Filipino opera ‘Karim at Jasmin’ brings a tale of love and intrigue 

Edwin Raquel as the Heneral in “Karim at Jasmin.” AJPress photos by Andy Tecson

By Fe Koons

The spectacle of the musical play, “Karim at Jasmin” is its  production design. The costumes stand out. The tragedy of the love story is unfortunate.

Like the themes of such Broadway plays, “Les Miserables” and “Miss Saigon,” we see on stage the conflicts of revenge, suicide, life and war.

The heartfelt and emotional singing of Felson Palad (Karim) is marvelous. Together with Stephanie Reese (Rajita), Karim tries to convince her that it is not her fault. Karim breaks his engagement to Rajita and tells her that it is honorable.

Although it is a heart-rending scene, we see an earnest Karim who points out that genuine love is not meant for everyone. Love can be greedy as shown by the jealousy of Rajita.

Heneral (Edwin Raquel), who allies himself with Rajita, continues with his intent to kill Jasmin (Kit Navarro). Indeed, the reality of life and love is portrayed in the story. Love transcends kindness.

Princess  Rajita wants to have Karim for herself and so she sealed the deal with Heneral to follow her heart and get rid of Jasmin. During the invasion of Karim’s kingdom, Heneral and Karim mortally kill each other.

The songs in the musical are beautiful. Dr. Ramon Sison Geluz is an outstanding writer. Although in the beginning, the background music was too loud that it drowned the melodious voices of actors.

Edwin Raquel as the villain is believable. His massive voice and acting as an antagonist adds up to the conflict of the story.

The cast of “Karim at Jasmin,” the first-ever original major Filipino opera composed by Dr. Ramon Geluz, during a performance at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 29.

In the world of humans and nymphs, we see not just fantasy but the metaphorical symbol of the lake. When Heneral poisons the lake which is the source of water of the kingdom, the people calls on the Mother of the lake and the nymphs to help them. Nature then comes to rescue of the humans.

Annie Nepomuceno playing the role of the Mother of the Lake  is true to her acting as a mother not only to the nymphs but also to humans. She advises Jasmin to follow her heart.

The choreography of the dancers are quite minimal. But in Scene 6, Child of Peace, Alma Sianson was able to balance herself pretty well considering she was sitting on two bamboo sticks. She was to focus on holding to Little Karim, who reminds the audience that humankind must protect the lake and nature on which they live.

In the first place, if Mother Nature takes revenge on fisherfolks, peasants and  all human beings, there will be no peace on earth. n

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