Concert offers a taste of opera

Posted: Sunday, December 04, 2005

A miracle will happen on stage today at 3 p.m. when the Kenai Central High School Choir Winter Concert will feature “Amahl and the Night Visitors” at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium.

The one-act, 45-minute opera depicts the possibility of miracles and the goodness of people. The opera is directed this year by Carol Ford and the following concert will be directed by Renee Henderson.

“Let me start by telling you it is great,” Ford said. “It starts with music, it ends with music. The music really never stops.”

The story is about the three kings following the star, seeking the Christ child. They stop for the night at the humble home of a poor mother and her son, Amahl, a mischievous cripple.

The well-known story line, written and composed by Gian Carlo Menotti, debuted in 1952 and premiered on NBC for 17 seasons as a television special.

Ford said the mother and child, played by Siri Larson and Brady Perkins, portray a family in real need.

“They are kind of at the end of their rope,” she said.

Ford said the heartbreaking exchanges between the mother and the crippled boy lend a feeling of hope for the entire play.

In the song “Don’t Cry, Mother Dear,” the boy delivers a comical performance, making several jokes when his mother asks him to beg to cheer her up.

“In that song you really see how much they love each other,” Ford said.

While the play delivers a deep spiritual meaning, Ford said the ultimate meaning of the opera is basic.

“We are a part of each other. If one person is in need, that person is as important as everyone,” she said.

The meaning of the play also is a part of our existence, then and today.

“When you get underneath and think about the “so what” of the story, you’re not just talking about something that happened 2,000 years ago, you’re talking about something significant to every single human being,” Ford said.

Ford said the every aspect of the opera is appealing, the full orchestra, the drama, the singing and the costumes.

“It is really going to be beautiful,” she said. “It is worth coming to just see the costumes.”

While Henderson has presented the production in the past, this is Ford’s first time directing an opera.

“I love this show and the kids in it are just fantastic,” she said.

Ford said the performance is a great way to introduce opera to those of every age. The production is short and is easy to understand.

For those who believe Christmas productions are strictly for believers, Ford said “Amahl and the Night Visitors” is for everyone.

“I really think it stands on its own as a secular piece,” she said.

The opera will take place for the first half of the concert and Henderson will direct the choir in songs after.

“This is going to be a highlight of the holiday season,” Ford said.

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