TARPON SPRINGS — Maybe you'd love to kick back for a few hours and enjoy one of the live holiday performances going on now at area performing arts theaters.
But this close to Christmas, maybe you're just too pressed for time for such a luxury.
Amahl and the Night Visitors at the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center may be the solution to your problem. The opera is just one act, performed in under an hour, yet it is one of the season's best-loved operas.
"This production is something we have done for years and it's wonderful to offer such a cultural experience to everyone," said Florida Lyric Opera's general director, Rosalia Maresca.
Amahl and the Night Visitors premiered on television and was the first opera written specifically for TV. The production ran each Christmas Eve on NBC until the original recording was lost. The music was said to be inspired by the painting The Adoration of the Magi, by Hieronymus Bosch.
"We love presenting Florida Lyric Opera's production of Amahl and the Night Visitors every Christmas season we can," Kathleen Monahan, Tarpon Springs' cultural and civic services director, wrote in an email. "Italian-American Gian Carlo Menotti's musical story — he wrote the story, in English, and the music — captures the hearts of all of us who believe in miracles. The charming story, with its tantalizing lyrical music, provides our talented local performers opportunities to share their joy of singing, dancing and acting."
While not the traditional story of the wise men, the story is oh so Christmas. It has themes of faith, charity, unselfish love and miracles. Three kings follow the bright star with a tail, and stop en route for shelter, where Amahl, a crippled shepherd boy, lives with his widowed mother. She steals the kings' gold. What happens next sets the stage for a miracle.
Elizabeth Boone portrays Amahl and Sarah Hageman, the mother. Rex Tabor, Kevin Nickorick and John Deeb play the three kings, and Frank Self portrays the slave.
The conductor for the opera is Constantine Grame; the pianist is Rena Massey; the choral director is Linda Switzer, and the dancers are from the Florida Dance Centre, with master choreographer Dusanka Ivanova.
Because the opera is so short, Saturday's opening performance will be preceded by the Largo High School Madrigalians, directed by William Renfroe, and Sunday's will showcase the Sunsational Quartette directed by Ron Emery.
Family-friendly Amahl and the Night Visitors is a story of warmth, compassion and miracles for anyone searching for the Christmas spirit.