‘Amahl and the Night Visitors’ visit Danbury for the holidays
WCSU Opera Ensemble to stage 16th annual performance of Menotti classic Dec. 10-11
DANBURY, CONN. — The Western Connecticut State University Opera Ensemble will present the holiday opera classic “Amahl and the Night Visitors” in three performances at the university on Friday, Dec. 10, and Saturday, Dec. 11.
This year’s presentation will mark the 16th annual WCSU Opera Ensemble production of the English-language opera by Gian-Carlo Menotti, originally commissioned for broadcast on the NBC television network in December 1951. Performances of the one-act opera will be at 8 p.m. on Dec. 10, and at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Dec. 11, in Ives Concert Hall in White Hall on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury.
General admission will be $10, with ticket fees of $5 for senior citizens and children under 12. Admission will be free for students with valid ID. Advance reservations may be made online at www.wcsu.edu/tickets or by calling (203) 837-8499. Tickets also will be sold at the door.
Professor of Music Dr. Margaret Astrup is the director and producer for the “Amahl” production. Performances will feature a cast of Western opera students as well as members of the WCSU Orchestra.
Astrup observed that “Amahl” has become a popular holiday tradition for the university and Greater Danbury communities, providing a special opportunity for families to enjoy a performance by the WCSU Opera and share in the spirit of the season.
“‘Amahl and the Night Visitors’ is a seasonal inspiration to people of all faiths, and resonates a universal message of giving and community support,” Astrup said. “This opera is a captivating work providing entry to the art form, and a way for children and families to be introduced to both theater and opera.”
The opera tells the story of an impoverished and crippled shepherd boy’s encounter with the Three Kings on their way to Bethlehem and the heart-warming outcome of their chance meeting. “Because we perform in a concert hall rather than a theater, we use the entire hall as our stage,” she said. “The children get close to Amahl and the Kings as they meander, singing, through the audience, and the shepherds emerge from among the people. In this way, the audience can feel more like participants in the opera.”
The Opera Ensemble production will feature separate casts portraying the principal roles in each of the three Ives Concert Hall performances. Cast in the title role of the child Amahl are three 11-year-old youths: William Mackay, of Greenwich; and Lucas Hernandez, and Ryan Murphy, both of Hamden. The role of Amahl’s mother will be played by Amanda Forker, of Wethersfield; Cidalia Alves, of Bridgewater; and Lauren Brown, of Danbury.
Eight performers will portray Kaspar, Melchior and Balthazar, the Magi who pay a night visit to Amahl and his mother. They include Scott Towers and Zachary Ross, both of Branford; D’Andre Fontanelle and David Sylvia, both of West Haven; Joshua Lara, of New Britain; Jean Carlos Rodriguez, of Waterbury; Matthew Popp, of Orange; and Alexander Patrie, of Griswold.
In notes describing his composition of the opera, Menotti explained he was inspired by his fond memories of the Three Kings as the legendary source of Christmas gifts during his childhood in Italy. Astrup noted the 50-minute production “has all the elements of grand opera with arias, ensembles and choruses, but it is also filled with spectacle and humor. Parts will make you laugh, and others may leave you in tears.”
For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.
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.