Alice Eduardo proved once again how much she loves art, including performance art, through the support she extended for the staging of the grand opera ‘Turandot’ by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini in Manila. Zenaida Tantoco, Chairman and CEO of Rustan’s Group of Companies, who is “Nedy” to her closest friends and allies, is one of the producers.
Rustan’s collaborates with the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) partly to commemorate the 60th foundation of the Philippine-Italian Association (PIA). Besides raising funds for the Association, the staging of ‘Turandot’ will further promote a deeper appreciation of Italian art and culture among the Filipino audience.
‘Turandot’ was also co-sponsored by Marco Clemente, Italian ambassador to the Philippines. Clemente comments on how the viewing public relates opera with Italy and its language despite the creation of opera in Florence four centuries ago by the Renaissance intellectuals, making it instrumental to the embassy to support performances of various Italian operas anywhere in the world. This is especially true after the lengthy closures of theaters due to the coronavirus pandemic. He encouraged Tantoco to produce the said opera to commemorate the 75 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
CCP president Margie Moran Floirendo could not be happier since ‘Turandot’ is one of her favorite operas. She praised how operas like Puccini’s can be a powerful art form, evoking a range of emotions throughout the performance. ‘Turandot’ is a tale of a princess who poses three riddles to any prince who desires to win her heart. Those who are unsuccessful will meet their demise. The opera seamlessly blends voice, song, dance, drama, and storytelling. Not to mention the outstanding artists, vivid costumes, and gigantic sets.
Seeking the help of Alice Eduardo, Ramon Ang, and more
Tantoco is not new to producing operas. Hence, she knows the massive budget it needs to mount such productions. Tantoco tapped the support of the country’s business tycoons – from Alice Eduardo of Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corporation to Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corporation. Other influential figures behind the production include Governor Chavit Singson (LCS Group of Companies), Kevin Tan (Hilton Manila), TG Limcaoco (Bank of the Philippine Islands), and Dr. Jaime Laya (Filipinas Opera Society Foundation, Inc.). Arts patron Danny Dolor also lent a helping hand. The embassy offers a substantial financial contribution as well.
Alice Eduardo as an art connoisseur
Alice Eduardo is an art collector herself. Her home is the envy of every collector – like a canvas painted intricately. From Juan Luna to Jose Joya, Vicente Manansala, and Ben Cabrera, Alice Eduardo has pieces from the greatest Filipino artists. However, her favorite painting has to be the Anita Magsaysay-Ho displayed in the dining room. Alice Eduardo admires the central message of women empowerment in her artworks. She also loves how Magsaysay-Ho incorporates and blends hues, making her works more translucent and luminous – they seem to glow from afar. Alice Eduardo also has a vast collection of sculptures, antique vases, jars, and pots. With this in mind, it is not surprising that Alice Eduardo welcomes the opportunity to help fellow art connoisseurs like Tantoco.
The opera’s most popular aria, Nessum dorma, is played live. The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra accompanies the live rendition. In addition, the production includes distinguished choral ensembles from Viva Voce Voice Lab and dance ensembles from Alice Reyes Dance Philippines. Italian conductor Valentino Favoino supervises the said part. Nonetheless, ‘Turandot’ is directed by Italian maestro Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini, with Sisowath Ravivaddhana Monipong and Giovanni Pirandello as the assistant director and lighting designer, respectively.
Puccini’s ‘Turandot’ marks a monumental return of live operas in the country, particularly in the CCP, after two long years. Nonetheless, the production is also the last to be staged before CCP is closed for a three-year renovation.
The gala night was held at the main theater on December 9, while the gala matinee on December 11 at 3 pm.