Holiday favorite ‘Amahl and the Night Visitors’ returns to WCSU

DANBURY, CONN. — The Western Connecticut State University Opera Ensemble will present the timeless holiday classic “Amahl and the Night Visitors” in December.

Prolific opera composer Gian-Carlo Menotti’s English-language opera will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, in Ives Concert Hall in White Hall on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. General admission tickets are $10, while tickets for seniors and children 12 and under are $5. Tickets will be available at the door or can be purchased in advance by calling 203-837-TIXX or at www.wcsu.edu/tickets.

This one-act opera is a seasonal tradition for many in the community as it holds a universal message of selflessness that connects with people of all faiths. Professor of Music Dr. Margaret Astrup is director and producer of the production and said that many who come may discover a newfound appreciation for the arts as it was the first opera specifically composed for American television.

“This one-act opera in English is a captivating entry work to the art form and a way for children and families to be introduced to both theater and opera,” Astrup said.

Donal Henahan of The New York Times once wrote of Menotti, “He has suffered from a fear almost unknown among contemporary composers, the fear of losing touch with his audience and with the conventions of the traditional stage.”

Menotti is one of the most popular opera composers of his time, winning two Pulitzer Prizes and remembered for his talent for making opera comprehensible and enjoyable for those who had previously dismissed it.

Attendees also will enjoy feeling like participants in the show as the cast sings and emerges from the audience, using the entire concert hall as a stage.

Originally broadcast live on commission by the NBC television network on Dec. 24, 1951, and performed more than 2,500 times since, the opera is inspired by Menotti’s fond memories of Christmas during his childhood in Italy where the Three Kings were the legendary source of Christmas gifts. Inspired by Bosch’s painting “The Adoration of the Magi,” the opera tells the story of a poor and crippled shepherd boy and his chance meeting with the Three Kings on their journey to Bethlehem.

This 50-minute holiday treat will feature a different cast in each performance. On Friday evening, Lucas Hernandez, of Hamden, will perform Amahl while Richard Owen, of Brewster, N.Y., will perform the title role for the Saturday show. Their mothers will be played by Jessica Oslander, of Harwinton, and Megan Kellog, of Stamford. Featured as King Kaspar are D’Andre Fontanelle, of West Haven, and Andrew Gadwah, of Meriden. Ben Townsend, of Clinton, and Steve Valenzuela, of Waterbury, will appear as King Melchior. Jean Carlos Rodriguez, of Waterbury, and Stephen Wynn, of Greenwich, will perform the role of King Balthazar. Ryan Reynolds, of New Milford, and Tyler Campbell, of Milford, will appear as the page and Sarah Peterson, of West Hartford, and Brendan Fox, of Bethel, are featured dancers.

For more information call (203) 837-TIXX.

 

Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.

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