For a has-been that never was a Prima Ballerina, a mezzo-soprano that never became a diva, and a thespian that is in a seemingly endless hiatus, being a part of the audience of the 7th of December 2012 production of RAMA HARI was sort of a NIRVANA.
The RAMAYANA Myth or Legend has always fascinated my feeble mind. The "after world" had always this connection with the "present world". Their spirits/avatars and their incarnations or re-incarnated humans have this "solid connection.
I am a CHRISTIAN, but this epic made me read
Bhagavad Gita literature.
I have seen these productions:
Ramaya: The Epic(2010)
Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama (1998 Japanese version)
Rama Hari 1983 production With Ms. Jacqui Magno and Mr. Ric Segretto
I would have loved to see how Ms. Kuh Ledesma, who incidentally was also born on the 16th of March, would have portrayed the role of Sita, but I would have to content myself with the excerpts I have heard her sing live and on TV. I was also fortunate to be able to watch these two great performers in their other spectacular live performances...but wait, I'm digressing already.
Dad had to cancel our weekend in Bicol because he was supposed to have these meetings with several bigwigs, but a couple of those meetings got cancelled. Instead of sulking, dad made us choose between "foreign" acts, but mom and I were able to convince him to watch RAMA HARI.
Early in the morning of the 30th of November, we happily purchased our tickets from the very unassuming Executive Director, Jennifer Lee-Bonto. As we were about to purchase the tickets, we told her that we wanted to see Karylle and Christian Bautista(I'm sure with Kalila Aguilos' very, very angelic voice, we would enjoy a night of her performance too)'s portrayals. That was dad's deal. Karylle and Christian B or nothing. He thinks Karylle deserves to let her star shine.
Deep inside me, I was very grateful because Karylle and Christian B are the talents of Carlo Orosa and I told Jen(feeling close, haha) that.
"Are you friends?"
After a few minutes of small talk, we could hardly wait for December 7.
During the 20-minute interval dad thanked us. "I love the dances..." At the lobby he told us, "It's a given that the singers are great, but since the last time I've to been to a Ballet Philippines production the dancers have...what is that they say? Ah, the dancers have leveled-up!"
The music created by Maestro Ryan Cayabyab lifted different sorts of emotions:Happy, sad, haunted, defeated, frustrated, devastated, tempted, jubilant, et cetera, et cetera.
According to the Ramayana books, the word "rape" didn't literally mean physically/sexually assaulted, but kidnapped...carried off...in its archaic sense. Yet, the very artistic depiction/portrayal of the RAPE of SITA in the "literal" sense, was done in good taste.
If you parents are worried about your little kids, not unless your kids have already been robbed of their innocence, I can assure you that they would not "get it" immediately. So unless they are disturbed or would ask you why this and that "happened", please don't explain. It's just like the animated version of THE LION KING, the subliminal messages are for adults. Don't worry about the lyrics. National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera was very "careful". There are lot of innuendos, but nothing direct. Rolando Tinio's translation was a bit on the naughty side, but if you're so enthralled with the music, the dances, the songs, the expressions and everything else, you would simply just relax and enjoy the show.
I would love to name them all one-by-one, but because the makeup artists were so good, not all of their faces were decipherable.
Although everyone was great(The Choreographer, The Composer, The Librettist, The MSO, The UPCC, The Company, The Soloists, The Narrator/Singers et al) Let me TRY to enumerate the laudable performances:
1. Maharajah Dasaratha's anguish when Melanie Ligot's voice haunted him and the dancer who played Kaikeyi was reminding him of his promise...I felt his pain(the dancing Dasaratha).
2. The reluctance of Bharatha as played by Cyril Aran Fallar(at least, he looked like Cyril...I'm really not sure)
3. As aforementioned, the RAPE of SITA was done in good taste
4. The mutilation(dance and song) of Soorpanakha. We almost gave them a standing ovation, but had to control ourselves.
5. The golden deer...she was great.
6. The dancing Sita and Jean Marc Cordero's dances were SUPERB!
7. Brezhnev Larlar, Melanie Ligot, Amparo Sieterales: Bravo, bravo!
8. ROBERT SENA! (Speechless!)
9. Christian B and Karylle(Cheers! Cheers!) Your songs and narration(well, except maybe for pronouncing Soorpanakha in a perfect rhythm...but hey, I cannot even say her name myself) were superbly executed. ;-)
Let's support the arts.
Our critically and internationally acclaimed artists need not seek greener pastures...