Two of the celebrity professors of  Liceo Conservatory of Music, Theatre & Dance will feature in a double bill of the Lyric Opera of the Philippines and Hong Kong Opera Tutti next month.

Professors Horst-Hans Bäcker and Cipriano M. de Guzman Jr. are joining the cast and crew of the double-billed opera Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci” with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra at St Cecilia Auditorium of St. Scholastica’s College in Malate, Manila on November 10 and 12.

Cavalleria rusticana is an opera in one act by Pietro Mascagni to an Italian libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci, adapted from an 1880 short story and play of the same name  by Giovanni Verga.  Considered one of the classic verismo operas, it has often been performed in a so-called Cav/Pag double-bill with  I Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo.

I Pagliacci  is an Italian opera in a prologue and two acts, with music and libretto by Ruggero Leoncavallo. The opera tells the tale of Canio, actor and leader of a commedia dell’arte theatrical company, who murders his wife Nedda and her lover Silvio onstage during a performance. 

Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci (better known in opera circles as Cav & Pag) are often performed together because both offer a real immersive journey into Verismo. Verismo works focus on emotionally intense and violent stories, often emphasizing the lives of common people, in order to be more realistic.

De Guzman will take on the role of Silvio in I Pagliacci while Bäcker will conduct the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra during the performance.


Professor Horst-Hans Bäcker has been teaching Composition, Conducting and Music History at the Liceo Conservatory of Music, Theatre & Dance since May, 2016 when he accepted the invitation of  Dr. Rudolf Caesar Golez, Dean, and Liceo U Chairperson Dr. Rafaelita Pelaez to create a music curriculum of European standard.

Bäcker has been commissioned to compose music by musicians and chamber ensembles from all over the world, as well as music for special occasions by various European cities. 

Just recently, he was adjudged as one of the world’s Top 3 Classical Music Composers in the 2022 WorldVision Composers Contest which was settled with a triple tie. Previously, Bäcker won the prestigious De Profundis Composer’s Competition in Cologne, Germany in 1988 with his original composition Aus Der Tiefe Ruf Ich, Herr, Zu Dir (From the Depth I Cry Out to You Lord).

Bäcker also conducts orchestras in Europe, Brazil and the Philippines.

Since 2017 he has been a Permanent Guest Conductor of the Classic Youth Orchestra in Cebu, then was designated as Principal Conductor of the newly established Cagayan de Oro Symphony Orchestra in 2018.

Horst-Hans Bäcker conducting the Cagayan de Oro Symphony Orchestra.

Bäcker plans to finish composing his current project of a “Big Cycle of Concertos” for various solo instruments with orchestra, after which he mulls composing his first opera.

L-R Horst-Hans Bäcker, daughter Sophie, Mom Regina, and Wife Josefe. Sophie and Regina are holding up photos of Bäcker’s father Johann whom he credits with influencing him to choose a career in music. (Bäcker, Family Photo)

He has lived in Cagayan de Oro City since 2016 with his Mother Regina, Filipina wife Josefe and daughter Sophie.

The Filipino Baritone

Professor Cipriano M. de Guzman Jr. teaches voice and theater at the Liceo de Cagayan University Conservatory of Music, Theatre & Dance.

Dubbed The Filipino Baritone, he made waves in Japan in 2016 winning second prize at the 10th Yokohama International Music Competition at the Tokyo Gotanda Cultural Center in August. He won first prize twice (2016/2017) in the American Protégé International Vocal Competition, at Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall in New York City, and special prizes at the 8th Tokyo International Competition and Osaka International Music Competition.

This was followed by another top prize in the senior/professional open category at the 17th Roma International Music Competition, Grand Prize Virtuoso at the Parco Della Musica in Rome, Italy in December 2018.

Filipino Baritone Cipriano De Guzmán Jr. won Best Male Performance in a Concert and Rudolf GolezBest Instrumentalist at the 35th Aliw Awards.

He is a two-time recipient of the  National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Ani ng Dangal (Harvest of Honors) in 2018 and 2019. The award is for natural-born Filipino artists who reaped top honors in international events for architecture and allied arts, cinema, dance, dramatic arts, literary arts, music, and visual arts. He was also a nominee in Malaysia’s  2019 BOH Cameronian Arts Award for Best Solo Vocal Performance. More recently, he won the 2022 Aliw Awards for Best Male Performance in a Concert, and was also nominated for Best Classical Performer.

Filipino Baritone Cipriano de Guzman Jr. in a scene from Teatro Savioia’s The Barber of Seville.
(photo by Rosella de Rosa)

On September 23 and 24, 2023, De Guzman made his Italian opera debut as Dottore Bartolo in Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) at Teatro Savoia in Campobasso, Italy. It’s been 16 years since a Filipino last performed in a full opera production in the birthplace of opera (Filipino-American tenor Arthur Espiritu in 2007).

De Guzman will next feature this coming December as Marullo in the Verdi’s Rigoletto with Andorra Lírica (Òpera Nacional del Principat d’Andorra).

Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci is sponsored by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, Globaltronics, Philippine Heritage Society, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines, with the support of Ambasciata d’Italia Manila (Italian Embassy-Manila).


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