Monday, February 7, 2011

163. Playbill: AIDA PROGRAM & PHOTO

Talk about being cultured in the 1920s! Manila Grand Opera House was the center of high culture during the American occupation, the equivalent of today's CCP. It featured Western-style entertainment, showcased Italian artists and local opera productions such as Giuseppe Verdi's "Aida", first performed in Cairo in 1871. It is the story of Aida, an Ethiopian princess who was captured and forced into slavery in Egypt. A military commander, Radames, struggles to choose between his love for her and his loyalty to the Pharaoh. In turn Radames was pursued by the Pharaoh's daughter Amneris, who spurned her advances.

The 1933 Philippine production was headlined by the Manila Chamber Music Society and a stellar cast that included: Mrs. Angela A. de Gonzaga (Aida), Jose Barredo ( Radames), Vicente Vera (Amonasro)--all shown in the photo that was found separately in my flavor-of-the-month Q.C. junkshop. I scored the opera program (pardon the pun) from a Makati paper dealer. Others in the cast: Nelia Manalo (Amneris), Gerado Ayllon (Gran Sacerdote) and Manule Galicano (Amneris' father).

"Aida" has been adapted as a musical by Elton John and Tim Rice in 2000, but Pinoys beat the Broadway cast by 67 years, with their own version of "la grandiosa opera en cuatro actos y siete cuadros" premiering on 21 February 1933.

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