Xerxes e Romilda: A Handelian Opera with Persian Music @ UP Asian Center

on . Posted in News @ UP Asian Center

The UP Asian Center, in collaboration with the Department of Voice, Music Theater and Dance of the UP College of Music and Sinag Arts Foundation, will be staging Xerxes e Romilda, a three-act opera based on Georg Friedrich Handel’s Serse on 9 November 2017, 3:00 PM, GT-Toyota Asian Center Auditorium, UP Asian Center, Quezon City.

Tickets cost PhP 600; students get 50 percent off; senior citizens and persons with disabilities, 25 percent. 


Set in Persia (modern Iran) in 480 BCE, Xerxes e Romilda is based on Xerxes I of Persia, one of the well-known Achaemenid emperors (shahanshah, king of kings), and grandson of the dynasty’s founder, Cyrus the Great.  The story revolves around Xerxes’ desire to have Romilda for his own, the lover of his brother, Arsamene, and daughter of one of Xerxes’s vassals. Complicating things is Xerxes’s bethrothal to another woman, Amastre, who is hurt by Xerxes’s infidelity and observes events while disguised as a man.


Xerxes e Romilda will be sung in Italian and accompanied by keyboards and a string ensemble and recorded traditional Iranian music. English translations will be provided. This production uses a libretto (the script) by Silvio Stampiglia and is based on Handel’s opera, Serse, which is known for its opening aria, "Ombra Mai Fu", where Xerxes sings to a plane tree. First performed in London in April 1738, it is said to be Handel’s second most-staged opera. 

Xerxes e Romilda was staged as Serse a few months ago in Arezzo, Italy at the Arezzo Opera Festival of the Oberlin in Italy summer program. It was performed under the direction of Professor Alegria Ferrer of the College of Music, University of the Philippines, and Oberlin in Italy assistant faculty for summer 2016 and 2017.

NOTA BENE. While Xerxes e Romilda offers Filipino audiences a chance to experience Italian opera, it also presents an interesting case study of how Europeans perceived the East before the so-called “Clash of Civilizations,” a specific parallel, if not counterpoint to Xerxes’ negative portrayal in the film, 300. Handel’s Serse comes from a long line of European engagement and representation of Persia, one that includes Herodotus’ Histories and Aeschylus’ play, The Persians, and Montesquieu’s The Persian Letters.


Professor Alegria Ferrer directs a talented cast of artists/alumni/students: Malvin Macasaet (Xerxes); Kelly Peralejo (Romilda); Joshua Cadaliña (Arsamene); Ma Rovelyn Bautista (Atalanta); Avelino Guande (Ariodate); Maria Gereberne Lozada (Amastre); and Jonathan Abella (Elviro).

The production team includes Kyle Solar (scenographer) and Joy Rago (costume designer); Michelle Nicolasora (piano); Renato Lucas (string); Juanito Bernabe (Production Manager); and Alegria Ferrer (Director).

Professor Ferrer has a vast experience as an opera stage director. She is an Aliw Awards Hall of Fame awardee in the Female Classical Category and is included in the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Encyclopedia of the Arts.


The opera is presented by the Department of Voice, Theater and Dance, UP College of Music; UP Asian Center; UP Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts; Sinag Arts Foundation, Inc; and UP Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs


Tickets cost PhP 600, with 50 percent discount for students and 25 percent off for senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Please present a valid ID to avail of the discounts. Tickets are available at Room 105, Hall of Wisdom, UP Asian Center. VIEW VICINITY MAP.

For inquiries, you may also contact Professor Alegria Ferrer at +63.926.223.2810 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; and Kristian Earl Montejo at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The UP Asian Center offers M.A. degrees in Asian Studies with four fields of specialization: Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and West Asia. The Center also has an M.A. program in Philippine Studies that allows students to major in Philippine society and culture, Philippine foreign relations, or Philippine development studies. The Center offers a Ph.D. program in Philippine Studies in conjunction with the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy. Get an overview of these programs. The Asian Center also houses a peer-reviewed, open-access journal, Asian Studies: Journal of Critical Perspectives on Asia. It has published several books and monographs, and hosts or organizes various lectures and conferences

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