The Christmas opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors” is coming to the South Branch Library Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 7 at 3:30 p.m. The short opera, written for NBC in the early 1950s, tells the story of a young boy who meets the three kings on their way to see baby Jesus.
“It’s about the most heartwarming, less-than-an-hour performance that ever will be,” said Lewis Phelps, a retired music professor who will direct the production. “It’s one of those wonderful human stories. There will be laughter and tears in the audience.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and librettist Gian Carlo Menotti wrote “Amahl and the Night Visitors” to be performed on television, and for decades it aired regularly during the holiday season.
Phelps, who still teaches music classes in the area, has wanted to put on a local production of “Amahl” for the last few years. Though he had booked the space, he said this year is the first time he was able to find the right cast to pull it off.
“It’s because of contacts,” he said.
His classes were the source of a major contact, professional singer Susan Facer. Facer, who plays Amahl’s mother, sat in on one of Phelps’ classes and volunteered when he needed someone to help him with a demonstration on musical hand signals. She then led him to Dreyden Brown, who will perform the role of Amahl.
Stephen, Neil and David Wilkinson, the children of well-known composer Lorraine S. Wilkinson, will play the wise men. Phelps only knew two of the brothers, but they recommended the third when another actor fell through.
“It all just came together,” he said.
Admission to both performances is free and open to everyone five years and older. Seating is extremely limited.
“This opera will please everyone, even the people who hate opera,” said Phelps. “It has the extraordinary ability to pull at people’s heartstrings.”