“La Estrella: A Night of Music and Flamenco” was a laudable project for Portkey Events, a quiet company established sometime late 2015.
One can label the young Katreen dela Cruz, La Estrella’s director, as bold in undertaking “La Estrella” as her first major project for Portkey.
“La Estrella,” set in southern Spain, was a love triangle, involving Carina (played by Katsie Llave) and her two childhood best friends: Alejandro (David Ezra), the shy but sweet village boy, and Ricardo (Arman Ferrer), the headstrong but charming aristocrat.
Love triangles are great materials to ruminate and explore human emotions, human conditions, and their frailties. With that said, Dela Cruz should have pushed the parameters of theater productions in this particular project, billed as “the first of its kind in flamenco / classical / musical theater.”
Flamenco, Spanish music, dance, and classical guitars are powerful tools, which are sufficient enough to cause a nuclear war inside a theater venue, if properly deployed.
Dela Cruz could have better envisioned the totality of the execution of the production, including the production design, lighting, and the supporting cast. The production design did not capture the raging temper and smoldering sentiments of a love triangle. The lighting design was flat, with the stage lights barely changing hues. Sadly, red, the color of love and passion, was sparingly used. The designs on the floor of the stage competed with the costumes of the performers. Dela Cruz should have also enlisted the assistance of better-trained and more graceful dancers and singers composing the ensemble.
The real stars of the “La Estrella,” however, were Ezra and Ferrer for their musical competence and Llave, for the potentials of her flamenco dancing skills.
In their solos and duets, Ezra and Ferrer once again proved that they deserve their places in the list of serious, classically trained tenors in the Philippines worth the ticket price.
The tenors’ performance of “Amapola”, “Granada”, “Si Tu Me Amas,” “Si Volvieras Ami,” “Jurame”, “Abrazame”, “Somos Novios” were among the strongest moments of the production.
Llave showed her flamenco training in her two solos in Acts 1 and 2.
Classical guitarist Ziv Astronomo should be commended for his stirring renditions of several pieces by the Spanish composer and pianist Isaac Albéniz. Among the standout in Astronomo’s numbers was “Asturias” (also known as Leyenda), considered as Albéniz’s tribute to Andalusian flamenco.
Most Filipinos have heard of Albéniz and his “Recuerdos dela Alhambra,” often played in malls and public venues. They just do not associate the name with the music.
Here’s to wishing that the next mounting of “La Estrella” will sparkle to truly manifest the grandiose magic and beauty of love and the whole universe.