Gian Carlo Menotti’s tuneful one-act opera brings the meaning of the holiday season home for all. Through their encounters with the Three Kings and a magic star, shepherd boy Amahl and his mother learn how unselfish love and good deeds can work miracles.
Thursday, December 4 at 7:30 pm
Friday, December 5 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, December 6 at 2:00 pm & 7:30 pm
Enjoy family activities 30 minutes before and photos/autographs with the artists after each show!
St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 8817 S. Broadway, Highlands Ranch, CO 80129 [venue website], Denver Metro
Tickets $25; $15 for students (ID will be checked at the door); Subscribers receive 20% discount, call the Central City Opera Box Office at 303-292-6700. Tickets available now!
Synopsis - Spoiler Alert!
Setting: the Middle East at the birth of Christ
The crippled shepherd boy Amahl lives with his widowed mother. One winter evening, though the boy swears he sees a remarkable star in the sky, his mother does not believe him and he is sent to bed. Then they hear the sound of approaching travelers and a knock at the door. Amahl reports to his mother that there are three magnificently dressed men on the doorstop. This, too, she does not believe until she sees it for herself.
The travelers are admitted to the hut. They declare that they are Kings in search of the newborn Christ Child, and share news of the gifts they are bringing to Him. Amahl’s mother, who had left to share news with the neighbors, returns with shepherds who add their own gifts to those of the Three Kings.
That night, while the Kings are sleeping, Amahl’s mother is tempted to take some of the gold they are carrying so as to better provide for her son. She is caught but promptly forgiven, as the Kings declare that the Christ Child has less need of gold than Amahl. Amahl offers his own crutch – his only possession – as a gift for the Christ Child, and in return for his selfless generosity, he finds that suddenly he can walk unaided. Wanting to honor the Christ Child himself, Amahl departs with the Three Kings.
Synopsis by Betsy Schwarm
John Healy, treble, returns to Central City Opera in the role of Amahl after appearing as Miles in the acclaimed 2012 production of Benjamin Britten’sThe Turn of the Screw. Now a freshman at Denver School of the Arts, John sang with the Colorado Children’s Chorale from 2008-2014; his final two years were in the National Tour Choir. He recently performed the role of Young Harvey in I am Harvey Milk with the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus.
Central City Opera:
Miles, The Turn of the Screw, 2012; Chorus, Carmen, 2011
Mezzo-soprano Valerie Nicolosi performs the role of Amahl’s mother. One of Central City Opera’s Ensemble Artists, Ms. Nicolosi not only performs year-round with CCO, but also has performed many other leading operatic roles, concert works and recitals across the country. She debuted on the American operatic stage in the title role of Rossini’s La Cenerentola with Opera Providence. She performs a variety of beloved mezzo characters from the favorite pants roles of Cherubino, Orlovskky and Hansel, to the heart-stopping Rossini Heroines like Rosina and Cenerentola. She has also appeared as a soloist with the Knoxville Symphony, Chattanooga Symphony, Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra, Hartford Festival Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of the Springs, Boston Ballet and many others. In 2008 she released her first CD recording, The Rosary in Song, based on her popular recital by the same name.
Central City Opera:
Following his CCO debut performing the role of Father Grenville in Dead Man Walking this past summer, tenor Jason Baldwin will take the stage in the role of King Kaspar. Previously, Mr. Baldwin has performed the roles of Don José in Carmen with both the Utah Festival Opera and Opera Theatre of the Rockies; Tybalt in Roméo et Juliette and Ernesto in Don Pasquale with the Utah Opera; Spoletta in Tosca, Pang in Turandot, Adolfo Pirelli in Sweeney Todd with Opera Colorado, and more. Most recently, Mr. Baldwin returned to Utah Opera to sing Arcadio in Florencia en el Amazonas, Loveland Opera Theatre as Rodolfo in La bohème and a concert with the Longmont Symphony. Mr. Baldwin is also an Ensemble and Teaching Artist for Central City Opera.
Central City Opera:
Father Grenville, Dead Man Walking, 2014; Ensemble and Teaching Artist
Rodolfo (Guest Artist), La bohème, University of Colorado; Arcadio, Florencia en el Amazonas, Utah Opera; Rodolfo, La bohème, Loveland Opera
Baritone Thomas Kittle joins the cast as King Melchior. Previous roles include Schaunard in La bohéme, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Valentin inFaust, Escamillo in Carmen, Peter, the father, in Hänsel und Gretel, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, Major-General Stanley in Pirates of Penzance, and Curly in Rogers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!. Most recently, he performed the title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Tom was awarded first place in the 2013 Denver Lyric Opera Guild (DLOG)’s annual vocal competition and received the Young Artist Encouragement award at the 2013 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Tom also directs with Denver-based Catchpenny Kids Theater.
Bass-baritone Antoine Hodge returns to a favorite in his repertoire as King Balthazar in Central City Opera’s Amahl and the Night Visitorsfollowing his performance in the same role for Opera Fort Collins. Recent performances included the regional premiere of Liza Lehmann’s In A Persian Garden, his debut with the Colorado Springs Chamber Orchestra as the bass soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, and his debut with the Greeley Philharmonic as bass soloist in Mozart’s Requiem. Past roles include Colline in Puccini’s La bohème, Mr. Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Mr. Gobineau in The Medium, Yundt in Curtis Bryant’sThe Anarchists, Don Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro, as well as a host of comprimario roles on professional stages in Colorado and Georgia, including Opera Colorado, Opera Fort Collins, Atlanta Opera, and others. This year, Antoine will make another debut as bass soloist in Gerald Finzi’s In terra pax with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic.
Central City Opera:
Past Ensemble Artist
Currently the Producing Artistic Director of the Denver Center Theatre Company (DCTC), Kent Thompson will debut with Central City Opera asDirector of Amahl and the Night Visitors. With the DCTC, he has directed productions of Hamlet, Just Like Us, Other Desert Cities, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Plainsong,Eventide, Amadeus, The Liar and Measure for Measure, among others. Two of Kent’s major accomplishments since moving to Denver have been the establishment of the Colorado New Play Summit, a premier national festival for new American plays, and the Women’s Voices Fund, an endowment that supports the development of new plays by women. Prior to moving to Denver, he was the producing artistic director of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival for 16 years. In 1991, Kent created the Southern Writers’ Project (SWP), designed to commission and develop new plays, that presented 16 world premieres during his tenure.
The Director of Music and Arts at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch, James Ramsey will fulfill the role of Music Director for this production. Mr. Ramsey’s credits include Music Director of the Littleton Chorale, Chorus Master for the Colorado Music Festival and Assistant Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. James has led tour performances across Great Britain, Germany, Czech Republic, and France. He holds degrees from Middle Tennessee State University and the Eastman School of Music with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Full Production Credits
|Music Director||James Ramsey|
|Assistant to the Director||Bryce Alexander|
|Artistic Associate, DPAC||Emily Tarquin|
|Lighting Designer||Matt Plamp|
|Costume Supervisor||Marge Harper|
|Stage Manager||Katie Preissner|
|Assistant Stage Manager||Erin Joy Swank|
|King Kaspar||Jason Baldwin|
|King Melchior||Thomas Kittle|
|King Balthazar||Antoine Hodge|
|Dancers||Kate Vallee, Reagan Fenske|
|Chorus||Members of St. Luke’s UMC choir and Performing Arts Academy|
About the Composer
Born in Italy, Gian Carlo Menotti (1911 – 2007) began to compose under his mother’s guidance at the age of seven and was soon studying composition seriously. In 1928 following the death of her husband, his mother took the youth to the United States, where he completed his musical training in Philadelphia. After graduating with honors in 1933, Menotti completed his first mature composition, the one-act opera buffa Amelia Goes to the Ball, which premiered in Philadelphia April 1, 1937. By his death in 2007, he had composed over twenty operas, both for professional performers and for children, in each case crafting both the music and the librettos.
Of those many operas, the best-known, and amongst the most frequently performed of all operas by any composer, is Amahl and the Night Visitors. The work was written on a commission from NBC, which wanted a television opera in time for Christmas, but left the choice of story up to Menotti. Such freedom can be liberating, but the composer soon found himself with time running out and no plan in mind. He later described the situation in this way: “One November afternoon as I was walking rather gloomily through the rooms of the Metropolitan Museum. I chanced to stop in front of the “Adoration of the Kings” by Hieronymus Bosch, and as I was looking at it, suddenly I heard again, coming from the distant blue hills, the weird song of the Three Kings. I then realized that they had come back to me and had brought me a gift.” The opera aired Christmas Eve of 1951, and was presented on stage at the New York City Opera the following April.
It is worth adding that, in Menotti’s Italian boyhood, the Three Kings filled the role filled for many American children by Santa Claus, bringing gifts to children at the Christmas season. Moreover, the composer recalled a childhood impression that one of the kings was deaf, so this detail becomes a small plot element in the opera. Menotti also makes a point of evoking the pipes and dances of shepherds, who play such a central role in the original Biblical story.
Menotti himself would not wish one to analyze the score too closely. Of his music, he wrote, “my operas are not cold, intellectual creatures: they are rather nice to look at, impulsive and warm-hearted… Although you may enjoy listening to their voices through a speaker, if you are to know them well, I still recommend that you should spend an evening with them at the theater.” So with the composer’s advice in mind, let us go no further with details; let the work stand on its own feet, ideally in a live performance.
By Betsy Schwarm