The opera is based on the novel Noli Me Tangere by Philippine national hero Dr José Rizal. A Filipino nationalist and medical doctor, Rizal conceived of the idea of writing the novel after reading Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Published in Spanish in Berlin in 1887, the novel exposes the ills of society, the oppression of Spanish rule and atrocities committed in the name of the Church. Viewed as a subversive for his belief in Philippine self-government, Rizal was executed by the Spaniards in 1896. His execution is cited as one of the causes of the Philippine Revolution and his execution is marked annually as Rizal Day, a national Philippine holiday. The Filipino American Council of Greater Chicago’s headquarters in Lakeview is named for him as well as a monument that was built in front of Weiss Memorial Hospital along the picturesque landscape in Lakeshore Drive.
The staging of the opera coincides with the celebration in the Philippines, through the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) of de Leon's 100th Birth Centennial (May 1, 1912- May 1, 2012). Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III signed Proclamation No. 283, declaring May 1, 2012 to April 30, 2013 as the Centennial Year of National Artist for Music Felipe Padilla de Leon. Likewise, the House of Representatives has issued for the same purpose House Joint Resolution No. 25, introduced by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., Congressman Neptali M. Gonzales II, Congressman Edcel C. Lagman, Congressman Salvador H. Escudero III, and Congressman Rodolfo W. Antonino.Composer, conductor, scholar and cultural educator Felipe Padilla de Leon launched his calling at a time of passionate striving for nationhood during the Commonwealth period, Japanese occupation and the post-war Philippine Republic, he stood out most prominently as the champion of Filipino cultural dignity and identity. He always depicted what is noble, exalted and heroic in the Filipino, taking as his subjects the momentous events and symbols in our history and celebrated their deepest meanings through music.
De Leon wrote the first full-length Filipino opera based on Dr. Jose Rizal’s novel of social realism, “Noli Me Tangere” (1957), with libretto by another National Artist, sculptor-linguist-Filipinist scholar Guillermo Tolentino.
Sung in Tagalog with English supertitles. The performance will run approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes, including one intermission.
About the cast and the opera company: http://www.diversitythroughthearts.org/index.php/opera-world-premier
For ticket information, please call the Harris Theater at 312.334.7777 or visit www.harristheaterchicago.org