Amahl and the Night Visitors
In 1951, back when networks had directors of new opera programming rather than of Real Housewives programming, NBC commissioned Italian composer Gian Carlo Menotti to write an opera in one act as the debut production for the Hallmark Hall of Fame. Amahl and the Night Visitors, the work that resulted, was the first opera ever composed specifically for American television, and has become the most frequently performed opera of all time, with over 500 performances annually across the world. At just under one hour, and with its magical combination of singing, acting, live orchestra, and a touching and humorous story, Amahl is an uplifting holiday classic for the whole family.
On December 21st and 22nd, the Winnetka Community House will follow in that proud holiday tradition and present Amahl and the Night Visitors, directed by Toby Nicholson. The production is notable not just for the tremendous music and adventure-filled story, but also for its remarkable blending of professional and homegrown talentand in the case of Peter van de Graaff, who plays King Melchior, both.
In Amahl, Menotti managed to create a work that appeals both to adults, opera's traditional audience, and to children as well. It is written from a child's perspective, reflecting Menotti's attempt to recapture his own childhood.
Since then, generations have enjoyed this most magical opera. So, too, have generations played the part of Amahl, lending Toby Nicholson's current production part of its charm. Christopher Nicholson, Toby's son, performed the role of Amahl nearly twenty years ago and will appear in the current production as a King. Peter van de Graaff, host of the Beethoven Satellite Network overnight classical music service, which is carried on over 150 national radio stations, and who has performed with numerous opera companies, including the Lyric and Chicago Opera Theater, will reprise his role of King Melchior in Nicholson's Amahl. Mr. van de Graaff has observed that this performance feels familiar in the best sense of the word, with the costumes coming from a production he was in at Centre East in Skokie two years ago, and also from a performance that his wife, the soprano Kathleen van de Graaff, who plays Amahl's Mother, mounted at Lake Forest College. This theatrical "recycling" touches the entire production and creates a warmth and sense of interconnectedness.
Featuring local talent and professional singers alike, Toby Nicholson brings his directorial gifts and knack for story telling to this enduring classic. As Kathleen van de Graaff says when explaining the everlasting appeal of Amahl, "It's one hundred percent the feeling of Christmas; the miracle, the peace, the hope, the anticipation."
The Winnetka Community House and Toby Nicholson's Amahl and the Night Visitors runs from Saturday, December 21st at 3p.m. and 7p.m., through Sunday, December 22nd at 3p.m. For tickets or more information, call 847-446-0537.
Winnetka Community House - Matz Hall
620 Lincoln Avenue
Winnetka, IL 60093
|Kid Friendly: Yes!|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!|