An invite from A found me sitting surrounded by children at the Aliw Theater last Thursday, watching the Nutcracker for the first time in Manila (I saw it in Hong Kong and in New York several years ago). The Ballet Manila troupe did a good job, Lisa Macuja was as elegant as ever. I saw two flubs that made me wonder if she planned to fire her male dancers but figured it's hard enough to find male dancers around here that she probably will just flog them for good measure. Both times it was near accidents for her, but she has enough poise in her pinky finger to get through them, cheeks frozen in her smile.
If I had a billion US dollars, I'd definitely give Ballet Manila some of the money, primarily to help their set designers with the backdrops. There was a lopsided chandelier, teetering on the edge of falling over the dancers, and the tie-dyed curtains (made to look like, snow? icedrops? something odd and pastel) didn't make me think xmas and wintery at all. The dancers also need new costumes, although the snowdrop tutus looked very pretty and elegant. Of course professional development would be a major investment. Get those ballerinas professionalized so that they don't have to do this part time. Let's finance the Opera company as well. Sigh. So many projects, not enough dough to go around.
The next night, I met up with friends V and C at the main CCP hall for a christmas concert. I didn't know that resident musical director Castillo was not going to conduct. This year, former musical director Ruggieri was back at the baton. I usually see him conducting at the Pen xmas concert, so there was a bit of disappointment since Castillo's more modern, a bit of a renegade. However, I sat and enjoyed the atmosphere, surrounded by Leandro Locsin's modern floating architecture, and the luxury of good music. The first half was taken from several of Tchaikovsky's operas and ballets, Eugene Onegin and the Sleeping Beauty suite (I could hear several people singing along). The second half was filled with christmas carols and a strangely out of place Filipino song that was played like we were in a '70's disco lounge. I zoned out and mentally ticked off my chores for the weekend.
The final Tchaikovsky note came last night, watching the BBC documentary on up and coming violinist Niccola Bennedetti (spelling?). At 18, she's got the chops, the virtuoso, and is smouldering and sexy. She makes listening and attending violin concertos far more visually appealing. However, she is still a musician. One of the pieces she rehearsed and performed during the docu was a Tchaikovsky concerto, one of his harder pieces. I believe she recorded it for one of her albums.
I have the urge to go and play the 1812 ... boom!