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September 21, 2023

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University hosts Christmas opera, tells the story of Amahl and the three wise men

“Amahl and the Night Visitors”

The “Amahl and the Night Visitors” opera premiered in the Wolfe Center’s Donnell Theatre Dec. 5 and 6 as part of the ArtsX celebration.

“Amahl and the Night Visitors” is a Christmas opera that tells the story of a poor shepard boy, Amahl, and his mother being visited by the three wisemen.

Amahl and his mother are poor but offer the wisemen a place to stay for the night. When Amahl’s mother finds out the Three Kings are planning on delivering gifts to a child they haven’t even met, the mother gets outraged and tries to steal some gold.

After she gets caught, the kings decide to let her keep the gold anyway because she needs it far more than the child they are visiting do. When the mother hears this, both she and Amahl wish to send gifts of their own but are without anything to give, so Amahl offers his crutch he uses to walk. When he hands out his crutch, he is instantly healed and able to walk around. Amahl then decides to accompany the kings to visit the child.

Geoff Stephenson, Associate Director of Musical Theatre studies, directed the opera.

“Amahl and the Night Visitors” is the first opera to be written for television and the first Hallmark Hall of fame special, Stephenson said.

Gian Carlo Menotti, the composer of the opera, was inspired by a painting of the Gifts of the Magi in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, Stephenson said.

“In Italy, gifts aren’t brought by Santa Claus,” Stephenson said, “instead, the Three Kings bring the gifts to the children.”

Menotti thought that he would capture the essence of his childhood Christmases in “Amahl and the Night Visitors” Stephenson said.

“The performance was heart-warming,” said Joel Trisel, a second-year graduate student in music. “There was strong singing from the principals and the chorus alike and the orchestra supported the singers well. When the orchestra played alone they kept the magic alive.”

“[The performance] drew me right in,” said Liz Hood, also a music graduate student. “It was wonderful, very well prepared, and the acting was superb.”

“Amahl and the Night Visitors” was perfomed at 7 p.m. on Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday.

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