Noli Me Tangere is my all-time favorite literary masterpiece after we dissected El Filibusterismo (its sequel) in senior high school. I guess that’s how superb my Filipino teacher was in my junior year. I even went wholeheartedly, when she required the class to see the musical which, she would say after, had a lot of inaccuracies it was such a waste. Last Sunday, I came to see Noli Me Tangere The Opera, and it was such an experience to see Crisostomo Ibarra and Maria Clara come to life in the form of opera singers.
I’m not gonna lie, I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t a musical, which I am a fan of. I would very much love to hear how the actors would deliver the romantic dialogues in Ang Suyuan Sa Isang Azotea in non-operatic voices. I’d love to hear Salome’s voice come to life when she said, “Tell me how you passed the day… hearing it from your lips will please me so much as though I have been with you,” to Elias (but of course this might not be included because it’s an omitted chapter). Oh yes, I love these scenes because I am a hopeless romantic, but I’d also love to jump off my seat as Padre Damaso successfully provoked Crisostomo into pointing him the knife, causing the latter to be ex-communicado.
Though I prefer to see and hear these scenes in a non-operatic way, I must say there were scenes that gave me complete goosebumps. I felt Padre Damaso’s fatherly anguish when Maria Clara asked him to break her engagement with Linares and allow her to be a nun, else she wanted to die (Padre Damaso Explains). It was as heartbreaking as I expected it to be, just like how my Filipino teacher described it to the class so many years ago, knowing what happened beyond the towering walls of the nunnery. And Sisa. How can I ever unsee that performance (Noche Buena). That chasing between Basilio and his mother, how his mother (Sisa) hummed in that operatic voice that made everyone who heard it understand there are fears and pain, loneliness and emptiness so deep and powerful they cannot be put into words. It made me cry… well, almost.
Too bad it was only performed for the weekend (from March 8-10). But I’m glad that I decided to see it despite my cravings for a musical. A timeless classic that contains a bit of every life aspect, Noli Me Tangere deserves another kind art form that will make people remember.