From Television to Stage:
Menotti's Opera for all Ages
Posted: Thursday, November 15th
Opera Carolina reminds us what the holiday spirit is truly about in GianCarlo Menotti's perennial opera favorite, Amahl & the Night Visitors. As the first composer to have his work commissioned for television, Menotti strove to create an art form that appeals to a popular audience while maintaining the highest standards of musical achievement.
Amahl & the Night Visitors
Amahl, a crippled twelve-year-old boy prone to exaggerations and storytelling, learns that generosity and forgiveness are among the greatest gifts ever given or received. One night, three wealthy kings knock on Amahl's door looking for a place to rest from their journey. Although they have little to offer, Amahl and his mother open their small home to the Magi. The kings are following an enormous star that will lead them a Wondrous Child to whom they bring gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Hoping that the Child whom the kings seek is her son, Amahl's mother invites her neighbors to entertain their royal company. That night, distressed by the sight of the kings' wealth and her son's crippling poverty, Amahl's mother steals some of the Magi's gold to help her son. When she is caught by the king's pageboy, Amahl feebly tries to protect his mother from punishment. Finally understanding her motives for stealing, the kings tell Amahl's mother to keep the gold, for the child whom they seek will not need earthly riches to build his kingdom. Amahl's mother wishes she had something to send along to such a child, but she has little to give.
Amahl also has nothing to offer, but he gives his crutch, his only possession, for the kings to present to the Christ Child. Miraculously, as Amahl gives away his crutch his lame leg is healed and decides to leave with the three kings to give thanks to the Child for his immeasurable blessing.
GianCarlo Menotti was born in Cadegliano-Viconago, Italy on July 7, 1911. He gained fame as a composer with Amelia al Ballo (1937), which received performances at the Met. In 1950 and 1955, Menotti was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music from The Consul and The Saint of Bleecker Street, respectively. In 1984, Menotti was awarded the Kennedy Center Honor for achievements in the arts, and in 1991 he was chosen as Musical America's "Musician of the Year." He died February 1, 2007 in Mote Carlo, Monaco at the age of 95.
In 1958, Menotti founded the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy and later the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC in 1978. The 17-day festival became a forum for young artists, both traditional and experimental, to perform a mix of dance, theater, opera, music, and visual arts. In 1951, Menotti was commissioned by NBC to create a made-for-TV holiday opera. On Christmas Eve 1951, Amahl & the Night Visitors entered homes across the country and instantly became a holiday favorite. For the next 15 years, Amahl continued to appear on television during the holidays. In 1978, NBC filmed a new production of Amahl in the Holy Land; the only version of Amahl that was ever released on video.
Opera Carolina's Production of Amahl & the Night Visitors
Although Amahl & the Night Visitors has retired from holiday television, the one-act opera is still a favorite on-stage performance for audiences of all ages. Opera Carolina brings Menotti's spirit and music to the Halton Theater at CPCC on December 22, 2007 at 7:00 pm. Tickets are on sale now for $16 (adult) and $10 (child) and available online at operacarolina.org or at the box office at 704.372.1000.
This production of Amahl & the Night Visitors is made possible by Presenting Sponsor Donald Haack Diamonds. Amahl & the Night Visitors is sung in English. Full cast listings and bios are available at: operacarolina.org/operas. To download images of this production please go to: http://www.operacarolina.org/about_media_photos.php.
Founded in 1948 as the Charlotte Opera Association by a small group of volunteers, Opera Carolina today is the largest professional opera company in the Carolinas with an operating budget of over $3.5 million. The mission of Opera Carolina is to inspire the region's diverse community through the presentation of excellent Opera, Operetta, Music Theater, and Education & Outreach programs that elevate the quality of life in the Carolinas. Opera Carolina is a community resource with a commitment to artistic excellence and community service.
Opera Carolina is supported by the Arts & Science Council-Charlotte/Mecklenburg, Inc., The North Carolina Arts Council, an agency funded by the state of North Carolina, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Opera Carolina is a member of OPERA America.
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