Amahl and the Night Visitors - a delightful Christmas opera

Charles Black, Barrie Bradley, Lucas Minor and Mike NolanCharles Black, Barrie Bradley, Lucas Minor and Mike Nolan

The Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts at IU South Bend is proud to present Amahl and the Night Visitors, one of the most popular American operas by Gian Carlo Menotti, on Saturday, December 4, 2010 at 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. in the university’s Campus Auditorium in Northside Hall.  This production promises to be one of the highlights of the holiday season.

Amahl and the Night Visitors is a timeless story of the power of faith and the meaning of love.  The one-act opera in English tells the story of Amahl, a poor crippled boy, who lives with his mother in a village somewhere on the road to Bethlehem.  When the Three Kings, following the star in the East, seek shelter for the night, the lives of Amahl and his mother are changed forever.  The opera is a seasonal inspiration to people of all faiths that has a universal message of giving.

Playing the lead role of Amahl is twelve-year-old Michael Ferlic, who is in the sixth grade at Saint Joseph Parish Catholic School in South Bend.  The roles of the Mother, the Three Kings and the Page are performed by Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts students, Stephanie Berry, Jeremy Weyer, Antwon D. Williams, Victor Kamwendo and Joel Stockton.  Students and community members portray the Shepherds.

This collaboration between the music area and the IUSB Theatre Company is directed by Lecturer in Voice Alicia Purcell, and features the IUSB Philharmonic’s conductor Jameson Cooper.  Carolyn Hine-Johnson, assistant professor of dance is the choreographer, Jennifer Fry is the costume designer, Tim Hanson is the technical director and Inseung Park is the set designer.

Menotti’s work is recognized all over the country.   Menotti was born in Cadegliano, Italy in 1911. He traveled to the United States to attend school in Philadelphia after his father passed away.  Menotti compares his journey to the United States to Amahl’s journey with the kings, because they both had to leave their mothers. The opera was inspired by "The Adoration of the Magi," an oil and gold on wood painting by Hieronymus Bosch. What makes this opera different from most operas is that it was written for television. Commissioned by NBC for television in 1951, and first performed at Studio 8H at Rockefeller Center, Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors has become an annual holiday tradition enjoyed by children and families around the world. The opera was performed for the first time on Christmas Eve, 1951. This recording was viewed annually until the recording was lost.

Tia Patrick, an IU South Bend sophomore and one of six lead dancers says, “I had never been in an opera before, so it has been a little challenging, but it’s really coming along.”  The message of opera is, “giving to others and loving one another is the biggest gift anyone can give,” says Patrick.

Amahl and the Night Visitors will be heading to Chicago on December 7, 2010. They will be performing at the McCrone Center of the Ada S. McKinley Community Services Organization. Last year IU South Bend art student Michael Bubelenyi was commissioned to paint A Beacon for Many for the center. The organization’s mission is to “assist individuals and families who, because of disabilities or other limiting conditions, need help in finding and pursuing paths leading to healthy, productive and fulfilling lives.” The organization helps more than 12,000 people in the community.

Tickets are free to students and children and are available through the Arts Box Office located in Northside Hall by the campus auditorium. Tickets for adults and seniors are $5-$9. For more information please visit or call 574.520.4203.