Arts & Culture

Ecstatic bravos for Arthur Espiritu at CCP Black Box Theater inauguration

Tenor Arthur Espiritu at the CCP Black Box inauguration. Photo by Kiko Cabuena.

The inauguration of the CCP Black Box Theater Thursday night (Sept. 8) became doubly memorable with the ecstatic bravos and thunderous applause resounding at the new theater after tenor Arthur Espiritu’s rendition of Una furtiva lagrima from Donizetti’s L’elisir damore.

“The voice was special. I was instantly mesmerized,” said dancer-choreographer-actor Edna Vida who once danced Myrtha to the Giselle of Russian ballet icon Natalia Makarova. “It’s heaven to watch a live performance again and feel the energy of the artists,” she said.

The tenor was accompanied by pianist Farley Asuncion. “The pianist was really good,” said the tenor.

The inauguration of the 350-seater Black Box Theater was graced by CCP president Margie Moran Floirendo, CCP trustee Jaime Laya, presidential sister Irene M. Araneta and an array of performing arts luminaries.

The theater was made possible with support from  businessman  Ignacio Gimenez.  The theater is now known as  Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez.

Gimenez was once a scholar of National Artist for Theater Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero. He donated the building to CCP to honor his mentor and as his way of giving back to the Filipino people.

At the Black Box inauguration: CCP president Margie Moran Floirendo with CCP trustee Jaime Laya, businessman Ignacio Gimenez and presidential sister Irene M. Araneta. Photo by Kiko Cabuena.

Former CCP artistic director Chris Millado also lauded the new theater’s opening even as he earlier monitored the rehearsals before the inauguration. “Nothing sweeter than the sound of performer’s chatter, song and laughter filling the once empty halls,” he posted on FB.

Espiritu said the theater’s aura is very welcoming and comfortable. “The acoustics is not anything like the defunct Philamlife Theater. But if you project your voice, it is just fine. The retractable seats are the highlights and the configurations are convertible.”

Located on the corner of Jalandoni and Sotto Streets in the CCP complex, the Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez is actually a three-level structure with a flexible theater expanse that can be adjusted to artistic and technical needs of live productions of concerts, recitals, plays, and other live events. It boasts of at least four flexible stage and seating configurations, a removable trap door, a portable dance floor, and a high-end sound and light technology system.  Its catwalk offers provisions to accommodate lighting, sound, video equipment, and additional drapery.  It also has various orchestra and choral risers, as well as aluminum trusses, which can be used for rigging stage sets and designs.  An acoustically treated door separates the carpentry area from the performance space.

A day before the inauguration, soprano Stefanie Quintin with pianist Gabriel Allan Paguirigan also opened the new theater with a vocal repertoire like no other.

Soprano Stefanie Quintin with pianist Gabriel Paguirigan at the Black Box theater. Memorable recital without the popular program. Photo from the FB post of Stefanie Quintin.

To conventional music lovers, it felt strange without operatic arias. “Even with that unfamiliar repertoire, Stefanie (Quintin) remained very engaging and very effective,” said classical guitarist Aaron Aguila. “If it were another soprano without the versatility of Stefanie (Quintin), it would be very boring. I loved the way she ended the concert walking away from the stage and still singing,” Aguila added.

Meanwhile, the new performing arts venue will feature more artists from the CCP theater and music attractions among them Tanghalang Pilipino’s Anak Datu, CCP Triple Threats Series, Ang Dakilang Teatro ng Daigdig, Carousel and Ternocon.

The new theater was blessed with both Christian and Muslim rites.

The building took three years to finish with the support and assistance of the Leandro V. Locsin Partners.  The groundbreaking ceremony was held in January 2016 and construction of the building commenced in 2017.

At the Black Box opening: Joy Virata, Edna Vida, Nonon Padilla and Nonoy Froilan. Photo by Edna Vida.

Meanwhile, the acclaimed Filipino tenor is all set for his outreach concert at the Manila Pianos on October 17 (6 p.m.) and at the performing arts hall of the University of the Philippines Iloilo on October 20, 4 p.m.

The Iloilo concert is dedicated to the distinguished Ilonggo tenor Otoniel Gonzaga who died in Vienna in 2018. “I’m so honored and excited to be able to sing in the legendary tenor’s hometown. I miss him. Up to now, I can recall our three-hour conversation when I visited him in Vienna years ago.”

(The Manila Pianos and Iloilo City program of Arthur Espiritu includes:Fantasia on the Opera “La Traviata” by Giuseppe Verdi arr. by Donato Lovreglio; La Promessa Rossini; Vaga Luna by Bellini; La Ricordanza by Bellini; Addio ai Viennesi by Rossini; Tu ca nun chiange by  De Curtis; Freunde das leben ist lebenswert by  Lehar; Du bist die ruh and An die music by  Schubert;Dein ist mein ganzes herz by Léhar; Fantasia on the Opera “Rigoletto” by Giuseppe Verdi arr. by  Luigi Bassi; Chanson Triste by Duparc; Phidyle by  Duparc; Extase by Duparc; L’heure exquise and A Chloris by  Hahn; Maria  (West Side Story) by  Bernstein and many others. Call 09065104270 for inquiries.)