Classic opera starts holiday ambiance

Helen Carroll: ENMU Communication Services

Amahl and the Night Visitors returns to Eastern New Mexico University after 17 years.

Directed by Dr. Roberto Mancusi, assistant professor of voice, this Christmas opera is a favorite of the faculty and members of the surrounding community.

It will be presented on Friday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3, at 2 p.m. (special show for families with small children), Saturday, Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. (special show with faculty and community members in the lead roles), and Sunday, Dec. 4, at 2 p.m.

Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, $5 students under 18, and $4 ENMU students.

“While we were still discussing whether or not to do the production, people in the community got wind of it and were very excited it was coming back,” said Mancusi. “This makes it a homecoming of sorts.”

It is easy to see why the opera is a favorite.
It is the story of a poor widow and her crippled son, Amahl, who are visited one night by the Three Kings who are on their way to see the baby Jesus.

The kings stop by Amahl’s house and ask for shelter for the night. The events of that evening are the story of the opera.

The cast of this production is rather unique because it is made up of students and faculty. Mancusi says this is a great way for students to benefit from working with faculty members who have been part of the production in the past.

Mancusi says that part of the production’s charm is that the setting is very intimate.

Taking place in Buchanan Hall with only one set, the opera is about 50 minutes long.

According to Mancusi, Gian Carlo Menotti originally wrote the piece for television.

The story was inspired by a painting by Hieronymus Bosch, in which the Three Kings are depicted offering their gifts to the Christ child and the Mother Mary.

When the story was aired on NBC in 1951, only the most privileged families had televisions in their homes.

It has been speculated that Menotti tells the story about Amahl’s poverty-stricken family through musical numbers like “All That Gold” in an effort to subtly remind the upper class of the time that there were less fortunate people all around them.

Mancusi is looking forward to the production. “Comedy, tragedy, and a Christmas miracle make this a wonderful way to start the holiday season.”

For ticket information, call 505-562-2371 or 505-562-2561, or e-mail Roberto.mancusi@enmu.edu.