Amahl and the night visitors – Menotti

Adoration_of_the_Magi_Hieronymus_Bosch_autograph_ca._1470–75_(NY)Sempre Opera’s first full-scale opera Since 2011, Sempre Opera has presented opera concerts, fulfilling its mission to create a platform to, once again, revive opera in South Africa. Sempre Opera’s vision is to present a full-length opera and this year, it is realised with the staging of Amahl and the Night Visitors.

On 17 October this year, opera lovers may enjoy the full production of Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors. In 1951 Menotti wrote this opera commissioned by Peter Herman Adler, chief executive of the National Broadcasting Company of the USA, to be screened on television. Both the libretto and composition were written by Menotti. This one act opera tells the story of Amahl, a disabled little boy, who is miraculously healed.

The three magi, on their journey to the Holy Child, stay over at the impoverished household of Amahl and his mother. These three kings bear many precious gifts and Amahl’s mother is caught stealing gold in order to help her disabled son. The three kings forgive her for her misdeed and insists that she keeps the gold. Nevertheless, she tries to return it and Amahl offers his shepherd’s rod, doubling as a crutch when he realises that he can walk without it. Amahl then joins the magi on their journey to pay homage to the Holy Child.

Amahl and the Night Visitors was inspired by Hieronymous Bosch’s painting ‘Adoration of the Magi’ where the three wise men pay homage to the Christ Child. Menotti comments the following in the programme of the first performance: “This is an opera for children because it tries to recapture my own childhood. You see, when I was a child I lived in Italy, and in Italy we have no Santa Claus. I suppose that Santa Claus is much too busy with American children to be able to handle Italian children as well. Our gifts were brought to us by the Three Kings, instead.”

This production is directed by the well-known baritone, Danie Verster, and the role of Amahl is sung by one of his student, Marli Albertse, from the music centre at Hoërskool Wonderboom. Linette van der Merwe (mezzo soprano) sings the role of Amahl’s mother and Chris Mostert (tenor), Coert Grobbelaar (tenor) and Rex Nigrini (bass-baritone) may be seen in the roles of the three magi; Kings Kaspar, Melchior en Balthasar. Lené Venter (soprano) sings the role of the servant. The choir of villagers and shepherds consists of students from Hoërskool Wonderboom. The singers are accompanied on piano by Rudolf Geldenhuis and flute by Laurian Verster.

The performance on 17 October will be in Pretoria at 19:00 at the Eduplex Auditorium (Cowgill Street, Queenswood). Tickets for Amahl and the Night Visitors are available at R100 and R80 (for pensioners and school students). Tickets are available on-line at www.concertmaster.co.za and also at the doors. Those interested may further make inquiries by phoning Linette van der Merwe at 082 923 1540 or by sending an email to info@sempreopera.co.za.

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