Art/Style/Travel Diaries

On 9th staging, Carmina Burana still dazzles

'Our youth would never know the difference between watching performances on YouTube and being in the theater....If we deprive them of this, that would be a very sad day' – Alice Reyes

Carmina Burana
Scene from 'Carmina Burana': Simply intoxicating
Carmina Burana

Scene from Alice Reyes’ ‘Dugso’ with music by National Artist Ramon Santos
(Photos from the Alice Reyes Dance Philippines posts)

Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana—which evolved into a dazzling theater piece by National Artist Alice Reyes in 1974—had its ninth re-staging June 14 and 15 at Samsung Theater at Circuit Makati.

It received a euphoric audience reaction Friday night and had more ecstatic receptions at its matinee and evening performances on Saturday.

‘Carmina Burana’ soloist baritone Byeong In Park with 2024 CCP Gawad Awardee Julie Lluch and her brother Pacificador Lluch Jr. and his wife Madelyn (contributed photo)

The big bonus was, all three shows featured the live performances of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under Herminigildo Ranera and of excellent soloists Lara Maigue (soprano) and Byeong In Park (baritone).

The choral support (the Philippine Madrigal Singers and the Kilyawan Boys choir) was astounding, and the PPO under Ranera was in top form.

Carmina Burana

National Artist Alice Reyes with the author and writer Susan Lara (leftmost) after ‘Carmina Burana’ (contributed photo)

On its third and final performance at Samsung Theater, the Alice Reyes choreography earned a cheering standing ovation from a stunned and overwhelmed audience. It was an iconic work worthy of the choreographer’s title as National Artist for Dance.

The night’s opening pieces were just as enchanting. Reyes’s Dugso (The Offering) had a mystic charm all its own, with powerful ethnic music by National Artist for Music Ramon Santos. The original 1972 lighting design by Monino Duque remained magical.

Norman Walker’s Summer’s End with music from the second movement from a Chopin concerto was a fitting treat before the mind-blowing After Whom by Bam Damian. These openers to Carmina Burana made for a doubly memorable dance treat.

Said Reyes after the three hectic but rewarding performances: “I was both grateful and delighted that we could pull this one together. It was tough.”

For the Carl Orff finale, Reyes admitted to facing quite a number of challenges.

Carmina Burana

National Artist Alice Reyes (seated, center stage) with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under Herminigildo Ranera (Photo: Noreen Oronce)

First, the orchestra pit that could not accommodate all 75 members of the PPO and their instruments, including the seven tympani that Maestro Hermie (Ranera) insisted he had to have for Orff’s opus.

In the end, they resolved the space issue while accommodating Salvador Bernal’s grand set design. Reyes explained, “With the help of our technical director Barbie TanTiongco and the production team, and the incredible cooperation we got from Joey Vargas and Odette Galura of the Madz (Philippine Madrigal Singers) and Noreen Orense of the PPO, solutions were found. We positioned the Madrigal singers and the soloists on risers onstage, quite a distance from the conductor. They were all so resolute to keep eye contact with Maestro Hermie who was down in the orchestra pit throughout the performance, looking through dancing skirts and flying capes. The members of the Kilawin Boys choir didn’t need a music score because they know the cantata by heart! That’s the reason I gave them centerstage during the curtain call. They were totally adorable!”

Reyes admitted she was stunned by the audience reactions—such positive comments about the production. “I was happy for all the performers. I was thrilled for everyone who poured their hearts and souls into this three-performance production under the guiding hands of our artistic director Ronelson Yadao and rehearsal masters Lester Reguindin and Ejay Arisola.

As for the other ballets, the same heartfelt pride, joy and gratitude that all the many pieces came together so beautifully.”

Reyes said Dugso was made possible only because Dr. Ramon Santos was able to get a grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) to reproduce and to record his Ding Ding Nga Diyawan. “This was heaven sent. Summer’s End is a favorite duet of mine, long unseen. I was thrilled to be able to mount it again to show and share it with this generation of audiences. And After Whom by Bam Damian to Jerrold Tarog’s music was a most difficult dance that our ARDP Dancers took to heart and attacked with dynamic energy and kinesthetic intensity.  We are especially indebted to Nonoy Froilan and Gener Caringal and Bam Damian, who all generously gave their time to coach. And of course, to NCCA and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), which made it all happen.”

The choreographer’s mood after three hectic but well-received performances: “A big high mixed with a certain sadness for all those who missed the performances! All great works of the music and dance would be lost unless patrons of the arts are there to fund and to produce. Their big help made it possible for audiences to experience magnificent live productions at their best.

“This generation of our Filipino youth would never know the difference between watching productions and performances on YouTube, and actually being there in the theater and breathing in that magic produced by professional artists of the highest caliber. If we deprive them of this opportunity, that would be a very sad day.”

It may be noted that the full performance of Carmina Burana was recorded, years ago, by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Seiji Ozawa with Filipino soprano Evelyn Mandac, tenor Stanley Kolk, and baritone Sherrill Milnes.

It was also in the mid-’70s that Reyes experienced Carmina Burana as an orchestral piece at the CCP under the baton of the late Helen Quach, with the Manila Symphony Orchestra.

About author


He’s a freelance journalist who loves film, theater and classical music. Known as the Bard of Facebook for his poems that have gone viral on the internet, he is author of a first book of poetry, Love, Life and Loss – Poems During the Pandemic and was one of 160 Asian poets in the Singapore-published anthology, The Best Asian Poetry 2021-22. An impresario on the side, he is one of the Salute awardees of Philippines Graphic Magazine during this year’s Nick Joaquin Literary Awards. His poem, Ode to Frontliners, is now a marker at Plaza Familia in Pasig City unveiled by Mayor Vico Sotto December 30, 2020.

Sign up for our Newsletter

Sign up for’s Weekly Digest and get the best of, tailored for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *