Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Amahl recounts musical story of boy who cried Magi

Posted By on Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 3:49 PM

click to enlarge AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS: King Balthazar (Gerald Yarbray, from left), King Melchior (Dan Altman), King Kaspar (Brendan Callahan-Fitzgerald) and Amahl (Ruben Roy)
  • AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS: King Balthazar (Gerald Yarbray, from left), King Melchior (Dan Altman), King Kaspar (Brendan Callahan-Fitzgerald) and Amahl (Ruben Roy)

Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors looks like a work from another era, and not just because it takes place on the night of the Nativity 2,000 years ago. NBC commissioned the short opera, which was broadcast live in 1951. It’s difficult to imagine one of today’s networks broadcasting a live, original opera, even one in English.

Theatrical Outfit teams up with the Georgia State University school of music to produce a modest but enjoyable version of Amahl and the Night Visitors, a production that greatly benefits from offering an alternative to the perennial holiday plays. In an isolated corner of the Holy Land, disabled Amahl (Ruben Roy) lives in poverty with his worried mother (Jenny Kim). Amahl maintains such imaginative optimism, he expects great things to happen if he and his mom have to resort to begging for food.

Instead, a Christmas miracle appears in the form of the three Magi (Dan Altman, Brendan Callahan-Fitzgerald and Gerald Yarbray), who seek shelter at Amahl’s home. Amahl features some humor up front, such as his mother’s skepticism when the boy informs her that not one, not two, but three kings are knocking at the door in the middle of the night. Amahl and half-deaf King Kaspar (Callahan-Fitzgerald, hamming it up) have a brief bit of vaudeville-style shtick involving a parrot.

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(Photo by James Christerson)

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