Attendees of UD’s recent production of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” were given a real treat this past weekend. As we all know, these weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are usually both awkward and difficult to finish out. Speaking for myself, I arrived at Lynch on opening night preoccupied with everything yet to be finished this semester. But I left enchanted, in every sense of the word.
At face value, the opera is about a poor, crippled shepherd boy and his mother who are visited one night by the three magi on their way to visit the Christ child. The magic of it all comes into play in the overriding story: that is, the realization and acceptance of the seemingly impossible, whether in the form of “fairy tales” or Christ Himself, as working in our lives in a very real way.
With a cast of alumi and current members of Collegium Cantorum, there was a broad spectrum of talent represented. Every bit of it was heard in the sweet, twining harmonies of Amahl and his mother (played by sophomore Caeli Austin and alumna Rachel Davies), the rich, reverberant tones of the magi (played by alumni Martin Guerra, Reuben Rocha, and Peter Saliga), and the full, mobile beauty of the shepherds’ chorus (played by members of Collegium Cantorum). Alumna Jamie Nelson’s direction involved the movement of the magi, Amahl and the chorus throughout the auditorium, evoking the sense that the audience was in some way a part of the story. The direction and natural chemistry between the cast also allowed for a good balance of humor (Kaspar’s enthusiastic ridiculousness, Amahl’s cheekiness) with gravity (the mother’s desperation for her child’s future) and finally hope (the kings’ vision of Christ as both poor servant and glorified king, and Amahl’s persistence in telling stories and believing in miracles).
This is not the story of mother and son one would first expect to hear around Christmas; and yet, what an excellent Christmas story.