The beloved holiday opera about miracles and what it means to believe in God, “Amahl & the Night Visitors,” receives a special staging on Sat., Dec. 9 at Jesse Lee Church.
Directed by Jesse Lee’s music director, Sarah Fox, the performance is presented in collaboration with the Crystal Theatre in Norwalk. The 4 p.m. show is free, with a goodwill offering.
First performed in 1951, Gian Carlo Menotti’s family-friendly work is said to have been seen by more people than any other opera in history.
“Amahl & the Night Visitors” centers around a poor crippled shepherd named Amahl, who – with his widowed mother – share what little they have with the weary Magi en route to visit a newborn king … and the miracle that follows. The one-act story celebrates the love of family, the promise of faith and the true meaning of giving.
Starring as Amahl is Joshua Elriachi, 12, of Norwalk. Claire Simard, head of Theatre at The Wooster School in Danbury, plays Amahl’s Mother. The Magi will be performed by Matt Surapine, Dan Hague and Dan Satter.
Fox has long wanted to stage the opera, but was ready to give up this fall when she couldn’t find a young singer with the talents to play Amahl. Meanwhile, in Norwalk, Artistic Director Cheryl Kemeny had been prepping Joshua to play Amahl for a Crystal Theatre production but ultimately realized the show wouldn’t come together. That’s when she called Fox to suggest Joshua for the Jesse Lee show.
“On top of the miracle of the plot is the miracle in itself that we are going to get to do this at Jesse Lee,” Fox said, adding that Kemeny also suggested Surapine and Hague, who both have played Magi in past area “Amahl” productions.
Dr. Maggie Astrup, head of the voice and opera programs at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, helped Fox quickly find Satter as the third “Amahl”-experienced Magi.
Following the 45-minute opera and an intermission, the Dec. 9 audience will receive a bonus performance of excerpts from John Rutter’s “Magnificat” sung by the Ridgefield High School Concert Choir and the East Ridge and Scotts Ridge middle school choirs. It will serve as a preview of the choirs’ upcoming performance – with 200 other singers and full orchestra – on Sun., Jan. 7 at Carnegie Hall under the baton of John Rutter himself.
Jesse Lee Church is at 207 Main St. For questions, call the church at (203) 438-8791.
Learn more about all of Jesse Lee’s advent-season happenings, including the annual “Lessons & Carols” service on Sun., Dec. 17 and three Christmas Eve services, at www.jesseleechurch.com.