Thomasian artists take center stage in Noli adaptation

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Photo courtesy of Noli Me Tangere Opera Manila Facebook Page and J&S Productions Inc.

HOMEGROWN talents dominate the cast of “Noli Me Tangere, The Opera,” an opera adaptation of Jose Rizal’s 1886 novel that runs at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo of Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) until Feb. 3.

Sixty years since the opera’s premiere at the Far Eastern University Auditorium in 1957, the production is being re-staged with a full-length narrative and 16 scene changes, more than 200 performers and a “Filipinized” set design by New York-based stage director Jerry Sibal.

Produced by CCP and J&S Productions, the opera was composed by National Artist for Music Felipe de Leon with a libretto written by National Artist for Visual Arts Guillermo Tolentino.

Protagonist Crisostomo Ibarra is played by tenor Ronan Ferrer, a faculty member of the Conservatory of Music, and alternately played by vocal performance alumnus Nomher Narito Nival.

“I feel very honored and overwhelmed to be part of this production after performing as a member of the chorus in the 2011 re-staging of the musical version,” Ferrer told the Varsitarian.

Former UST Singers member Jade Rubis Riccio alternately perform with soprano Bianca Camille Lopez as Maria Clara, Ibarra’s ill-fated childhood sweetheart.

Other Thomasian artists in the opera are Stephanie Anne Aguilar and Irene Quiso Ednave, who alternately play the controversial role of Sisa and Jilbert Chua who portrays Ibarra’s mysterious ally Elias.

Music is provided by Noli Symphony Orchestra, a 53-member ensemble led by conductor and Music professor Herminigildo Ranera.

For Music dean Raul Sunico, the re-staging signifies that the interest for the Rizal novel “is still very alive.”

“Noli Me Tangere is the story of Filipinos’ troubled times in the past and the troubled times of the present. The story is alive and vivid, although dated, but it celebrates the Filipino heart,” Sunico said during the opening night last Jan. 28.

Noli Me Tangere the Opera was first re-staged in 1987 at the CCP’s Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo and again in 2014 at Resorts World Manila.

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