed just outside. De Guzman’s defining works, the murals Metamorphosis I, Metamorphosis II and Metamorphosis III, and Gomburza Martyrs, dark and disturbing murals with bold, strong and hard strokes. It did made me wonder what kind of transformation has gone through him to come from where he was when he did his earlier works to who he is right now as revealed in his most recent works.

Sabbath of the Witches

And as if an answer to my question, each section of the gallery is dedicated to a decade and his works are placed chronologically enabling me to see how his style and choice of subjects (interiors, landscapes, mysterious hooded figures in the background) have evolved throughout the decades. One thing was constant though; there weren’t any dominating reds in his works thus answering another question of mine as to why blues (in the timeline, the brochure, even the main gallery entrance) pervade the exhibit.

Self-Portrait 1968

The farthest end of the gallery is dedicated to self portraits and also that of other people. I found it interesting that he did several self portraits throughout the years and the varying styles of each portrait is a curious way to guess how his state of being was when he painted it.


Sharing a table with Jaime de Guzman during lunch gave me a great insight to a master who caused such a stir with his paintings back then. When asked if music influenced him when painting, he mentioned that he is fond of the music of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. I mentioned that Metamorphosen was a work by Richard Strauss and that it probably was not a coincidence that he did a Metamorphosis series of murals. The imposing size of these murals and also that of Gomburza made me think of the grand orchestration of Wagner’s operas.

Labyrinthian Way

He also mentioned that the reason why he focused on landscapes or lightscapes (due to the lightness and calmness of feeling as one looks at them) in his latter years is to remind the younger generation of artists to go back to nature. The trend of too much introspection and angst found in contemporary works and the lack of landscapes by these young artists prompted him to create these nature themed works.

Jaime de Guzman in front of his Gomburza Martyrs

I may be late to the party when it comes to Jaime de Guzman’s works but I am very pleased that the current exhibit not only allowed me to catch up, but also gave me the opportunity to meet the artist himself.

Revelations: A Jaime de Guzman Retrospective can be viewed at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Bulwagang Juan Luna (Main Gallery), Pasilyo Juan Luna (Main Gallery Hallway), and the Pasilyo Guillermo Tolentino (3F Hallway Gallery) from Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 AM up to 6:00 PM until May 10, 2015.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Three church choirs take center stage for Glorificamus Te concert at the CCP

March 28, 2015, 7:00 PM
Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater)
Cultural Center of the Philippines
CCP Complex
Pasay, Metro Manila

Imusicapella Chamber Choir
Kammerchor Manila
Novo Concertante Manila

As Christians all over prepare to usher in the Holy Week, three of the best Philippine church choirs, Imusicapella Chamber Choir, Novo Concertante Manila, and Kammerchor Manila, converge at the Cultural Center of the Philippines for Glorificamus Te on March 28, 2015, 7:00 PM at the CCP’s Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater).

This one night concert aims to emphasize the main purpose of the three choirs: to serve in liturgical celebration through music ministries, to maintain excellence in choral singing and to continue to inspire people. 

Formed in 2002, Imusicapella Chamber Choir is a non-profit, amateur, and self-supporting choir composed of young professionals & students coming from Imus & its nearby towns in Cavite under the leadership of Conductor Tristan Ignacio. They were the recipient of the “General Licerio Topacio Special Award” during the 2006 Parangal ng Bayan ng Imus for being an outstanding group of the municipality. Also, They finished as one of the top semifinalists at ABS-CBN's talent reality search- Pilipinas Got Talent (Season 1).

They were considered one of the best choirs in all music festivals they attended. And as a consistent crowd-favorite, they were given the honor of closing (being the highlight and the last choir to perform) on the said festivals.

Imusicapella has its purpose to promote, advance and uphold Philippine culture in the country and internationally through an abiding commitment to choral excellence, to carry on their goal as Cavite's Cultural Ambassadors of Goodwill . They have become steadfast in their goal of attaining choral distinction and recognition as one of the Philippines' finest vocal ensembles.

Established in 1992, Kammerchor Manila is a church-based, self-supporting organization composed of passionate and active young professionals founded by one of the country’s music pedagogues and visionaries, Prof. Fidel G. Calalang Jr. Through the years, KM has evolved to be the one of the Philippines’ premier chamber choir by sharing its long tradition of excellent choral music and continued commitment of service to God.

Recently, KM won the Absolute Winner Award 42nd Festival of Songs held in Czech Republic last June 4-7, 2014. Prior to the final round, Kammerchor Manila won four gold medals in the following categories – Mixed Choir Superior, Mixed Choir, Folklore, and Spiritual, Gospel, and Pop.

For three years now, the group is under the musical tutelage of Mr. Anthony Go-Villanueva, Assistant Conductor of UST Singers, and continues to share the gift of music through regular mass services, concerts and outreach programs.

Novo Concertante Manila, a chamber choir composed of music lovers from all walks of life, was originally established as a recital choir in 1998 headed by choirmaster Mr. Arwin M. Tan. Throughout the years, it has evolved into an ensemble and continues to reinvent itself for the development of artistically intelligent music.

In its 16-year history, Novo Concertante Manila has competed and won in several international choral competitions. Moreover, The National Commission has honored the choir three times with the “Ani ng Dangal” award for Culture and the Arts (2009, 2010, and 2013) in recognition of their achievements in the field of choral music.

Ticket prices:
P1500 Orchestra Center
P1200 Orchestra Side
P800 Balcony I
P500 Balcony II
-50% student discount
-20% senior citizen discount
+applicable service charges

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

Manila Symphony Orchestra partners with Solaire

March 28, 2015, 8:00 PM
The Theatre in Solaire
Solaire Resort & Casino

Ingrid Santamaria, piano
Bituin Escalante, vocal
Christian Yu, vocal
Manila Symphony Orchestra
Arturo Molina, conductor

The Manila Symphony Orchestra had set to have Music Everywhere for its upcoming 2015-2016 concert season. And now, the country’s first orchestra is set to reach the sun and stars as they enter a partnership with Solaire Resort & Casino. This partnership will be highlighted through a free show, entitled Showcase, happening on March 28, 2015, 8:00 PM at The Theatre in Solaire.

Joining the orchestra in this production are vocalists Bituin Escalante and Christian Yu and legendary concert pianist Ingrid Santamaria. Conducting the MSO will be the orchestra’s principal conductor and music director Arturo Molina.

The free show will not only preview the upcoming events at The Theatre in Solaire, but it will be the first time for me to experience a concert focused mainly on the orchestra and ultimately hear the full range of the Constellation Acoustic System in a classical concert setting.

When the theater was launched, the orchestra at the show, the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra, played on a raised platform that was further back the stage. For me to fully gauge the acoustics of the theater, the orchestra needs to be on stage level during symphony performances or at the pit when accompanying a ballet or an opera production.

An attempt to squeeze out more information regarding the concert lineup from MSO Executive Director Jefrey Solares proved to be futile. He said that it would be a surprise and that the show will also be the season launch of the orchestra.

All I know so far is that the concert will include an overture, song numbers by Bituin Escalante and Christian Yu, a four-string concerto by the beneficiaries of the Basilio Manalo Scholarship and a piano concerto with Ingrid Santamaria as the soloist. It remains a mystery as to which concerto will be performed and whether it will be a full one or just a movement.

I guess that I just have to go see Showcase to find out for myself what the Manila Symphony Orchestra and The Theatre in Solaire have in store as they enter into a new partnership. And the show is for free, so there’s no excuse for me (and everyone else for that matter) to miss this.

Ticket price:
Free admission

For inquiries:
Manila Symphony Orchestra 523-5712,

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino, Arnold Reyes' fiery performances in Tanghalang Pilipino's Juego de Peligro

Juego de Peligro's Final Curtain Call

Theater veterans Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino and Arnold Reyes set the stage ablaze as the dueling ex-lovers in Tanghalang Pilipino’s Juego de Peligro (Dangerous Liaisons) which recently wrapped its run at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater).

Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino

Adapted by Elmer Gatchalian from the novel Les Liaisons Dangeureses by French author Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, Juego de Peligro brought to the fore Manila based Spaniards Señora Margarita (Centenera-Buencamino) and Señor Vicente’s (Reyes) lust for conquest as their motherland loses her grip on her colonies towards the end of the 19th century. As always, those beneath them, the mestizos and especially the indios, suffer as pawns in the pair’s deadly game of seduction, deceit and betrayal. The pair’s victims are the religious Señora Teresa, alternately portrayed by theater newbies LJ Reyes and Valerie Concepcion, the naïve teenager Cecilia played by Adrienne Vergara, and the love struck indio Daniel essayed by Lharby Policarpio and Vin Abrenica alternately.

Arnold Reyes

As the sharp tongued Vicente, Arnold exuded the sexiness and charm that showed no doubt how easily it was for women to fall madly in love with him. I could only imagine how exhausting this role must be for him since he was in a lot of the scenes, even consecutive ones. Most plays would have the next scene feature a different set of characters but in Arnold’s case, he would exit the stage, have a quick change (or just remove some clothing) and then enter from another point for the next scene.

Valerie Concepcion

Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino’s Margarita, the grand schemer of it all entangling everyone, even Vicente, in her elaborate web, showed that she is not a woman to be messed with. I particularly loved the scene towards the end of the play when Margarita dresses up to what she considers to be her victory party only to realize that she’d been blindsided. And when she tore away pieces of her clothing in disarray at the final scene, it was a stark contrast to the opening scene where she was being helped into her clothes by a servant and makes her grand entrance with a triumphant air. I think that this was a subtle yet very effective way by director Tuxqs Rutaquio to bookend the play.

LJ Reyes

Adrienne Vergara, known mostly for her offbeat and quirky roles, was delightful as the initially innocent Cecilia who was transformed into a liberated woman through the machinations of both Vicente and Margarita. I now find it hard to imagine any other actress with enough range and guts to portray this memorable and daring role. And I have to take note (pardon the pun) on how difficult it is to sing deliberately off key.

Lharby Policarpio

LJ Reyes and Valerie Concepcion (a late addition to the cast) were both notable in their theater stage debut as Señora Teresa. They both gave gravity to the role that made their character’s fate more tragic. Her line at the end of act one wherein she declared to her aunt Señora Remedios (Sherry Lara) that the Lord knows how she fought her feelings towards Vicente really got through me although I haven’t found myself placed in her predicament. Saddled with almost forgettable roles and performances on television, LJ Reyes and Valerie Concepcion’s respective performances as Señora Teresa

Vin Abrenica

Daniel, portrayed alternately by Lharby Policarpio and Vin Abrenica, is the hapless guy who was relegated as a pawn and Margarita’s boy toy. Lharby’s previous theater experience made for a stronger presence on stage compared to Abrenica, also making his stage debut, who tended to mumble his lines. But credit is due to both actors as they learned how to play a few bars on the piano as Cecilia’s music teacher.

The text of the play by Elmer Gatchalian deftly displayed the social/economic classes and the disparity among them through the use of the language. I couldn’t say how authentic the use of language in Juego de Peligro but I do trust dramaturg Giselle Garcia to know what she is doing. Transferring the setting from 18th century Paris to 19th century Manila specifically Intramuros, made it easier for me to get into the groove of things since I still do know my Philippine history. But there were times when I couldn’t help but wince when some of the lines turned didactic like when Senora Remedios lectured Teresa about the difference between a man and a woman’s love or when Margarita made a scathing remark about the Americans as the worst kind of conquerors.

Adrienne Vergara and RAd

Tanghalang Pilipino’s 28th season, dubbed as DIS/EASE that included productions such as Kleptomaniacs, Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente, Prinsipe Munti, Melanie and Juego de Peligro, had a bumpy road. The production line up changed several times during the course of the season leaving some people confused as to where the season was heading. But with Juego de Peligro, the company wraps up the season on a high note and carrying over an excitement on what the 29th season has to offer.
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