Monday, October 31, 2011

Opera Posse to present 'Amahl' in Pasadena Dec. 9-11


OPERA POSSE presents Gian Carlo Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors
first commissioned by NBC for Christmas Eve, beginning in 1951
at the Pasadena Playhouse

Legendary actor Malcolm McDowell will open the one act opera with a reading of Dylan Thomas' iconic A Child's Christmas in Wales

Friday, December 9 at 8 p.m. at the Pasadena Playhouse

Saturday, December 10 at 2 p.m. at the Pasadena Playhouse

Saturday, December 10 at 8 p.m. at the Pasadena Playhouse

Sunday, December 11 at 2 p.m. at the Pasadena Playhouse

Sunday, December 11 at 7 p.m. at the Pasadena Playhouse

For many children, Christmas Eve celebrations involve putting presents under the tree and hanging stockings on the mantel for Santa to fill. But when mezzo-soprano Stephanie Vlahos was a child, Christmas Eves meant it was time to watch NBC's broadcast of Gian Carlo Menotti's holiday opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors. So perhaps it is no surprise that Vlahos, Artistic Director of the newly formed opera company, OPERA POSSE, chose to revive this holiday tradition and present Menotti's one act opera at the Pasadena Playhouse on Friday, December 9 through Sunday, December 11.

"Watching NBC's production of Amahl and the Night Visitors was a tradition not just for my family but for countless families nationwide throughout the 1950s and 1960s," says Vlahos. "It's a lovely opera that encapsulates the true meaning of the season.

"I've seen and directed Amahl countless times," Vlahos continues. "But its story of how a poor crippled shepherd boy, Amahl, and his mother, are visited one starry night by three kings on their way to visit a very special child never fails to move me to tears. It's so exciting to have this opportunity to revive the tradition begun by NBC over 50 years ago and share the joy of Menotti's opera with a whole new generation of children and their families."

Members of the cast, the chorus and the orchestra have demonstrated that they share Vlahos' passion for the project in a unique way. All from mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzman, who plays The Mother, to conductor Jorge Mester have agreed to donate their time.

For Guzman, who was honored by People Magazine as an outstanding Latino in Music and was the first recipient of the Pla¡cido Domingo Award for Arts and Service, the camaraderie the cast and orchestra will experience in giving back to their craft in this unique way, will enhance the miraculous aspects of Amahl's story.

"Performing together like this, as we work with Stephanie to launch something unique, new and wonderful, an intensely magical alchemy can't help but happen," says Guzman. "The passion and creativity behind our commitment to OPERA POSSE รข€“ coupled with the legacy of craft and technique that we share will inspire us to reach new heights and create a world class production. Everyone benefits, both artists and the audience. Who could want more?"

Guzman is equally enthusiastic about OP's vision of having established artists like herself take time to mentor younger, emerging singers. "It's the perfect combination," she explains. "We infuse each other.

"Did you ever double-dutch jump rope with your mother?" Guzman continues. "You have these two ropes whipping in front of your face and it seems there is no way you are going to get in? And then mom slides in like nothing. And she's jumping and telling you, 'Wait. Wait. Wait. Now go, sweetheart!' And you' just do it. And you're suddenly in. And for a second you and your mother are one person, grinning at each other like a mirror! Then your mother glides out and you are alone, flying. And you can't wait to try again. That's why I love OP and want so much to be part of Stephanie's incredible vision for not only Pasadena but for the entire world of opera."

Joining Guzman on stage are tenor Greg Fedderly, who will play King Kaspar, baritone Leroy Villanueva, who will play King Melchior and boy soprano Caleb Glickman who will play Amahl. In addition, under the direction of Jeffrey Bernstein, members of the Pasadena Master Chorale will join the chorus, portraying villagers and shepherds. Jorge Mester Music Director of the Naples Philharmonic, Conductor Laureate of the Aspen Music Festival and former Music Director of The Pasadena Symphony will conduct several of the performances.

Because Amahl and the Night Visitors is roughly 45 minutes in length, Vlahos has programmed a reading of Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales to open the production. British actor Malcolm McDowell who is perhaps best known for his roles in A Clockwork Orange and as "the man who killed Captain Kirk" in the film Star Trek Generations will narrate the poem.

"A miraculous healing takes place at the end of Amahl and the Night Visitors," says Vlahos. "And that so many renowned and extraordinarily talented people have jumped on board to help make this production happen is yet another special kind of miracle. Now we're hard at work, creating the most luminous, inspiring and musically superb production possible so that Amahl's miracle continues to spread, taking up residence in the heart of each member of our audience."

Tickets for OPERA POSSE'S production of Amahl and the Night Visitors range from $49 to $100 and are available online at either or Tickets may also be purchased at the Pasadena Playhouse Box Office or by calling (626) 356-7529. The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, 91101.

To learn more about OPERA POSSE, its mission and upcoming events and productions, visit

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