Interest in Amahl and the Night Visitors

Interest in Amahl and the Night Visitors

Producing this wonderful, expressive (not a dry eye in the house at the climactic moment), one-act (about 50 minutes), modern (written for TV in 1951), well-loved (the world’s most produced opera because in many communities it is a Christmas staple, like THE MESSIAH), christmas opera has been in my and Carl’s mind for some years (since 1976). Carl has also sung in it himself, twice, during the even earlier dark ages of his existence as an American. It has been on CBC Radio at least twice this season, and was for many years after it was written always on Christmas television.

Towards the end of last summer, we contemplated putting in an application to the confederation Centre to produce it as their official Christmas play NEXT year, in 2004, and went so far as to make preliminary enquiries about that possibility. We needed a year’s notice anyway, since we would use the time to recruit a boy singer / actor, and work out how to handle the fact that the score calls for two oboists (and there are none on PEI).

However, this opera, with its demand for trained voices in the principal roles and only one child (though it is child-centred, and children love it), is so far removed in type from the Centre’s traditional Christmas play, well executed this year by Monique, Ben, et al, and has the added difficulty of the school matinees vs available performers and orchestra, that we have concluded it is a non-starter in that slot. So the idea began again to languish when Carl surprised and pleased me by saying he could conceive of doing it, re-scored—with piano, flute, and one or two other instruments only—in Beaconsfield Carriage House. We have both fallen in love with that space thanks to Emily’s initiatives there. Again a preliminary enquiry—and the Beaconsfield executive director has told us she’d be happy to see the piece done there.

We’d like to do it as an ACT production of course, but are not yet seeking formal approval, since we would like to hear what others think, and also discuss some aspects of timing The play involves the three wise men on their journey, so could be done around Epiphany, Jan. 6. But let’s face it, most people have put everything to do Christmas behind them at that point.
So what about the empty time, the right-now time, of between Christmas and New Year’s Day? We have used this time-slot before, and Emily is using it now—what have we learned? Could someone be both in this (there is a chorus of shepherds and some of them, or others, dance) and in the traditional Christmas show? Yes, probably, though I don’t think we should defer to the Centre’s chronic inability to plan ahead for their Christmas show. Would it interfere with any show being planned by us for the winter of 2005? I hope not, but we need to discuss it.

Casting: three wise men (tenor, baritone, bass), one crippled, singing shepherd boy (Amahl), one mother of same (could be age 25+ - 50+), one bass-voiced servant, and chorus, not on for long.

Enuf already. Your thoughts?

tp

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