The never ending relevance of ‘Noli Me Tangere’

If our National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal, were reincarnated today, I cannot help but wonder, would he be more inspired to make and write new novels knowing the fact that corruption, greed and lust for power, the societal ills depicted during his time in the two novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, are now of gargantuan proportions?

The crushed dreams of Crisostomo Ibarra, the tragedies of Elias, Sisa and Maria Clara, the folly of Dona Victorina, the misfortunes of Basilio and Crispin, the dramatic demise of Padre Damaso, all these characters, in this season of the millennials, we intermingle and interact with, read and watch about them, on a daily basis.

That is, the showing of Noli Me Tangere, The Opera comes at the most opportune time and yes, we don’t have to state the obvious.

The never ending relevance of ‘Noli Me Tangere’
 A scene from 'Noli Me Tangere The Opera' (photo from the Broadway World)
Based on Rizal’s novel of the same name, this Stellar opera was written by National Artist for Music Felipe de Leon (music) and National Artist for Sculpture Guillermo Tolentino (book). Previous incarnations of the opera have been staged at the Far Eastern University (1957), the CCP (1987), and Resorts World Manila (2014), the CCP (2017) and now is back for a limited engagement from March 8 to 10 at the CCP’s Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo once more.

CCP and J&S Productions Inc., and directed by Jerry Sibal (who also serves as set and costume designer), are bringing the opera with changes in the sets, lighting, and some of the costumes. 

During the press conference held recently at the Ilustrado in Intramuros,  Manila,  arias of Maria Clara: Kay Tamis ng Buhay (Nerissa De Juan), Ibarra : Isangguni (Ivan Nicolo Nery), Elias : Iwi kong Buhay (Joseleo Logdat). Sisa: Awit Ng Gabi Ni Sisa (Alison Cervantes), Padre Damaso: Ngayon Kailan Pa Man (Nils Flores), and a duet of Ibarra at Maria Clara: Lupang Pangako (Nomher Nival and Bianca Camille Lopez) were performed and received enthusiastically by media members in attendance.

Some observations, as one listens attentively to the lyrics of the arias and duet, something inside you will be stirred. Every word and line pulls the heart strings. What were showcase are not the easiest to perform since each arias was so structured like an aria from an Italian opera. When you hear and experience Tagalog words sung as an opera, it can no longer be denied that it is at par with the other romantic languages like French, Italian and Spanish,

Aside from those who performed during the press conference, cast members include Nicola Peralejo, and Bernadette Mamauag as Sisa, Nazer Salcedo, Greg De Leon, and Joseleo Lodgat as Elias, Nils Flores and Ronnie Abarquez (who also alternates as Kapitan Tiyago) as Padre Damaso, and Lawrence Roxas as Kapitan Tiyago. Noel Comia Jr. and Mari Yapjoco also reprise their role as Basilio, while Santino Juan Santiago reprises his role as Crispin.

Completing the cast are Nenen Espina (Doña Victorina), Oliver Pineda (Tenyente Guevarra), Anna Migallos (Sinang), Micah Galang (Andeng), Ma. Krissan Tan (Tiya Isabel), Timothy Racho (Alferez), Ruzzel Clemeno (Don Filipo), Tomas Virtucio Jr. (Albino), and Rare Columna (Victoria).

An opera in three acts, the production follows the story of Juan Crisostomo Ibarra, who returns to the Philippines after pursuing scholarly studies in Europe. He plans to open up a school and marry Maria Clara, his betrothed. However, parish priest Padre Damaso, the archenemy of the Ibarras, is out to hinder Crisostomo’s plans, which creates a dramatic storyline of forbidden love, betrayal, and revenge.

J&S Productions Inc. was founded on May 15, 2014 by New York-based art enthusiasts and philanthropists Jerry Sibal and Edwin Josue. Jose Jeffrey Camanag acts as assistant director.

Whether as a musical, drama or opera, the novel of Dr. Jose Rizal continues to be relevant. Who would have thought that after so many years, the societal cancer continues and we really need to get our acts together, to finally defeat and put a stop to this reign of greed.  

For tickets, call J&S Productions at 0947-1681714/ (02) 998-2356, or the CCP Box Office at 832-3704/06.

Topics: Noli Me Tangere , Philippine National Hero , Dr. Jose Rizal , El Filibusterismo
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