PH Opera Co.’s musical revue ‘Harana’ to tour U.S., Canada

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ERIE, Pennsylvania -- The Philippine Opera Company (POC) will serenade U.S. and Canadian audiences this year with its musical concert revue “Harana: A Cultural Journey” starting in May.

“Harana” means serenade in Filipino, a traditional form of courtship where a suitor woos a lady’s affection with love songs outside her home as she watches from an open window or balcony.

The revue will feature traditional and contemporary songs in different genres such as children’s songs, tribal chants, farming songs and courtship ditties.

There will be song-and-dance tributes to iconic comediennes such as Nida Blanca and Sylvia la Torre, featuring songs like “Waray Waray” and “Kung Ako’y Mag-aasawa.”

Kundiman, traditional Filipino love songs, will also be performed.

“Harana” kicks off in Los Angeles on May 21, San Francisco May 28 and Seattle May 30. It then tours Canadian cities Gibsons, Victoria, Vancouver, Okanagan, Calagary, Edmonton, June 1 to 6 and Winnipeg on June 8.

It will then return to the U.S. with shows in Colorado Springs (June 12) and Denver (June 15). On June 21, it will have a show in Toronto.

POC is still open to adding cities to its tour. “We can tour your city if there are any organizations, independent producers or even Filipino American or Filipino Canadian student groups in colleges or universities who could partner with us,” says POC Artistic Director Karla Gutierrez.


For today’s audiences

“We’re committed to preserving indigenous Filipino music. At the same time, we restructured and enhanced these songs to suit the tastes of today’s audiences. The treatment is a little bit more modern but the original arrangements of the songs are respected,” Gutierrez says.

The revue will open with songs from the northern highlands of the Philippines. The Cordillera suite features an Igorot medley.

The show goes on to feature songs from the mid-lowlands (Rural Suite) such as “Kalesa,” “Ano Kaya Ang Kapalaran,” “Ang Maya” and “May Ibong Kakanta,” and southern islands (Muslim Suite), with songs such as “Mamayog akun,” “Dayo dayo kupita,” “Pok pok limpako” and “Dayang dayang.”

The Maria Clara Suite will featuring songs such as “Bituing Marikit” and “Nasaan Ka Irog,” while the Folk Songs Suite features songs such as “Rosas Pandan,” “Sarumbanggi” and “Aruy Aruy,” among others.

It will conclude with a Contemporary Classics Suite, featuring songs such as Freddie Aguilar’s “Anak,” “Bayan Ko” and “Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal.” 

Using music arrangements by Von de Guzman, the revue’s songs have been composed by the likes of Nicanor Abelardo, Ryan Cayabyab, Willy Cruz, Francisco Santiago, Antonio Molina, Resti Umali, George Canseco, Ernani Cuenco, Levi Celerio, Jose Estrella, Constancia De Guzman, Felipe de Leon, among many more.



The revue features eight singers led by Gutierrez, whose credits include Cosette in “Les Miserables” and Cinderella in “Into the Woods” for Repertory Philippines. Opera credits include playing the Dew Fairy in “Hanzel und Gretel” at the Rome Opera Festival and as a soloist in David Glass’ “The Lost Child.”

Other female singers in the show include Janine Santos (“La Traviata,” “Maxie the Musicale”), Marian Santiago (“The King and I,” “Cinderella”) and KL Dizon (“Manhid,” “Kabesang Tales”).

Male singers include Nazer Salcedo (“Candide,” “Orosman at Zafira”), Lawrence Jatayna (Singapore Lyrica Opera and Singapore Symphony Orchestra), Noel Rayos (“The Producers,” “Rama Hari”) and Ellito Eustacio (Coro Tomasino and Imusicapella Chamber Choir).

The production uses video and photo projections as well as colorful and detailed costumes designed by Zeny Gutierrez.

The revue was originally directed by Kokoy Jimenez, director of the seminal children’s TV show “Batibot.”

The show has been staged in Manila, Palawan and in the Visayas. It toured Amsterdam in 2009. “Almost ninety percent of its audiences did not understand the lyrics but they loved the melodies. And they gave us standing ovations,” Gutierrez says.