What is perhaps America’s most-produced opera is sliding onstage for performances this weekend.
It’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” presented by the Fargo-Moorhead Opera at Concordia College’s Mainstage Theatre. This Christmassy opera returns three years after its last production with the F-M Opera, offering an outing of accessible music for the perfect time of year.
It may be surprising that “Amahl” has its roots as a Christmas Eve television special in 1951 and was the first musical theater production at North Dakota State, produced mere months after the television premiere. The story centers on a boy, his mother and the three wise men on their way to Bethlehem and features some of the most “tuneful music” you’ll hear, executive director David Hamilton said.
“It’s very heart-warming. I must say, I cry,” he said. “It’s a fun piece.”
A small cast presents this opera, with mostly local performers, though one guest artist (Jeffrey Madison, voice professor at the University of Wisconsin-Superior) is included, arriving after performing the same show with the Minnesota Orchestra.
The casting for the title role of Amahl can be a bit tricky, as finding an 11- to 13-year-old boy (or girl) who can meet the vocal demands is a bit of a hard search.
“We’ve been very fortunate, we always double cast it because we want to give more people the opportunity to sing the role,” Hamilton said, “and also … if Amahl gets sick, we’ve got a real problem.”
Hamilton further cites this show as a great family outing, especially for children, what with all of the colors, music and action onstage.
There’s also no need to fear not understanding the opera performers, as the text of the lyrics is projected above the stage. Now everyone will know what the chorus is saying, though it may not help with understanding certain words, like “medlar.”
“Now that we project it up, it’s like ‘Oh, that’s what they’re saying!'” Hamilton said.
“Amahl and the Night Visitors” comes between the F-M Opera’s season opener and closer, two productions that have never been done in Fargo-Moorhead prior to 2014-2015. With “The Merry Wives of Windsor” in the rearview mirror, the F-M Opera is coming up on “The Daughter of the Regiment” in April.
For now, let the Yuletide stylings of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” entertain you operatically this Christmas season, which has seen no shortage of events in Fargo-Moorhead.
WHEN: 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
WHERE: Concordia College’s Mainstage Theatre
PRICE: $20 for adults, $5 for children
MORE INFO: 701-239-4558