The second annual performance of Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors takes place at the Gallagher Student Theatre on Dec. 20-Dec. 23. The University’s Department of Music and Theatre is partnering with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra to present this unique production featuring larger-‐than-‐life puppets created and staged by Cincinnati’s own renowned Madcap Puppets.
The chamber opera, just 50 minutes in length, tells the tale of Amahl, a shepherd boy, his mother and their miraculous, life-‐changing encounter with three wise men searching for the Christ child.
Inaugurated in December 2012, this production of Amahl was a critical success and box
office hit, with rave reviews from media and audience alike and ticket sales reaching
97 percent capacity in its first year. Amahl was the first opera written for television, and it premiered live on NBC-‐TV on Christmas Eve 1951.
This production of Amahl is unique in its inclusion of giant, oversized puppets created by Madcap Puppets, who portray the three kings and their page. The Chamber Orchestra is placed onstage to the right side of the action. The singers performing the roles of the kings are placed nearby within the seating of the instrumentalists.
Both critics and audience members have described Madcap’s puppets as “magical” partly due to their physical beauty, but also because of the ability of the puppeteers to bring these characters to life, visually, with subtle gestures and body language.
CCO music director Mischa Santora conducts the performances while Irina Niculescu of Madcap returns as stage director. Niculescu conceived the unique adaptation of Menotti’s story, incorporating puppets and placing the story in current day Cincinnati, with a dramatic backdrop of the skyline.
“Inspired by Menotti's libretto, I imagined it seen through the eyes of a modern child, who has a meaningful dream,” said Niculescu. “This gave me the opportunity to stage Amahl using puppets. Puppetry creates the mysterious, magic world in which the story comes to life.”
Tom Merrill, chair of Xavier’s Department of Music and Theatre, leads the Xavier Edgecliff Vocal Ensemble.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 20, and Monday, Dec. 23, and at 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21, and Sunday, Dec. 22. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for students. Valet parking is available. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call 513-723-1182 or visit the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra online at ccocincinnati.org.