Denver, Colo. (November 5, 2014) – Central City Opera (CCO) partners with St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch to present Gian Carlo Menotti’s enduring holiday opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, December 4, 5 and 6. The production will be performed in English with a live professional orchestra at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church (UMC) in Highlands Ranch with an approximate running time of one hour. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students with a valid ID. 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. We are very excited to collaborate on this new staging of Menotti’s touching tale with Jim Ramsey and Kent Thompson in Highlands Ranch,” says Central City Opera General/Artistic Director Pat Pearce.

Amahl and the Night Visitors is an enduring hit that has been popular since its premier 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, despite a disability, 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.  When three splendid strangers knock on the door and ask to rest in their tiny home, Amahl is thrilled and fascinated by everything about them.  When the visitors describe the miraculous child they are seeking, both Amahl and his mother are moved to give reverence to the child as well. Their humble faith conjures a miracle.

Amahl and the Night Visitors Production Team and Performing Artists
Currently the Producing Artistic Director of the Denver Center Theatre Company (DCTC), Kent Thompson will debut with Central City Opera as Director 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.

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’s The 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.

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.

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.

Baritone Thomas Kittle joins the cast as King Melchior. Previous roles include Schaunard in La bohéme, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Valentin in Faust, 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 Visitors following 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.

Members of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church (SLUMC) and the SLUMC Performing Arts Academy will be performing as the chorus.

Discover Amahl and the Night Visitors – November 13 in Highlands Ranch
Join Central City Opera and discover the family-friendly opera Amahl and the Night Visitors through song and craft on Thursday, November 13 from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm during Kids Zone at the James H. LaRue Highlands Ranch Library located 9292 Ridgeline Blvd, Highlands Ranch, CO 80129. A Central City Opera Ensemble Artist will perform as one of the Three Kings singing about his treasure followed by a special themed craft in which children can create a treasure of their own! This event is free and open to kids in grades 2-6. No registration required. For more information, visit www.centralcityopera.org/discoveramahl.

Central City Opera 2015 Festival
July 11-August 9, 2015
La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi
Man of La Manchathe Tony Award winning musical by Leigh, Darion & Wasserman
The Prodigal Son by Benjamin Britten
The Blind by Lera Auerbach
Don Quixote and the Duchess by Joseph Bodin de Boismortier

Central City Opera’s 2015 Festival features five productions performed and delivered in non-traditional ways. Verdi’s opera about the love and loss of a tuberculosis-stricken mistress, La Traviata, and the Tony Award winning musical of a brave knight’s adventures, Man of La Mancha, will be performed in the intimate Central City Opera House. The final three shows are one-act operas with performances in alternate spaces from historic buildings in Central City to diverse venues throughout Colorado including locations in Aspen, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Denver and Boulder. The 2015 one-act operas include The Prodigal Son, Britten’s church parable about the return of a wayward son; The Blind, an operatic feast for the senses about a group of blind people who have lost their way; and Don Quixote and the Duchess, the story of a practical joke played on a courageous knight.

Two-pack subscriptions for Central City Opera’s 2015 Festival productions of La Traviata and Man of La Mancha start at just $38 and provide up to a 25% discount on single tickets. Subscribers also save $10 when they purchase the One Act three-pack which includes The Blind, The Prodigal Son and Don Quixote and the Duchess.  Single tickets for Central City Opera’s 2015 Festival will be available this spring. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.CentralCityOpera.org or call 303-292-6700.

Celebrating its 82nd 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.

Amahl and the Night Visitors Cast List
Amahl – John Healy
Mother – Valerie Nicolosi
King Kaspar – Jason Baldwin
King Melchior – Thomas Kittle
King Balthazar – Antoine Hodge
Page (TBD)
Director – Kent Thompson
Music Director – James Ramsey
Chorus – members of St. Luke’s UMC choir and Performing Arts Academy

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