Creative Team

RAMON SISON GELUZ: The genius behind "Karim at Jasmin"

LOS ANGELES -- No one is more excited with the coming US production of the musicale opera "Karim at Jasmin" than its writer, lyricist and composer Ramon Sison Geluz.

"Karim at Jasmin", is a tragic love story set to music. It tells of the story of the mortal Prince Karim and the nymph, who in the end, because of love has to endure the death of loved ones in order to pursue lasting peace.

"Karim at Jasmin", the brainchild of Ramon, is a dream project that is uniquely Filipino and has the distinct advantage of being the first original Filipino musical opera. "Karim at Jasmin" -- whose story took Ramon almost 25 years conceptualizing, developing, writing, polishing, editing and revising -- features at least 17 original Filipino songs which Ramon himself has composed.

Although he is a medical practitioner by profession, Ramon is an artist through and through. As a kid, he has always been fascinated by the arts - especially music. At an early age, he learned to play the piano from his mother Carmen Tiongson Sison. Ramon was only seven years old when he auditioned and was accepted to sing as a "tiple", a boy soprano at their local parish church.

"It was at the choir loft where I first became intrigued by the operatic sounds of the sopranos and tenors, who would take us to the different places where they performed around Manila - including the television show "Oras ng Ligaya" with Sylvia de la Torre and Oscar Obligacion," Ramon recalled.

He was not only impressed by their talents but was also amazed at how kind and dedicated the church choir singers were. His fascination with the beautiful and harmonic music and his constant exposure to the church choir's performances fired up Ramon's burning desire to one day write an opera in Filipino.

It was an ambitious - but not impossible - project that would take Ramon more than two decades to turn into reality. Despite being an active member of the cultural group of the CCP and a music and arts enthusiast, he has to forgo his wish of majoring in Music Education and pursue a medical career instead.

For years, his dream lay in the sidelines as Ramon concentrate on his medical practice. Still he found expression for his artistic talent by conceptualizing and developing the story that would evolve into "Karim at Jasmin".

"Years ago, while I was swimming at our tiny backyard pool, I saw the reflection of a man and woman amidst the shadows of banana leaves. As I looked up, I felt the cool breeze amid the rustling of the bamboo trees. Right then I knew what my opera will be - "Karim at Jasmin," Ramon narrated.

Drawing inspirations from the myths, lore, legends, and the richness of the Philippines' Muslim culture, Ramon tirelessly wrote, revised and polished his story. But it would be years later -- with many story revisions and song compositions -- before Ramon would launch the staging of "Karim at Jasmin."

On November 4, 2006 "Karim at Jasmin" was staged at the Cultural Center of the Philippines' Little Theater. Its lyrical and harmonic scores were all original and authentic Filipino melodies, which Ramon composed himself, which were musically arranged by Naldy Rodriguez.

The successful production of the first Filipino musical opera was a proof of the genius of its writer, lyricist and composer, Dr. Ramon Sison Geluz, whose love for music is matched only by his unwavering belief in the limitless talents of the Filipino performers.

Produced by MRG Entertainment, Inc., "Karim at Jasmin" will have its premiere on June 23, 2007 at the Long Beach Convention Center Terrace Theater. For its U.S. production, the musical opera will be recreated by more visually stunning scenes and musical excitement aimed at putting the Filipino musical opera in the entertainment map.

Under the able direction of award-winning stage director Jet Montelibano, distinguished performers like Ma. Cristina Navarro, Gelo Francisco, Everlita Rivera-David, Luningning BUan-Manahan, and Bones Deoso, Jr. - who themselves have created their own legends in the opera world - will breath life to the characters of "Karim at Jasmin" in stunning and dramatic performances.

Don't miss this opportunity to be part of this historic event. "Karim at Jasmin" is surely an experience that will enrich your heritage and will make you and your country proud.