Amahl and the Night Visitors: A Christmas Opera
Christmas Opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors” Dec. 8
Livermore Valley Opera presents seasonal family favorite
LIVERMORE, CALIF. – For the first time, Livermore Valley Opera, in collaboration with First Presbyterian Church of Livermore, presents the long-standing Christmas season favorite Amahl and the Night Visitors, a one-act opera by Gian Carlo Menotti. Performed in English, this story of a crippled boy and his mother who are visited by the three kings on their way to Bethlehem, offers a unique opportunity for holiday family entertainment. Details are as follows:
Amahl and the Night Visitors
Saturday, December 8, 2012
2pm and 5pm
First Presbyterian Church of Livermore
2020 Fifth Street
Tickets: $12-$25, available for purchase at www.livermorevalleyopera.com and at the door.
“We are very excited about bringing this unique chamber opera production to the Tri-Valley,” says Raquel Holt, LVO Board member. “This opera is so delightful with a heartwarming story that is perfect for families.”
Amahl was originally written for television and was commissioned by NBC and first performed by the NBC Opera Theatre December 24, 1951 when it was broadcast live as the debut production of the Hallmark Hall of Fame. Menotti wrote Amahl with the stage in mind even though it was intended for television and asked his friend and fellow composer Samuel Barber to complete the orchestrations. Upon completion of the first rehearsal prior to the premiere, NBC’s Symphony conductor Arturo Toscanini told Menotti that the opera was the best he had ever done.
Amahl became an annual Christmas special that appeared on or around Christmas Eve through most of the 1960s and 1970s, until it went to cable television in the early 1980s.
Though the performance of Amahl will be the first for LVO, it is the fourth for director and producer Sylvia Amorino who collaborated with LVO’s Artistic Director Alexander Katsman for her opera company Solo Opera from 2001 to 2003.
“When Alex Katsman asked me to direct and produce Amahl for LVO with him this December, I said, ‘Count me in!’” says Amorino. “I can’t imagine working with anyone else. When Alexander plays and conducts, his heart and soul is shared with everyone. This is especially true in the Amahl opera. Every time I heard him conduct the opening bars of the opera, it would bring tears to my eyes. It is heart-warming music and he conducts it very well. Like Alexander, I am dedicated and passionate about my directing and take it very seriously. I think we make a great operatic team.”
Amorino says that because the chamber opera is in English and under an hour, it is the perfect piece for children and families. And, because the main character Amahl is a young boy, children can identify with his role.
The opera typically stars a young boy soprano as Amahl, but for LVO’s production, the part is double-casted due to the back-to-back performances in one day. Jonathan Telander, who already has an extensive opera career at the age of 11, recently performed as Gherardino in the Stockton Opera Association’s production of Gianni Schicchi. Sophie Morgan, a local singer and eighth-grader from Livermore will share the role with Telander. Morgan, who most recently performed in LVO’s production of La bohéme, is also a member of Livermore’s award-winning Cantabella Children’s Chorus.
Other cast members include mezzo-soprano Michelle Rice as Amahl’s mother who has performed in a number of LVO productions including Roméo et Juliette, and solo performances at LVO’s annual Opera in the Vineyard. The cast of shepherds, members of First Presbyterian Church of Livermore’s own choir, is led by choral director Janet Holmes, who will also provide piano accompaniment for the opera.
With the opera’s Christmastime appeal, young singers and heart-warming story, Amahl makes for a great family holiday experience says director Amorino.
“Amahl is a wonderful way to introduce children to opera. This is LVO’s opportunity to create a new generation of opera lovers. And, with a story of a mother, a boy, a star, the Three Wise Men, and a miracle, you couldn’t ask for a more meaningful way to start the holiday season!”
Jonathan Telander, Amahl
Jonathan is an 11 year-old sixth grader who is educated at home. For the past two years he has sung the boy treble part in the Matins Repository at the annual performance of Lessons and Carols at St. John’s Anglican Church in Stockton. Jonathan has also performed as part of the chorus in Stockton Opera Association’s La Bohème (2011), Pagliacci (2012), and in the University of the Pacific’s production of The Magic Flute (2012). In January of this year he was chosen to play the role of Gherardino in Stockton Opera Association’s production of Gianni Schicchi (2012). He is a member of the Stockton Youth Chorale, conducted by Joan Calonico, and has sung with this organization for the past three years. In addition to singing, Jonathan enjoys playing piano and organ. He has studied piano for the past 6 years, and is in his second full year of organ study. When not singing or playing his instruments, Jonathan enjoys bike riding, kayaking, and camping with his family.
Sophie Morgan, Amahl
Sophie Morgan is 13. She is an eighth grade student at Valley Montessori School in Livermore and a member of Cantabella Children's Chorus. This summer CCC went to Cincinnati, Ohio to compete in the World Choir Games where they won two silver medals. Past productions Sophie has been involved in include Tosca and La Bohème with LVO at the Bankhead Theatre, Julius Caesar (in which she played Caesar) at the Cal Shakes summer camp in 2012 and Cinderella the Pantomime at Amador Theatre in 2010. She is also an Irish dancer with the McGrath School of Irish Dance in Dublin and dances on stage at the St. Patrick's Day Festival every year.
Michelle Rice, Amahl’s Mother
Michelle Rice, mezzo-soprano, performs the role of the Mother after singing Gertrude (Roméo et Juliette) with LVO in 2011. Recent performances include the Voice of Antonia’s Mother (Contes d’Hoffmann) with West Bay Opera, the mezzo soloist in Vino and Verdi with Fresno Grand Opera, Mère Marie (Dialogues des Carmélites) with the Opera Academy of California, and Mercedes and Carmen cover (Carmen) with Fresno Grand Opera. Past roles include Suzuki (Madama Butterfly), Mrs. Grose (The Turn of the Screw), Flora Bervoix (La traviata), Zweite Dame (Die Zauberflöte), Berta (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Lola (Cavalleria rusticana), Irene (Tamburlaine), Savitri (Holst, Savitri), Clara (Converey, Clara), the Mother / Witch (Hansel and Gretel), and many others, with companies such as Opera Cleveland, Annapolis Opera, Summer Opera, Opera Vivente, Maryland Opera Studio, Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia, Washington Concert Opera, and the Châteauville Foundation. She has appeared with groups such as MidAmerica Productions at Carnegie Hall, Prince George’s Philharmonic, and the Seattle Early Music Guild, performing works including the Verdi Requiem, Mozart's Coronation Mass, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Schumann's Das Paradies und die Peri, Händel's Messiah, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, and Vivaldi's Gloria. Upcoming performances include engagements with Billings Symphony, Opera San José, and West Bay Opera.
Alexander Katsman, Artistic Director and Music Conductor
Alexander is the Artistic and Music Director for Livermore Valley Opera. An alumnus of the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, he received his M.M. from St. Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory and his B.M. cum laude from Mussorgsky College of Music in St. Petersburg, Russia. Since his arrival in the United States, Alexander has been sought after as a conductor and collaborative pianist. He has conducted for Opera San Jose, West Bay Opera, Martinez Opera, Bayshore Lyric Opera, Berkeley West Edge Opera, Oakland Lyric Opera, Solo Opera, San Francisco Lyric Opera, Diablo Light Opera, Peninsula Teen Opera, Cal State University East Bay, and Diablo Valley College. His conducting credits include more than 60 opera, operetta, and musical theater productions. Mr. Katsman is on the conducting faculties of Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute and Opera Academy of California. He was also an Artistic Director for the Alexander Vocal Series, premier vocal recital series in Piedmont, California.
Sylvia Amorino, Stage Director, Producer
Sylvia Amorino is excited to be returning to Livermore Valley Opera for the second time to direct and produce Amahl and the Night Visitors. She first directed for LVO in 2002 for their production of La Bohème with Sara Jobin conducting. Ms. Amorino is no stranger to the San Francisco Bay Area as an opera director and producer. She is the Artistic Director and Founder of her own chamber opera company, Solo Opera, based in the Concord/ Walnut Creek area. For Solo Opera she has directed and produced the operas, The Telephone (2000), The Medium (2000), Amahl and the Night Visitors (2001, 2002, 2003), The Old Maid and the Thief (2004), and A Hand of Bridge (2004) at Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. Through Solo Opera’s outreach program S.O.L.O. (Scenes from Opera and Light Opera) she directed and produced numerous opera scenes, gala concerts, as well as the operas The Telephone, The Impresario, and Bastien and Bastienna. Upcoming Solo Opera projects include Menotti’s Chip and His Dog and Hansel and Gretel. Also, as a stage director, Ms. Amorino was Resident Stage Director for six years on the staff of Holy Names University Opera Scenes Workshop, working with conductor, Monroe Kanouse. In March-May 2003, she directed and designed Riders to the Sea by Vaughan Williams for a collaboration with Solo Opera, Holy Names University and Goat Hall Productions in San Francisco. With a BA and MM in Vocal Performance, Ms. Amorino is also a NATS voice teacher of 30 years and maintains a private studio in the Concord area. Her vocal article, “TMD and the Singing Voice” was published in several magazines including the NATS Journal.
Livermore Valley Opera was founded in 1992, and presents fully-staged operas at Livermore’s Bankhead Theater in the spring and fall. This new theater features excellent lines of sight and acoustics, helping the opera to attract talented singers and stage directors for their performances.
In 2011, LVO was granted full status as a Professional Company Member of Opera America, the national organization dedicated to this unique art form. We combine the talents of professional musicians, stage directors, principal singers, and designers with the dedication and practical abilities of volunteers filling such critical roles as board members, chorus, stage crew, and set builders to reach our artistic goals.
Livermore Valley Opera is a regional opera company and a 501(c) 3 non-profit charitable arts organization. For more information, visit www.livermorevalleyopera.com.
- Venue: First Presbyterian Church in Livermore
- Date: Sat December 8, 2012 2:00pm
- City: Livermore
- Price Range: $12-$25
- Tickets: 925-960-9210
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