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Live Opera Makes Its Grand Return at the CCP with 'Turandot'

Catch the monumental Puccini opera from December 9 to 11

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'Turandot' at the Metropolitan Opera

In 2020, the pandemic put a halt live events and the world had to pivot to digital, including theater and live opera. Two years later, the world has slowly (but surely) opened up again—and live opera finally makes its long-awaited return at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) main theater with Puccini's monumental opera, Turandot.


The Puccini opera will have a gala night at the CCP main theater Friday December 9 and a gala matinee on December 11, 2022 at 3 p.m. 

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'Turandot' in Turkey

Zenaida “Nedy” Tantoco, one of the producers representing Rustan’s Group of Companies, said she decided to tie up with the CCP in time for the celebration of the 60th year of the Philippine-Italian Association (PIA). “Presenting Turandot by Puccini would be an appropriate way to further promote Italian arts and culture in the Philippines and in the process raise funds for PIA,” she pointed out.


She added Italian Ambassador Marco Clemente also encouraged her to produce and mount Turandot. “It is just timely that we are commemorating 75 years of diplomatic relations between Italy and the Philippines. The ambassador said he would be happy to co-sponsor two nights of the opera,” Tantoco added. 

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Zenaida "Nedy" R. Tantoco, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Rustan’s, on 'Turandot' in Manila: "It is just timely that we are commemorating 75 years of diplomatic relations between Italy and the Philippines."
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She said CCP president Margie Moran Floirendo told her Turandot is one of her favorite operas. “Margie (Floirendo) was just too happy to support it.”


Tantoco however realizes the high cost of producing opera in this country. “Anywhere in the world, it takes a lot of financial resources to mount a grand opera. The sets, the costumes, the talent fees of artists need gargantuan budgets. I was just lucky to get the support of people who care about arts and culture in the Philippines,” she added


Among those who endorsed and supported the mounting of Turandot were Governor Chavit Singson of LCS Group of Companies, Dr. Jaime Laya of Filipinas Opera Society Foundation, Inc., Mr. Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corporation, Alice Eduardo of Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corporation, TG Limcaoco of Bank of the Philippine Islands, Kevin Tan of Hilton Manila, arts patron Danny Dolor and the Rustan Group of Companies.


Tantoco believes the staging of Turandot is a welcome development in the arts and culture scene. “I am sure the Filipino music lovers will enjoy the Puccini opera. The costumes and sets will dazzle them. Plus, the most popular aria in the opera, Nessun dorma, will be heard live accompanied by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under seasoned Italian conductor Valentino Favoino.”

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Dr. Jaime Laya pointed out that the Filipinas Opera Society Foundation, Inc.(FOSFI) is glad to be a partner of the Philippine-Italian Association and the Cultural Center of the Philippines in yet another opera presentation. 


It will be noted that FOSFI has also co-sponsored another opera production organized by Tantoco together with the CCP, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in January 2020.


The opera foundation was created under the leadership of the late Imelda Ongsiako-Cojuangco, precisely to promote appreciation of opera in the Philippines and to support talented Filipinos.


Dr. Laya added: “We are delighted to join hands with PIA and CCP in this endeavor that brings the rarely staged Puccini opera in Manila. It is also a great opportunity to hear distinguished Korean and Filipino singers in one big opera collaboration.”


CCP President Margie Moran Floirendo said producing Turandot became feasible with tie up with Rustan’s Group of Companies represented by Nedy Tantoco. “Nedy (Tantoco) has been an impressario of opera for sometime now. It became timely because we are observing the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Italy and the Philippines. Moreover, the presentation will also help improve opera appreciation in the country. I got to like opera because of early exposure to it along with my daughters. An opera like Turandot is one of the most powerful of the art forms. It combines music, voice, dance, drama, theater, storytelling and uses massive sets and costumes. It evokes vivid emotions ranging from joy, love, life, loss, death, anger and sadness that often leads to tragedy.”

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'Turandot' in Turkey


The CCP president said it is crucial to collaborate with other sectors and institutions for a monumental project like the Puccini opera. “Let’s face it, the cost of producing opera is mind-boggling. Like funding an orchestra and other resident companies of the CCP, it takes a village to mount a grand opera.”


Italian Ambassador Marco Clemente said the Italian Embassy was just too happy to support the project. “The Italian embassy will provide a substantial financial contribution. Opera was created by a group of Renaissance intellectuals in Florence more than four centuries ago. It is indisputable that the general public still tends to associate the very concept of opera to Italy and to the Italian language. For that reason, it is important for an Italian Ambassador to strongly support live performances of Italian operas especially after the long closure of theaters due the pandemic.”


The Italian ambassador agreed the staging of Turandot is a timely and grand way of celebrating the 75th anniversary of Philippine-Italian diplomatic relations. “I join Filipino opera lovers in anticipating the most popular aria in the Puccini opera, 'Nessun dorma'.”


Italian Director Maestro Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini who also directed Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor at the CCP in 2020 will arrive early November to direct.


Three distinguished Korean singers lead the cast namely tenor James Lee as Calaf, soprano Lilla Lee as Princess Turandot and bass Jinsu Lee as Timur, the exiled Tartar king.


Soprano Rachelle Gerodias sings the role of Liu, Byeong In Park takes the part of Ping the Grand Chancellor with tenor Ivan Nery as Pong, the Grand Intendant. Also in the cast is tenor Nomher Nival as Emperor Altoum and baritone Greg de Leon as Mandarino. 


Maestro Valentino Favoino will lead the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra along with distinguished choral ensembles of the Viva Voce Voice Lab. 


Members of the opera dance ensembles will come from the ranks of Alice Reyes Dance Philippines. 


So why watch 'Turandot' this December?

First of all, it is a grand opera and the scale and spectacle is genuinely dazzling and accessible to Filipino audiences. 


Second, the Puccini opera will see Manila audiences watching the pomp and pageantry in ancient China as imagined by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini.


Last but not the least, Filipino opera fans will once more hear the world’s most famous tenor aria—Nessun dorma—complete with awesome stage sets and local choirs. Indeed Turandot will be worth the wait.


Director of the 2022 Turandot at the CCP is Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini with Prince Sisowath Ravivaddhana Monipong as assistant director. Giovanni Pirandello is lighting designer.


Turandot in Manila was made possible with joint tie up with the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Embassy of Italy, Filipinas Opera Society Foundation, Inc.  and Rustan’s Group of Companies. 


The two-day opera gala is sponsored by LCS Group of Companies, San Miguel Corporation, Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corporation, BPI, Danny Dolor and Hilton Manila.


Ticket prices are as follows: orchestra center P6,000.00 P4,000.00; orchestra sides (right and left) at P5,000.00 P3,000.00; balcony I center P2,500.00 P1,500.00 and sides (right and left) P2,500.00 and P1,500.00.


For ticket reservation and inquiries, get in touch with Lulu Casas at 09175708301; lgcasas@rgoc.com.ph or Maricar Alamodin 09175384508; esalamodin@rgoc.com.ph. You may also purchase tickets at Rustan’s Makati - 8813-3739 Loc 280; Rustan’s Shangrila - 8633-4636 Loc 400; Rustan’s Alabang - 8850-5592; Rustan’s Gateway - 8931-2460. Alternatively, you may also reserve tickets through the CCP Box Office 8832-3704, TicketWorld at 8891-9999, and SM Tickets 8470-2222; 0917-870-2222.     



  

Lead photo courtesy of Metropolitan Opera and Marty Sohl