This holiday season, Opera Idaho brings back its production of Gian Carlo Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors.”
With its sweet story about a poor boy and his mother who find their lives transformed by a visit from the Magi, it has become one of the most loved and performed operatic works in the world.
Opera Idaho executive director Mark Junker started making “Amahl” a holiday tradition in Boise in 2009.
Menotti’s story blends ideas of love, faith, suffering and redemption in a very simple way through a simple story of a mother and son.
Amahl (sung by Warren Bodily and William Thompson) is a little boy with a big imagination and a tendency to exaggerate. He is crippled, and he and his mother are very poor. He tries to tell his mother (sung by soprano Laura Rushing-Raynes) stories to make her happy because their lives are so hard. But she usually thinks he’s lying and gets angry.
So, when Amahl tells her of an amazing star he saw and of three kings who are waiting outside their door, she doesn’t believe him.
When she discovers that the kings are real, she invites them into the family’s humble home and offers what she has to them. They tell her and Amahl that they are on a journey to seek a baby who is king of the Jews. They show their gifts of frankincense, myrrh and gold they plan to offer. The latter causes a moral dilemma for Amahl’s mother, who desperately wants to help her crippled son.
The Magi help ease her anguish and witness a Christmas miracle.
The opera has an unusual history. NBC commissioned Menotti to compose the first opera written for television for its new program “Hallmark Hall of Fame” that was set to debut on Christmas Eve 1951.
Menotti struggled with choosing a subject until he found inspiration in Hieronymus Bosch’s painting “Adoration of the Magi.” After seeing it at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, Menotti composed his opera in just a few weeks.
NBC aired “Amahl and the Night Visitors” live on that Christmas Eve and every year until 1963. That’s when the network filmed “Amahl” and showed the tape until 1966.
After that, the holiday special fell off the network’s radar, but opera companies picked it up and performed it live.
You can see it at 2:30 p.m. Sunday to Tuesday, Dec. 27-29, at the Egyptian Theatre, 700 W. Main St., Boise. It’s sung in English with English supertitles. Tickets are $14.40 to $48 at 387-1273 and OperaIdaho.org.
‘So You Think You Can Dance’
Another hugely popular dance show will hit Boise next week with the national tour of the “So You Think You Can Dance” season 12 contestants. The 14-time Emmy-winning Fox show will highlight its “Stage v. Street” format that pits classically trained dancers against hip-hop dancers.
Team Stage will include season 12 winner Gaby Diaz, along with Edson Juarez, Jim Nowakowski, Hailee Payne and Derek Piquette. On Team Street you’ll see Megan “Megz” Alfonso, Eddie “Neptune” Eskridge, Virgil Gadson, Jessica “JJ” Rabone and Jana “Jaja” Vankova.
They will perform the season’s most popular routines throughout the night.
The television dance show phenomenon started with the British version of “So You Think You Can Dance” in 2002. Its creator, dancer and choreographer Nigel Lythgoe, brought it to America in 2005, the same year the other dance-show juggernaut “Dancing with the Stars” premiered on ABC. Through highlighting some of the best American dancers of all genres, Lythgoe and the show are credited with spurring the resurgence of dance in popular culture and on Broadway.
Tickets are limited but there are a few left. The show is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 29, at Taco Bell Arena, 1401 Bronco Lane, Boise. Tickets are $27.50 to $63 at Ticketmaster.