Friday, May 8, 2015

Trial by Jury: A Philippine Premiere

It is rare that one gets to watch an almost perfect performance of opera in Manila. The only complaint an audience member could make was that it ended too soon (running time was under an hour)! But everything else was as perfect as perfection could be, a shining testament to what happens when there is proper funding and when all the members of the production are the best in their field (when you get the likes of Floy Quintos to direct, Ohm David for set design, etc.). It was an unforgettable evening!

A few musical snobs (or rather, a few musically discriminating aesthetes --  to be politically correct) might say that operetta is not on the same level as grand and epic opera, but to those people, I say: "Pah!" Having seen my share of Italian verisimo operas, tragic and comic alike, I must say that watching an English opera was a special treat. There is truly no substitute for word-for-word comprehension, and comedy works at its finest with lightning speed wit that had the esteemed  and distinguished audience laughing heartily, just as if they were watching a HIMYM episode. 

It certainly had all the plot ingredients for it! The lecherous old man judge, the suited-up dandy, the plaintiff's counsel (whose character, of course, HAD to be graduate from UP Law ;), "Where else?" ), the innocent-kuno bride-to-be, the closet gays, the judgmental ladies... it was one hour of non-stop frolic and not-so-clean fun!

I was particularly struck by the amount of sheer talent on one stage last night. When one reads the program and the names listed therein, one is struck by the fact that it is a veritable Who's Who of the finest singers and production people in Manila.... the opera equivalent of a movie that's sure to be in the running for an Oscar. Pick any member of the ensemble or "chorus" and there's a distinguished career/background to go with the pretty face and voice, with the likes of Master's degree holder from the Royal College of Music, London, soprano Anna Migallos... top voice teacher and multiple award winning soprano Camille Lopez-Molina... and of course, the highlight of the evening were the performances by the singing lawyers, Dot Ramos-Gancayco and Kay Balajadia-Liggayu! Proof that there are really super women amongst us who can excel in any field of endeavour, be it law or the arts.

Congratulations to the UP Women Lawyers’ Circle (UP WILOCI) and Zonta Club of Manila I for mounting this production! If you have the chance to see their upcoming shows, DO seize the opportunity because shows of this standard don't come along very often!


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