Amahl and the Night Visitors, a one-act opera by Gian Carlo Menotti, will be performed at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Sunday, December 16, 2012 at the Performing Arts Center at 51 Walden. This popular American opera, which includes full orchestra and chorus, will be conducted by Alan Yost, with artistic direction by Robin Farnsley. It is being sponsored by Friends of the Performing Arts in Concord (FOPAC).
Soloists are Julia Shneyderman as Amahl, Robin Farnsley as the mother, and Brad Amidon as the page. The roles of the three kings will be sung by Ray Bauwens, Craig Tata, and Michael Prichard. The opera also includes dancing shepherdesses from the School of Ballet Arts.
Julia Shneyderman, the 11-year old girl singing the lead role, is a 6th grader at The Edward Devotion School in Brookline. A member of the PALS Children’s Chorus, she sang in the children’s chorus in FOPAC’s production of La Bohème last June. Other credits are Moth in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Boston Lyric Opera and Businessman in The Little Prince. Julia studies voice with Pamela Wolfe, Vocal Instructor at Brandeis University.
The opera is set near Bethlehem, just after the birth of Christ. Amahl is a shepherd boy who walks with the aid of a crutch. He tends to exaggerate and tell tall tales, so when he tells his mother he sees a star “as big as a window” and later tells her he sees three kings dressed in royal garb, she doesn’t believe him. Eventually the kings present themselves at Amahl’s door, and ask to rest at the hut for the night. The kings have brought gold and other treasures to give to the Christ child.
Amahl’s mother attempts to steal the gold for her son when the kings are resting, but the page stops her. Amahl awakes and defends his mother, but when King Melchior realizes her motives he tells here that the Holy Child will not need earthly power or wealth for his kingdom, and that she may keep the gold. The mother is so impressed by this gesture that she offers to return the gold. She wants to send a gift to the baby but has nothing to give. Amahl only has his crutch, and when he offers it to the kings, his leg is miraculously healed. He joins the kings for the rest of their journey, to see the child and to give him his crutch in thanks.
Amahl was commissioned by NBC for live television broadcast in 1951. Menotti took his inspiration for the opera from the Hieronymus Bosch painting The Adoration of the Magi.
Tickets for the performance are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and students. To purchase call 978 369-7911 or buy on-line at 51walden.org.