In an effort to make opera more accessible to the modern audience while remaining true to the original score, Philippine Opera Company and the Cultural Center of the Philippines has transported Giacomo Pucinni’s “La Boheme” to a modern-day gathering of young independent artists in Manila in search of their rightful place under the sun. Rodolfo is now an indie art director and Mimi a struggling artist on the big screen.
The storyline is simple enough: Mimi and Rodolfo find love, lose love and then find love again at the end of the play, right before Mimi dies. A second storyline involves the relationship between Marcello, a bohemian writer, and Musetta, a vivacious redhead who makes a living by feeding off of her sugar daddy. Rodolfo and Marcello are supported by their roommates, a professor named Colline and a musician named Schaunard. The storyline might sound familiar to anyone who knows “Rent,” (winner of the 1996 Pulitzer/Tony–award winning musical), which was based on “La Boheme.”
The story also bears a striking resemblance to “Moulin Rouge.” And much like “Moulin Rouge,” the plot is not what makes this production worth seeing--instead, it is the beautiful music and stunning visuals that make this production a stand \out. Puccini's score is sung in Italian by classically trained opera singers. The leads are played by rotating casts. there are two Mimis, three Rodolfos, two Marcellos, and two Musettas.
Playing the lead roles are tenors Juan Alberto Gaerlan, Dondi Ong and Gary del Rosario, who sang Parpignol in the Rolando Tinio version of “Boheme” at the CCP in the 1990s and is presently with the Seattle Opera after a long stint with Cleveland Opera as Rodolfo. Mimi will be performed by Jennifer Uy, a finalist in the 2001 Maria Callas Opera Grand Prix in Athens, Greece, wherein she worked one-on-one with Dame Joan Sutherland and Gundula Janowitz. Alternating with her as Mimi is Maribel Miguel, who is making her opera debut.
Sopranos Ana Feleo (2007 Aliw Awardee and fresh from The Juilliard School of Music) and Elaine Lee (Bachelor of Music graduate in Opera Performance at the University of British Columbia) play Musetta. Baritones Lawrence Jatayna (several productions with Singapore Lyric Opera) and Jesus Baang (Singapore Lyric Opera) play Marcello, while Joseleo Logdat and John Ocampos plays Colline and Schaunard, respectively.
Director Floy Quintos directs, with sets by Jo Tecson, a high-tech video design by Furball and lighting design by Monino Duque. Sharing the stage is the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of international conductor Helen Quach (assistant conductor of Leonard Bernstein).
“La Boheme” Manila is set to open on October 3 with a cocktail gala at 8 p.m., October 4 at 8 p.m., and a 3 p.m. matinee on October 5 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Main Theater.
Other upcoming and equally exciting productions of the Philippine Opera Company (POC) include Mozart’s “Magic Flute” and Terence McNally’s Tony-award winning play, “Master Class,” on the life-story of Maria Callas as portrayed by highly-respected movie actress Cherie Gil.
For tickets, block sales, sponsorship and other information, call 8928786 or visit www.philippineopera company.com. Tickets are also available at all TicketWorld outlets 8919999.