MANILA -- Ballet Manila (BM) closes its 22nd performance season with the perfect tribute to the month of love – a restaging of its longest running concert series, "Ballet & Ballads," featuring top balladeer and musical theater artist Christian Bautista.
“The show marks the 20th year of 'Ballet & Ballads' so we really gave careful thought on who our guest balladeer should be – and Christian was a unanimous choice,” says BM artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde.
“Although it’s our first time to work with Christian, I’ve seen him perform a few times already so I know how talented he is. I’ve also heard many good things about him from fellow artists. Hopefully, this initial venture will be the first of many projects together. With Christian’s star power as a musical artist and BM’s growing network of regional alliances, 'Ballet & Ballads' is a production that we can easily bring around key cities of Asia and beyond.”
Launched in 1998, the Ballet & Ballads series was the brainchild of Lisa’s husband, Manila Broadcasting Company chairman Fred J. Elizalde. Wishing to support the prima ballerina’s mission of bringing ballet to the people, he combined the resources of MBC and BM to come up with a unique roadshow that has seen over 200 successful performances nationwide.
“His idea was to create a touring concert that combined the magic of classical ballet with the mass appeal of pop music in a colorful and exciting production that’s meant to draw a larger and younger crowd,” explains Lisa.
“Since then, 'Ballet & Ballads' has been performed to countless spectators not only in theaters but also in schools, shopping malls and other non-traditional venues all over the Philippines as part of BM’s outreach and audience development programs.
“It also gave the company the chance to reach new audiences by collaborating with some of country’s most famous musical artists like Basil Valdez, Ariel Rivera, Janno Gibbs, Jaya, Nyoy Volante, Lani Misalucha, Toni Gonzaga, Luke Mejares, Bugoy Drilon, and Side A Band, to name a few.”
According to Lisa, "Ballet & Ballads" is also the perfect venue for launching new contemporary pieces that can be performed alongside classical favorites. For its 20th anniversary production, two outstanding choreographies are poised to make their world premiere – "Aria" by Martin Lawrance and "El Adwa" by Bam Damian -- along with brand new works by resident choreographers Gerardo Francisco, Jonathan Janolo, Osias Barroso, and Lisa herself.
"Aria" is the fourth major work created by British choreographer Martin Lawrance for Ballet Manila. Expected to be the centerpiece of the upcoming production, "Aria" showcases 12 dancers who portray the complexities and subtleties of individuals in different stages of a relationship, set to a dramatic score that combines music from Verdi, Bizet, and Puccini, with costumes designed by Jeffrey Rogador.
“It (Aria) is evocative, sinister,” describes Martin. “It’s ballet; it’s theater. It will be fascinating!”
“Staging incredible new choreographies to a carefully selected repertoire of pop songs, theater staples, and arias sung by our guest artists to the music of a live orchestra will certainly provide the audience with a wide variety of entertainment,” Lisa points out.
“In the end, it’s really about the audience and giving them what they will enjoy and would love to come back to. And that has always been the secret behind the staying power of 'Ballet & Ballads.' Twenty years strong but always fresh, always new, and always an unforgettable experience!”
"Ballet & Ballads" also features guest artists from the Klassikal Music Foundation: baritone Andrew Fernando, sopranos Jade Riccio and Stephanie Aguilar, mezzo soprano Krissan Manikan Tan, tenor Leo Angelo Lanuza, and the very special participation of KMF founder and tenor, Dr. George T. Yang.
The ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra provides symphonic delight under the baton of Maestro Joshua Dos Santos.
"Ballet & Ballads" goes onstage at 6 p.m. on February 10 and 17, and matinees at 3 p.m. on February 11 and 18 at the Aliw Theater.