Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

WT Opera to Stage Holiday Classic ‘Amahl and the Night Visitors’

Cast members of WT Opera’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors” include, from left, Julian Ayala as King Kaspar, Oscar Hample as King Balthazar, Kelton Harbison as King Melchior, and Sarah Estes as Amahl. The holiday opera will be performed Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

CANYON, Texas — West Texas A&M University Opera will stage a beloved holiday production in its first performance of the fall.

Students will present “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” an American opera about a detour taken by the three kings on their way to witness the birth of Jesus, at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 in the Sybil B. Harrington Fine Arts Complex Recital Hall on WT’s Canyon campus.

Tickets are $10 for the general public and free for WT students, faculty and staff with a Buff Gold Card.

“This opera is a great fairytale of the Christmas season with its anticipation of the birth of Christ,” said stage director Dr. Robert Hansen, Regents Professor of Music. “My goal is to make it playful as a way of highlighting the miracle that occurs in the show.”

The one-act opera, composed by Gian Carlo Menotti, originally was produced on NBC in 1951, the first opera specifically written for television in the United States. It became a holiday tradition on the network and continues to live on in stage productions.

“There’s so much personality in it,” said Sauncy Reddick, a senior music education major from Beaver, Oklahoma, who will play Amahl in the Dec. 1 performance. “It feels very accessible to modern audiences.”

Hansen himself saw one of those early TV broadcasts, which helped set him on his future career path.

“I saw it as a child, and I wanted to be Amahl so bad,” Hansen said. “It really was revolutionary to do opera for TV.”

In the opera, kings Kaspar, Melchior and Balthazar stop for a rest on their journey to Bethlehem. They’re taken in by Amahl and his mother, whose hospitality greatly touches the magi.

“They can see the struggles of the mother, and they’re very grateful that she still offered what she could to us,” said Eduardo Guaderrama, a master’s student in choral conducting from Friona, who plays King Melchior in the Dec. 1 concert.

Hansen promises a “charming” production.

“The music is beautiful, and the story is so touching,” he said.

Nov. 30 cast members include Sarah Estes, a sophomore vocal performance major from Turpin, Oklahoma, as Amahl; Abigail Hite, a senior music education major from Nashville, as Mother; Julian Ayala, a senior music technology major from Fort Worth, as King Kaspar; Kelton Harbison, a sophomore music education major from Canyon, as King Melchior; Oscar Hample, a senior music theatre major from Wasilla, Alaska, as King Balthazar; and Connor Cooksey, a junior music education major from San Antonio, as the page.

Dec. 1 cast members include Reddick; Taylor Lindley, a graduate student in music from Pampa, as Mother; Justin Williamson, a graduate student in music from Amarillo, as King Kaspar; Guaderrama; Hample; and Cooksey.

Chorus members for both nights include Sarah Boydston, a sophomore music education major from Amarillo; McKenna Cooper, a senior music therapy major from Midlothian; Grace Gaertner, a senior music education major from Whitehouse; Lia Gonzales, a freshman music therapy major from Brenham; Alexander Hernandez, a junior theatre major from Amarillo; Peyton Jewett, a sophomore music theatre major from Monahans; Zoe Kizziar, a sophomore music education major from Canyon; and Logan Lahon, a freshman music theatre major from Midland.

Stage manager and choreographer is Brooklynn King, a sophomore vocal performance major from Pearland.

“Amahl” is just one of several Christmas-themed activities on campus and in Canyon in coming days.

President Walter V. and Mary Wendler will host their annual Christmas reception for the community at 4 p.m. Nov. 29, followed by the annual Festival of Lights at 6 p.m.

Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum’s Christmas Open House will run 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 2, and Canyon Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas in Canyon events will kick off at 4 p.m. Dec. 2, including the Parade of Lights at 6:30 p.m. around the downtown square, followed by the lighting of the Canyon Christmas tree and fireworks.

Plus, the WT Chamber Singers’ Christmas concert is set for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2 in Northen Recital Hall; admission is free. And the WT Symphony Orchestra’s annual holiday concert, “I Heard the Bells! Music of the Christmas Season,” will be held at 4 and 7 p.m. Dec. 3 in Mary Moody Northen Recital Hall. Admission is free, but tickets are required.

Fostering an appreciation of the arts is a key component of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic One West comprehensive fundraising campaign, which reached its initial $125 million goal 18 months after publicly launching in September 2021. The campaign’s new goal is to reach $175 million by 2025; currently, it has raised more than $150 million.

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