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Italian tenor, Korean diva excited to perform in Puccini’s ‘Turandot’ in Manila

“I am excited to be part of ‘Turandot’ in Manila,” said Italian tenor Alessandro Liberatore, who has arrived for the staging of Puccini’s opera on Dec. 9 and 11 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Main Theater. Liberatore, who is to sing Calaf, said he was happy to be singing in Manila where Italian opera greats...

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‘Anak Datu’ preserves cultural memory through contradiction

You really wouldn’t be able to tell based solely on its colorful, toy-themed promotional materials, but Tanghalang Pilipino’s “Anak Datu” is a work of proud defiance that speaks to today’s concerns of historical denialism in a direct, patient, and intelligent way.  The play, written by Rody Vera, tells several tales about Muslim Mindanao all at once—including that of the original short story by National Artist Abdulmari Imao; anecdotes about real-life tragedies...

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Stage actor-turned-businessman comes full circle

Ignacio Gimenez who? It’s been seven years since I first heard that name—a donor for a theater to be constructed on the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) grounds. Former CCP vice president and artistic director Chris Millado kept on harping on the edifice before and during the coronavirus pandemic, and continued to push for...

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‘Anak Datu’ untangles web of memory, myth and history

Where does history end and myth begin? How does memory, individual and collective, influence and possibly correct the narration of a people’s history?   These questions are doubly important today, in an era when social media and other digital platforms tend to lump the critical verification of facts with unthinking chismis (gossip). Tanghalang Pilipino’s latest production,...

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The exactness of Agnes

The rehearsal hall turns tense and the dancers stand still as Agnes Locsin critiques their execution of the steps. She slowly rises, touching her abdomen as she points to the exact spot where—and how—they must lift in order to deliver the right intensity and angle that the step requires. It’s clear that she has mastered...

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‘Mula sa Buwan’ switches its focus from past to future

It’s easy to get “Cyrano de Bergerac” wrong. If you overstate its romance and its inherently ridiculous premise, this story of a cartoonishly long-nosed soldier helping a young cadet woo the woman they both love can come off as frivolous. To an extent, this is how I felt about the 2016 production of “Mula sa...

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Live theater, digital interaction educate teens on drinking issue

Filipinos consume an average of seven liters of alcohol every year, according to the World Population Review.  While that might appear manageable to many, the Philippine College of Physicians recently presented numbers sufficient to give Filipino parents a nightmare: About 70% of students had their first taste of alcohol at age 14, and many of...

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The extraordinary Cherie Gil

Cherie Gil came across in varying ways—imperious and intimidating; funny, warm and open; beguiling and sexy.  Writing this, thinking about her and my time with her, I realize I probably really knew only one facet of a woman I love dearly and hold in great esteem. I’m certain her family, her barkada (the women—and man—who I fondly...

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‘Mula sa Buwan’: In the spirit of defiance

When “Mula sa Buwan” returns on Aug. 26 at Samsung Performing Arts Theater in Circuit Makati, it will not be the same creature that played to packed houses every performance four years ago.  In turning Edmond Rostand’s “Cyrano de Bergerac” and Francisco “Soc” Rodrigo’s Filipino translation of that play into a musical, director and co-creator...