Ochanine plays the flute, announces PPO’s next season/ The Mikado: Delightful!

SUNDRY STROKES - The Philippine Star

PPO music director-conductor Olivier Ochanine charmed media with his unassuming, down-to-earth manner, then surprised them with a masterful rendition of a Concertino on the flute. The formidable program, organized by Irene Rada, next featured a uniquely enchanting bamboo ensemble, its lovely women members’ dancing as they struck their instruments. Adolfo Mendoza performed on the bassoon.

A letter written by Ochanine read in part: “The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra just celebrated its 40th year as the country’s leading orchestra and as we head toward the next decade and our 50-year milestone, we look forward to showcasing innovations and a more contemporary branding of the orchestra.

“Particularly exciting to me is our new series of concerts at Rizal Park called “Out of the Box’; everyone will hear for free a wide array of music and stellar collaborations between local schools and the PPO, and given a chance to learn more about music and its ability to touch us in a meaningful, unique manner.”

Forthwith, the Maestro announced: On Sept. 6, the PPO opens the season with “Guzman and Pathetique” led by him and the Flute Concerto in D Major, Liszt’s Les Preludes and Tchaikowsky’s Pathetique.

On Oct. 11, associate conductor Herminigildo Ranera leads the PPO in Filipino works, Milhaud’s jazzy La Creation du Monde and Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances. On Nov. 11, Israeli Yossi Reshef plays Schumann’s Piano Concerto. Wagner’s Overtures to The Flying Dutchman and to Rienzi will mark his 200th birth year. On Dec. 13, Japanese Yoshikazu Fukumura conducts works by Beethoven, Saint-Saens and De Falla. Ray Wang plays Saint-Saens Cello Concerto. (Program for 2014 will be announced later.)

CCP V-P Chris Millado spoke briefly.

*      *      *

As presented by the Young Artists Series of the Philippine Opera Company, “The Mikado”, the two-act comic opera of Gilbert and Sullivan was a much abbreviated and simplified version of the original.

The setting of the first act is Koko’s palace; that of the second, his garden. A small sala with a raised U-shaped platform combined the two settings; a plant at center presumably suggested the garden.

Described as “a blend of musical and verbal drollery”, the opera set in Japan has a mixed-up plat involving disguises, a threatened execution, a threatened burial of a live bride-to-be, aborted marriages – all these somehow ending merrily.

Owing to budgetary constraints, there were no schoolgirls, nobles, guards and coolies, no chorus of ladies and gentlemen. An excellent pianist, rather than an orchestra, accompanied the singers.

The eccentric description of two of the characters already tickled the risibilities: KoKo, Lord High Executioner of Titipu and Pooh-Ba, Lord High Everything Else.

All facets of the production were of a piece: The colorful, imaginatively Japanese costumes and hairstyle of the women, the exaggerated facial make-up of the men stressing the humor underlying the comedy, and not the least, the select cast which acted and sang brilliantly, eliciting laughter as they spoke or sang with sparkling gusto and spirited movement.

Neither the invitation nor the program specified the role of each character. Only identifiable to this viewer were mezzo-soprano Clarissa Ocampo who memorably portrayed Yum Yum while hotly pursued by both KoKo and Nanki-Poo, and Nomer Son, utterly convincing as actor, forceful and arresting as singer.

The opera also starred Al Gatmaitan, Cris Go, of course Karla Gutierrez, Jun Ofrasio, Jon Vera Perez, Paulina Yeung and Roden Araneta.

The keenly perceptive direction of Floy Quintos pervaded. However, the players could not do full justice to their roles, each hampered with a score in hand from which he/she read, singing or speaking.

At one point, the lights went off, plunging the stage in darkness, with three flashlights providing inadequate illumination. Yet the players audaciously and bravely carried on without a hitch. What real troupers!

Despite the reading from scores, the opera was highly delightful and amusing.











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