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Much has changed since 1951, when Gian Carlo Menotti composed Amahl and the Night Visitors as the first opera ever written for television. Amahl and the Night Visitors is the story of a miracle that occurs when the Magi stop on their journey to see the Baby Jesus, and it has been a perennial favorite since its first live telecast more than 65 years ago. Despite its lasting popularity, some of the elements of this stunning work have not aged well. Referring to Amahl, the disabled young boy at the center of the story, as ‘crippled’, the calling out of the race of one of the Kings, and the message that a happy ending is reliant upon the curing of Amahl’s disability... these aspects can distract from the lovely music and charming story of a truly profound miracle-- the miracle of forgiveness, charity, selflessness, and healing. The miracle of love.
We have made some changes to the traditional presentation of this opera in order to make it all the more poignant for a modern audience. Our production takes place in the 21st century, where the poverty experienced by Amahl and his mother is an all-too-real reality for millions of people all over the world. The arrival of the wise men occurs in a shared dream between Amahl and his mother rather than in real life. The bleak financial state and the resulting strained relationship between Amahl and his mother are represented by shades of black, white, and gray. The dream world, in contrast, is full of vivid color, and even the black and white images of Amahl’s friends and neighbors are touched by this vibrant dream.
It is in this colorful, dream-like world that a miracle takes place. In the dream, Amahl is physically healed when he and his mother see the forgiveness and charity the Divine Child inspires in the Kings and are moved to acts of selflessness and charity themselves. It was important to me as a director that once the dream was over, the healing of Amahl’s disability wasn’t the focus of the miracle. Instead, we focus on the love, charity, and forgiveness experienced and how that ‘colors’ the real world for Amahl and his mother once they wake up... they see the world and one another in a new and beautiful way. Their relationship is healed. Their world is changed. THIS is the miracle.
Amahl and the Night Visitors, with all its flaws, teaches us an incredibly important lesson: that any person, no matter what abilities they possess or challenges they face, can be changed through love, charity, and forgiveness. Anyone can experience a miracle.
We Know the Way - Opetaia Foa'i and Lin-Manuel Miranda; How Far I'll Go - Lin-Manuel Miranda; Through Heaven's Eyes - Stephen Schwartz; True Colors - Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly; The Midnight Princess Mega-Medley - Benjamin Rauhala; When You Believe - Stephen Schwartz; Amahl and the Night Visitors - Gian Carlo Menotti
USU Opera Theater
interactive cabaret, amahl, Utah Theatre, USU Opera Theatre
USU Opera; Hood, Errik; and Heaton, Dallas, "Interactive Cabaret and Amahl and the Night Visitors" (2017). All Music Department Programs. 151.