Denver, Colo. (November 19, 2015) – Central City Opera (CCO) partners with Trinity United Methodist Church (TUMC) in Denver to present Gian Carlo Menotti’s enduring holiday opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, December 11 at 7 pm; December 12 and 13 at 2 pm. The production will be performed in English with a live professional orchestra at Trinity United Methodist Church (TUMC) located at 1820 Broadway in downtown Denver.

Each show begins with the Christmas cantata “Run Ye Shepherds to the Light” performed by Trinity’s Chancel Chamber Choir and TUMC organist Norman Sutphin, along with a holiday sing-along. The 45-minute opera will follow for a total running time for each performance of 90 minutes. Family activities, including a star ornament craft and an origami star box, will be FREE and open to all beginning 45 minutes prior to each show. Food collection barrels will also be available in the family activity area for those interested in donating non-perishable food items to Metro Caring (www.metrocaring.org).

Tickets are $30 for adults and $20 for students with a valid ID, ages 5 to 18. Tickets can be purchased at www.CentralCityOpera.org/amahl, by calling the Central City Opera Box Office at 303-292-6700 or in person at Central City Opera, 400 S Colorado Blvd, Suite 525, 80246. Central City Opera subscribers receive a 20% discount.

“While a good deal of our output is concentrated in the summer months, we wanted to provide the community with our brand of storytelling during the Holiday season. For the second year, we are excited to present this touching tale and are happy to be collaborating with Trinity United Methodist Church for this year’s production in downtown Denver,” says Central City Opera General/Artistic Director Pat Pearce. “In addition, our special partnership with Trinity has allowed us to work together to reach out to Denver’s homeless and underserved low-income communities and provide them with the opportunity to experience the magic of opera.”

Amahl and the Night Visitors is an enduring hit that has been popular since its premiere in 1951. This family-friendly opera has enjoyed thousands of performances and has been touted as an opera that remains meaningful because it’s both concisely written and has touches of whimsy with a message for the season that reaches home for the audience.

Commissioned by NBC as the first opera written for television, Amahl and the Night Visitors debuted on December 24, 1951 becoming the first network television Christmas special to become an annual tradition. Menotti drew inspiration for the opera from Hieronymus Bosch’s The Adoration of the Magi, which hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and from his childhood in Italy where gifts were brought at Christmas by the Three Kings instead of Santa Claus.

Set near Bethlehem just after the birth of Christ, Amahl and the Night Visitors tells the story of Amahl, a poor shepherd boy who lives with his mother in extreme poverty. Despite a disability, he is normal and inquisitive and is known (to his mother, at least) as a teller of tall tales.  His most recent story is about a star with a tail that moves across the sky like a chariot on fire. By the light of the magic star, three splendid strangers (the Three Kings) knock on the door and ask to rest in their tiny home. Amahl is thrilled and fascinated by everything about them. While they are visiting, his mother’s desperation to provide for her son drives her to steal from the Kings. However, instead of punishing her, they help the boy and his mother. The visitors describe the miraculous child they are seeking and both Amahl and his mother are moved to give reverence to the child as well. Their humble faith creates a miracle.

Community Partnerships for Amahl and the Night Visitors

Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors brings to light the choices that people must make when faced with desperate circumstances. With this theme in mind, Central City Opera and Trinity United Methodist Church are partnering for this production of Amahl and the Night Visitors with organizations that serve Denver’s homeless and low-income population, communities faced with these sorts of decisions every day. Together with the Women’s Homelessness Initiative (www.chumdenver.com/WHI.html) and The Gathering Place (www.tgpdenver.org), CCO and TUMC will be providing the opportunity (at no cost to attendees) for those served by these organizations to experience the opera by attending the dress rehearsal for Amahl and the Night Visitors. CCO and TUMC will also be providing collection barrels for non-perishable food items at each performance to be distributed by Metro Caring.

Amahl and the Night Visitors Production Team and Performing Artists
Michael Shell, who last worked with Central City Opera as the director for Dido and Aeneas in 2008, returns as Stage Director for this new production. After making his directorial debut in 2006, Mr. Shell has gone on to direct for Atlanta Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, Opera Omaha, Opera San Jose, Opera Tampa, Opera North, Virginia Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Wexford Festival Opera, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis.
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, founder of the St. Luke’s Performing Arts Academy and Assistant Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. 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.
Reed Haymons, treble, makes his debut with Central City Opera in the role of Amahl. Reed has been a member of the Colorado Children’s Chorale for three years. Having progressed quickly though the training choirs, he is now a member of the Tour Choir.  Reed is a fifth grader at Cherry Hills Village Elementary and has appeared in both film and local productions. He recently appeared as Winthrop in the Colorado Symphony production of The Music Man. He is also an avid tennis and lacrosse player.
Mezzo-soprano Valerie Nicolosi performs the role of Amahl’s mother. One of Central City Opera’s Ensemble Artists, Ms. Nicolosi not only performs 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.

The Three Kings for this production include tenor Joseph Gaines as Kaspar after his most recent appearances with CCO as Basilio in The Marriage of Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro) and Howard Boucher in Dead Man Walking in 2014. Mr. Gaines is also an alumni of CCO’s Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program. Internationally-known bass-baritone Ashraf Sewailam performs the role of Balthazar after his performances in the state recently as the King in Aïda with Opera Colorado; and baritone Matt Moeller performs the role of Melchior after his appearance last summer as Father in The Prodigal Son while he was also a Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program Apprentice Artist. Central City Opera Ensemble Artist Benjamin Wood will perform the role of the Page.       
Members of Trinity United Methodist Chancel Chamber Choir and Youth Choir will be performing as the chorus. For a complete list of the cast and production team, along with bio information, visit www.centralcityopera.org/amahl.
Photos are available by visiting www.centralcityopera.org/photos. Scroll down to 2014 productions and then click on “Amahl and the Night Visitors (2014)”. Video is also available on the Central City Opera YouTube page located at https://www.youtube.com/user/centralcityopera. For a downloadable We Transfer video link, contact Valerie Hamlin at vhamlin@centralcityopera.org.


Dress rehearsal tickets for Amahl and the Night Visitors on December 9 at 7 pm are available by RSVP to those served by the Women’s Homelessness Initiative and The Gathering Place, but is closed to the public.  The dress rehearsal is open to the media and those interested in attending should contact Valerie Hamlin at vhamlin@centralcityopera.org or 303-292-6500, ext. 108.

Central City Opera’s 2016 Festival – July 9 to Aug. 7
Central City Opera’s 2016 Festival features four productions with a wide range of offerings from classic operatic repertoire to comic Italian opera and contemporary works. The company’s first two productions of the 2016 Festival will be performed in the company’s intimate Central City Opera House and include the 60th anniversary production of Douglas Moore’s The Ballad of Baby Doe, the true story of love and loss during the Colorado mining boom, followed by Puccini’s Tosca, a heart wrenching tale of tragic love with some of opera’s most famous arias. The final two shows are one-act operas to be performed in alternate spaces in Central City and across the state. John Musto and Mark Campbell’s Later the Same Evening features figures who come to life in Edward Hopper paintings and Mozart’s The Impresario is a comic opera about an entrepreneur searching for a company of performers.

Subscriptions for the 2016 Festival start at just $38 and are available to the general public starting December 15. Visit www.centralcityopera.org for information.

Celebrating its 83rd year, Central City Opera is the nation’s fifth-oldest opera company, located just 35 miles west of Denver in one of Colorado’s official National Landmark Historic Districts. The company continues to present artistically excellent professional opera in its annual summer festival; to offer career-entry training to young singers; to produce education and community service programs; and to preserve and maintain the Opera House and 30 other Victorian-era properties.
Central City Opera’s Amahl and the Night Visitors

Cast and Artistic Team

Amahl – Reed Haymons

Amahl’s Mother – Valerie Nicolosi

King Melchior – Matt Moeller

King Kaspar – Joseph Gaines

King Balthazar – Ashraf Sewailam

Page to the kings – Benjamin Wood

Chorus of Shepherds – members of Trinity United Methodist Church Choirs

Director – Michael Shell

Music Director/Conductor – James Ramsey




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