Photo Exclusive: In Rehearsal with the Cast of CARMEN; Laurice Guillen Directs

Photo Exclusive: In Rehearsal with the Cast of CARMEN; Laurice Guillen DirectsWin two tickets to the press preview of Bizet's "Carmen" by visiting BroadwayWorld Philippines on FB.

By Precious Lee Cundangan

Manila, Philippines, October 19, 2012 - Bizet's "Carmen," one of the world's most popular operas, presented by Lyric Opera of the Philippines, Manila Downtown YMCA, and Manila Symphony Orchestra, is set to grace the Philippine stage once again at the St. Cecilia Hall of St. Scholastica's College next week, October 26, 27, and 28.

Veteran Filipino film director and actress Laurice Guillen directs the opera, which tells the story of the downfall of Spanish soldier Don José, who is seduced by the spell of gypsy woman Carmen.

"Carmen" stars sopranos Ana Feleo and Camille Lopez-Molina (Carmen); tenors Abdul Candao and Randy Gilongo (Don Jose); sopranos Margarita Gomez Giannelli and Kay Balajadia-Liggayu (Micaela); and baritones Noel Azcona and Christopher Ong (Escamillo).

Other cast members include Jun Jaranilla (Zuñiga); Greg de Leon (Morales); Jade Riccio and Jamie Sampana (Frasquita); and Tanya Corcuera and Roxy Aldiosa (Mercedes).

Photo Exclusive: In Rehearsal with the Cast of CARMEN; Laurice Guillen DirectsGuillen, who once directed plays at Ateneo de Manila University and Miriam College, has not directed plays nor operas for several decades. "Carmen" is Guillen's return to the theater after so many years directing for film and television.

In an exclusive interview, BroadwayWorld asked Guillen about her vision of "Carmen."

"St. Cecilia Hall is not as big as CCP (Cultural Center of the Philippines), as the St. Cecilia's stage is designed more for concerts. For "Carmen," the stage is minimalistic and stylized because I realized that the strength of this production need not rely so much in the grandeur of sets due to the restrictions of the stage. In the absence of a grand stage and scenery, the production has the basic set, which is the bull ring," she said.

According to Guillen, the main highlight of "Carmen" is the performances of her actors.

"I went for the essence of "Carmen": the themes of faith, passion, love, despair, and jealousy; and tackled these through performance and direction. I opted to clarify that vision by making things simple and by staying simple," she said.

Photo Exclusive: In Rehearsal with the Cast of CARMEN; Laurice Guillen Directs"Having focused on the actors, the cast of "Carmen" underwent rigid and longer rehearsals. In August, the production focused purely in vocals and music rehearsals; at the end of that month, the cast members had to drop books. In September, a combination of workshops for choreography, movement, and actions were interspersed with the rehearsals. This month, "Carmen" sets foot on stage; the rehearsals will still have singing and acting workshops in it though," Guillen added.

The Manila staging of Bizet's "Carmen" is made possible by Alliance Francaise de Manille, Rothman Hotel, Goldland Properties and Development, Orocan, Western Guaranty Corporation, G2 Global Inc Hotels and Resorts, Juan Bautista lee, Nieves Securities Inc., Angping Securities Inc., SeaOil, ChinoyTV, Tulay Chinese-Filipino Digest, Fil-Chi TV, and in part by China Bank, Burlington, San Miguel Beer, and the Chinese Filipino Business Club.

"Carmen" is performed for the benefit of Kaisa Para sa Kaunlaran Inc., Wycliffe Philippines, and Across Ministries.

For tickets and inquiries, contact Ticketworld (632) 891-9999, Alliance Francaise de Manille (632) 895-7585/895-7441 or Manila Downtown YMCA  (632) 242-1995/242-1977.

Photos by Jeffrey Aguiman

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