A homebound Amahl, lost in his imagination, gazes into the deepening night sky, coloring the fantastic sights from his books and the Bible stories read to him by his mother. As a single mom, she does her best, but she can’t help feeling overwhelmed by caring for the boy while trying to make ends meet. They both hope and dream for a better life.
As Amahl drifts off to sleep on this particular night, his drawings come to life in spectacular fashion across the starry sky. He dreams of the Three Kings visiting his home with their gifts for the newborn Child. This visit fills both Amahl and his mother with hope for a brighter future. For if such amazing kings could visit their home, what other miracles might be possible?
A NOTE FROM THE DIRECTORS
’Tis the season of comfort and hope, and nothing communicates this sentiment more beautifully than Menotti’s charmingly simple story of Amahl and his mother. A perennial holiday favorite, we have both seen and worked on several productions of Amahl and the Night Visitors, and it is safe to say that each one has found a way into our hearts.
What we both love about the story is the pairing of Amahl's precociousness with the genuine desperation his mother feels. This is not an ancient tale of characters, mystic and foreign. These are real people. And if they are not immediately reflected in ourselves, we all know families going through struggles similar to those of Amahl and his mother. This is the power of parable. The universality of the story transcends time to be as applicable today as it was when it was originally told.
Menotti understood this so well and crafted a story we all feel we remember from the Bible, despite the fact that the piece was written in the mid-twentieth century. Utilizing the structure of parable, Menotti focuses this opera on Amahl and his perception of events. The composer’s note clearly dictates that “all … must be interpreted simply and directly in terms of a child’s imagination,” and it is this direction along with the contemporary plight of Amahl and his mother that created our touchpoints in developing this new production for Opera Orlando.
We hope that the message and power of this story finds its way into your heart this holiday season. No matter your beliefs, we all can appreciate and take something away from Amahl’s optimism, hope, and, most importantly, faith. Faith in his mother’s love. Faith that everything will be okay. Faith that miracles exist.
Cara Pfost and Grant Preisser