Ballet Manila marks end of roller-coaster season with a double bill


    UNCONVENTIONAL, dramatic, sensational – those are just some of the words to describe Ballet Manila’s 24th performance season finale that will feature a combination of ballet, opera, and other hardcore classic elements.

    As a fitting end to the season, Ballet Manila CEO and artistic director Lisa Macuja Elizalde is staging two powerful productions with the world premieres of Carmina Burana and La Traviata. “We wanted to close our 24th season with a bang,” said Macuja Elizalde.

    Carmina Burana is a scenic cantata based on a series of 13th-century songs, while La Traviata is an Italian opera that tells the ill-fated story of a beautiful young courtesan wasting away from tuberculosis and her relationship with a young bourgeois from a provincial family. These timeless works of art will be seen in new light with Ballet Manila’s sophisticated dancing and creativity.

    Even though both shows are not normally staged as ballet productions, Rudy de Dios, a former Ballet Manila principal dancer, painstakingly conceptualized and choreographed the ballet version of Carmina Burana, while Macuja Elizalde and her co-artistic director Osias Barroso worked on La Traviata.

    “Working on this show was not easy. I think the most difficult part happens inside my head – creating the story, casting, choosing the music, writing the libretto. But I find myself working with the most inspiring dancers who make the creative process pure joy and that makes it easier,” said Macuja Elizalde.

    With La Traviata being one of her favorite operas of all time, Macuja Elizalde aimed at giving her audience a profound impression of the show; the same way it touched her when she first saw it in Russia. “I listened to the complete opera many times and the hardest part was selecting the arias I incorporated to tell the story in a concise and clear version.

    My La Traviata is 42 minutes long, but I think the story-telling is complete,” she said.

    De Dios, on the other hand, delved into the lyrical content of Carmina Burana to fully grasp to emotions and message of the cantata. Since Carmina Burana does not have a direct storyline to follow, de Dios interpreted the songs of the cantata to tell a story about spiritual warfare.

    “I think, at first, the public will be wary to attend, maybe even fearful knowing that opera and ballet are just about as ‘elitist’ as you can get among the performing arts,” said Macuja Elizalde. “But I think that they should try. The story-telling is very clear. They are going to get it, and leave the theater thoroughly moved, maybe even in tears.”

    Ballet Manila will captivate its audience with Carmina Burana and La Traviata, the fitting finale of its 24th performance seasonon March 7 at 6:00 p.m. and March 8 at 3:00 p.m. at the Samsung Hall, SM Aura Premiere, Bonifacio Global City.