The overwhelming art of Lea Salonga

Analette Abesamis
My heart was on a rollercoaster ride for two hours. It was filled with joy, love, sadness, disappointment, and pain.

Have you ever seen a Claude Monet painting in real life? Or perhaps Roger Federer playing on Centre Court? I have. And being immersed in Lea Salonga’s “Songs from the Stage” concert reminded me of the times I’ve seen a Monet painting and Federer in action – an artistic overdose, an experience so overwhelming that it’s religious. This is a spectator’s account of that experience.

As Lea’s brother Gerard Salonga began moving his baton, the Philippine International Convention Center seemed like a cathedral. I instantly felt goosebumps when the first few notes were played – ah, Miss Saigon. The orchestra went on to play magnificently as they weaved music that’s personally close to Lea. Simply put, the overture was exceptional.

The songs’ arrangement perfectly complemented Lea’s voice. The subtle notes that were included simply heightened the experience. The rhythm of the lights and the gentle shifting of colors to change the mood were also well thought of. It especially got to me during “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” (Les Miserables), with the mix of white, blue, and red making me think of the French flag.

Lea’s technique has always been flawless. In this particular concert, what struck me most was the gravity and emotional expression of her voice. She displayed her arsenal of skills, choosing the perfect parts for when to use her head tone or chest voice. Her crescendo and decrescendo made each song more meaningful; each note was hit to tell the song’s story. My goodness, it was breathtakingly stunning.

The entire production was phenomenal, but there were a few key moments where I just couldn’t help but be moved and cry.

Lea has always been an LGBTQ ally, but to let her daughter Nicole sing “Ring of Keys” (Fun Home) cemented that fact. Her daughter is inclusive. She knows that love is love is love. That moment made me proud as a human being.

Lea and Gerard also gave an emotionally charged tribute to their mom. It was love in its purest form. It was a beautiful family moment that they shared with us. Ma’am Ligaya, thank you for giving birth and sharing with the world your two beautiful geniuses.

My heart was on a rollercoaster ride for two hours. It was filled with joy, love, sadness, disappointment, and pain. Lea left her heart on the stage – that’s love for her craft. I don’t think you could ask for more. I’m just extremely grateful that I was able to experience the whole of it. Like what I told Lea, it ignited something in me.

To the entire production team of “Songs from the Stage”, congratulations!