La Divina Cried In Front of Me Last Night

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Terrence McNally's Master Class starring Ms. Cherie Gil


A few weeks ago, I was invited to the press conference of Master Class by the Philippine Opera Company which stars Ms. Cherie Gil. I quickly researched what this is all about and learned that it is about Maria Callas, a legendary opera diva. No wonder it is played by Ms. Cherie Gil because she is a diva when it comes to drama in Philippine soap opera! Knowing this triggered my interest if Cherie will sing in this play and maybe she'll be singing on the press conference.

Cherie Gil and Michael Williams

At the press conference, Cherie was always smiling and she was answering every question thrown at her. Being the maldita who threw a glass of water at Sharon's face as we all know, she is actually pretty funny and charming. Looking at her made me feel like I wanted to do what Monica of Friends did in one of their episodes (Monica wanted to be slapped by her idol Susan Sarandon) and I wanted to be slapped by Cherie like what she does to her enemies in her soaps. However, I think Cherie will disagree to do so. Also, unfortunately, she didn't sing because her role is a non-singing role for this play.

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A couple of songs were sang by some actors and actresses of the play. The songs were in Italian and they're opera songs which I don't understand. It sounded great and it made my goosebumps rise however, it made me thinking if I would enjoy the play because it seems too high life for me.

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The day of the play came. Thank you so much, Toots Tolentino who gave me a first row seat which was very very very close to the stage. My heart was pounding at that moment when I sat there thinking if I am ready to watch this show and it started. The play is based on a classroom setting with Maria Callas teaching in Juliard School of Music back in 1971 where two sopranos and a tenor will be singing. How can I not be ready? Convinced to open my mind and reminded myself to try to keep awake, I breathe deeply with a lot of MUT, I'm ready to watch Master Class.


Cherie Gil rehearsing in front of media and bloggers before the play.

Cherie Gil walked to the stage with her big glasses and giving a little lecture. She was a terror teacher. I feel like I was transported to the first grade with a teacher who made me feel I knew nothing. She even called Joriben the guy without a look which made the audience laugh. It was like back in first grade when the teacher made fun of students for them to learn. From being Cherie Gil, she became Maria Callas in my eyes.

Cherie Gil as Maria Callas

One by one her students sang. While they were singing, Maria Callas was transported to the past where she reminisced her glorious days at La Scala, her success from being a loser into being a somebody and her tragic love life with Aristotle Onassis. One of my most unforgettable parts of the play is when Sharon Graham (played by Ana Feleo) came out of the stage. She was in a gown and going to sing Lady Macbeth. Callas taught her how to let her presence felt on the stage as Lady Macbeth and what she was feeling. I laughed my heart out when Callas said that she's becoming crazy and Graham acted like she was becoming crazy when Callas shouted at her that it was not what she meant. Callas also taught Graham about "MUT" which means courage in German.

MUT is what brought me to the theater to watch this play. I was surprisingly up the whole play because it was very funny and the dramatic parts almost made me burst into tears. I didn't have to remind myself of anything. I didn't even imagine I would love it so very much. It was like my mind was also transported to some other timeline.
The moment when Maria Callas was transported to the tragic moments of her love life, tears came out of Cherie's eyes. The tears kept flowing and flowing, and at that moment, I felt so sad. At the same time, my mind was clapping and shouting, "Bravo Cherie!" She has successfully tricked my mind into thinking she is Maria Callas. She is not just a good actress on TV or movie but she is a fabulously great stage actress! As what Cherie has said in her interview during the press conference and during the post performance press call, "I ate, slept and breathe Maria Callas." She was amazing! At the end of the play, my body naturally stood and clapped for La Divina Maria Callas and the La Divina of the Philippines Ms. Cherie Gil!

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I have always loved stage plays and I have once been part of the drama guild back in high school but that's another story! Just go watch Master Class!

Master Class will be showing at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati from July 29 to August 15, 2010. Please visit http://www.ticketworld.com.ph/ to buy tickets. It is directed by Michael Williams. Other actors and actresses are: Juan Alberto Gaerlan as Anthony Candolino and Al Gatmaitan (alternate), Florence Aguilar as Sophie de Palma, Ana Feleo and Kay Balajadia-Liggayu (alternate) as Sharon Graham, and Francis Amora as the pianist Manny.



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