A Christian Liberal Arts University, Est. 1846

Taylor Opera Theatre presents Amahl and the Night Visitors

  • Published: Jan 16, 2015 4:30PM

On February 6 and 7 at 8:00 p.m., in Taylor University’s Butz Carruth Recital Hall, Taylor University Opera Theatre presents Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, joined by members of the Taylor Sounds Chamber Ensemble.   This opera, with its touching story about the generosity of a poor shepherd boy and the impact of Jesus’ coming, has become a beloved standard in the opera repertoire.

Taylor’s production emphasizes the vividness and wonder of a child’s viewpoint. Taylor graduates Ryan Maloney (scenic design) and Sara Bailey (costumes), whose work in TU Opera Theatre’s April 2014 Dido and Aeneas production was received with enthusiasm, add to the fantastical world of the opera with brilliantly colorful garb and striking set pieces that reference the New Testament era. TU Opera Theatre also partners with Taylor University Theatre and Indianapolis Opera in this production, and benefits from the performance and production skills of students from numerous disciplines at Taylor. Dr. Patricia Robertson conducts the orchestra and singers, and Dr. Conor Angell stage directs. 

Gian Carlo Menotti, one of the most successful composers of the twentieth century, wrote both the words and music. His evocative libretto and score capture the rhythms and inflections of speech and the emotions of the characters as they relate to one another. Menotti wrote the opera for a 1951 Christmas Eve TV premiere, having received a commission from NBC. He turned for inspiration to his Italian background, describing his imaginative drama in these words:  “This is an opera for children because it tries to recapture my own childhood. You see, when I was a child I lived in Italy, and in Italy we have no Santa Claus. I suppose that Santa Claus is much too busy with American children to be able to handle Italian children as well. Our gifts were brought to us by the Three Kings, instead.”  Although Menotti drew from Italian traditions and the biblical story of the Wise Men, the interpolated story of Amahl seems to be his own creation. During their journey to find the Messiah, the three Wise Men (Kings in Menotti’s version) pause at the home of Amahl, an impoverished, crippled shepherd boy, and his widowed mother. They tell Amahl’s mother that they are bringing gifts for a promised Child, but she can think only of her own needy child. The story unfolds with humor and poignancy, as the child Amahl decides to join the Wise Men in their quest for the Divine Child.

Biblical clues and Christian traditions indicate that the Wise Men’s visit to the home of Jesus may have been up to two years after His birth. Performed at Taylor a month and a half after Christmas, this production explores the lingering, transforming effects of the Advent story on all characters: the Wise Men and poor shepherds alike are drawn from darkness into the great light of Christ’s coming.

Taylor University Opera Theatre integrates classical voice (opera) with musical theatre, and this season’s productions represent the compatibility of those genres. This performance follows the successful November 2014 A Night of Broadway and Opera, and precedes a full production of the Irving Berlin revue I Love a Piano, performed in collaboration with Taylor University Theatre scheduled for April 24, 25, 26, and May 1, 2, 3, 2015 in the Mitchell Theatre.

Tickets for Amahl and the Night Visitors are available for $10 at the door or in the Department of Music office. For more information or to purchase tickets in advance, call 765.998-5232.

Friday & Saturday, February 6 & 7, 2015 @ 8:00 p.m.

Butz Carruth Recital Hall / Smith-Hermanson Music Center / Taylor University
$10.00 tickets available in the TU Dept. of Music office (765.998.5232) or at the door.