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Opera Workshop To Bring Italian Magi Story To Campus

Nov. 17, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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SHSU’s Opera Workshop will get into the holiday spirit by presenting Gian-Carlo Menotti’s childhood memories of the Magi stories, sung in English, for this year’s production of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” Friday and Saturday (Dec. 2-3), at 7:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center Concert Hall.

“Amahl and the Night Visitors” is told from the perspective of Amahl, a disabled boy who can walk only with a crutch and has a problem with telling tall tales and, occasionally, lying.

As the story opens, Amahl is sitting outside playing his shepherd's pipe and witnesses an amazing star "as big as a window" outside over their roof.

After bedtime there is a knock at the door and Amahl is amazed when he sees three splendidly dressed kings—Kaspar, Melchior and Balthazar—who tell Amahl and his mother that they are on a long journey to bring gifts to a wondrous child and they would like to rest at their house.

Amahl tells the kings that he was once a shepherd, but his mother had to sell his sheep and that now they will have to go begging.

Later that evening, while the kings are resting, the mother attempts to steal for her son some of the kings' gold that was meant for the Christ child and is thwarted by the kings' page.

When Amahl wakes to find the page grabbing his mother, he attacks him. Seeing Amahl's weak defense of his mother and understanding the motives for the attempted theft, King Melchior says she may keep the gold as the Holy Child will not need earthly power or wealth to build his kingdom.

The mother says she has waited all her life for such a king and asks the magi to take back the gold. Wishing then to send a gift but having nothing to send, Amahl offers his crutch and his leg is miraculously healed.

He leaves with the kings to see the Christ Child and give his crutch in thanks for being healed.
“It can be noted that in Italy, children traditionally hang stockings in anticipation of a visit from the Three Wise Men (I re magi), who along with a witch character named Befana, bring gifts to children on the Feast of Epiphany,” said Rebecca Renfro Grimes, Opera Workshop director.

“Thus to a young Menotti, the childhood wonder and magic of Christmas did not center around Santa Claus, but rather Kaspar, Melchior and Balthazar.”

Following the Opera Workshop production, attendees will have the opportunity to meet the artists and purchase holiday artwork made expressly by SHSU art students for the production, as well as mementos of the performance.

Proceeds of the sales will benefit the SHSU Department of Art and the SHSU Opera Workshop.

Tickets are $17 for general admission and $14 senior citizens and SHSU students. They can be purchased or reserved in advance by contacting the PAC Box Office at 936.294.2339 or tickets@shsu.edu.

For more information, call the School of Music at 936.294.1360.


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Writer: Jennifer Gauntt
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