Antoni Mendezona Sings “Awit ng Gabi ni Sisa” from the Opera Noli Me Tangere

Music by Felipe de Leon, libretto by Guillermo Tolentino. Noli Me Tangere is based on Dr. Jose Rizal’s 1887 classic novel of the same name. It follows the story of Juan Crisóstomo Ibarra y Magsalin, who returns home to the Philippines after pursuing scholarly studies in Europe. He plans to open a school and marry his sweetheart, Maria Clara (where we get the name of the dress I’d love to make and wear again), but Padre Damaso, arch-enemy of the Ibarras, sets out to thwart Crisostomo’s plans, creating the dramatic—and very operatic—storyline of forbidden love, betrayal, and revenge. “Awit ng Gabi ni Sisa” is one of the great soprano mad scenes in opera.

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I believe this is from the University of the Philippines production in 2011. (Somebody set me straight if it’s not.) Info on Cebuana coloratura Mendezona can be found at her website here.

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Joyce DiDonato and Alice Coote In Jules Massenet’s Opera La Cendrillon At the Met, 2018

Cheshire-born Alice Coote and Kansan Joyce DiDonato, both lyric mezzos, play Prince Charming and Cinderella in The Met’s production of Massenet’s whimsical opera.

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Actor/director Fiona Shaw’s production of La Cendrillon makes its Glynbourne Festival debut in August, 2019, conducted by John Wilson, with Australian-American soprano Danielle de Niese in the title role. (Later on in the year De Niese will be starring, with Kelsey Grammer, in the first West End staging of Man of La Mancha in fifty-three years, produced by the man who was the first to bring me to climax when I was 18.)

Porgy and Bess at the English National Opera, Conducted by John Wilson, Fall 2018

In a podcast interview for the English National Opera, this is what my bonny had to say:

“There are very few pieces I can say I’ve been waiting all my life to conduct, and this is one of them. In my, kind of, college years or whenever that was, I got the Simon Rattle LP and I kind of wore out the groove of those records and had to buy ‘em on CD…”

Of course it’s known for the hit tunes that have been extracted from it, but it’s much more than that… And I would even say that the most interesting music in the opera is the ariosos, the small pieces which link everything together and the incidental music… It’s really very ambitious… It’s George Gershwin at his most inventive, and as Gershwin was arguably the greatest tunesmith of the twentieth century, you’re looking at melodic material from the very very top drawer…”

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Said The Spectator: “The thrill of musical recognition as the curtain rises on an unfamiliar world is replaced by astonishment at the dramatic instinct that allows Gershwin to expend a melody like that before his story has even started, in the certain knowledge that what follows can, and absolutely will, live up to what for any composer other than Gershwin would be a once-in-a-lifetime inspiration…

“Director James Robinson has grasped two essentials: firstly, that with an opera which is still far from being a repertoire piece, it doesn’t pay to muck about with the setting and spirit…

“Or perhaps it’s just the generosity and compassion of Gershwin’s score, and the alternating dazzle and tenderness of the ENO orchestra under John Wilson.

All that energy, all that style and all that loving but unobtrusive care for the music’s inner voices merely served what Wilson has always insisted is his overriding artistic goal: to find a sound that lets the music speak.

Porgy and Bess at the London Coliseum, produced by the English National Opera, closes with a matinee on the 17th.

Tunesmith. Sheesh.

The Fire-Maker’s Daughter, a Chamber Opera Based on Philip Pullman’s Book, Composed by David Bruce with a Libretto by Glyn Maxwell

I knew Pullman only from his trilogy His Dark Materials, but this chamber opera, which was originally a children’s play by Philip Pullman, looks fantastic and the music is just scrumptious.

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The Royal Opera House commissioned from London-based composer David Bruce an opera version of Pullman’s story in 2013 and revived it in 2015 for their family Christmas show, which sounds like perfect programming. That’s London-born soprano Mary Bevan in the title role.