‘Amahl and the Night Visitors’ presentation set for Dec. 11

The Minot Symphony Orchestra and Western Plains Opera will present Gian Carlo Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” on Saturday, Dec. 11, at 7:30 p.m. at Ann Nicole Nelson Hall on the Minot State University campus.

Menotti was inspired by Netherland artist, Hieronymus Bosch’s 1475 oil painting, “The Adoration of the Magi,” when it brought back Menotti’s own Italian childhood memories where gifts are brought to eager children not by Santa Claus, but by the three kings. Menotti wrote the opera to unfold through the eyes of a child. In this short one-act story, the poor crippled child, Amahl, and his mother open their home to three traveling wisemen on their journey to present the Christ child with their gifts and Amahl receives a very special gift of his own.

The Minot Symphony Orchestra is a blend of student, community, and professional musicians from the Minot area. The music director is Maestro Efraín Amaya, associate professor of music at Minot State University, who will be joined by colleague Cheryl Nilsen, professor of mathematics education, as stage director. The production will include students, faculty, and alumni of Minot State University as well as members of the Minot High School Choir, directed by Lindsay Kerzmann, and students of the Rinat Mouzafarov Dance and Ballet Theater.

The role of Amahl will be played by Minot native Megan Klebe. Klebe is a senior at Minot State University studying music education with a dual focus in voice and trumpet. Her debut with Western Plains Opera was as the Dew Fairy in Hansel in Gretel in 2019.

“I am truly honored and humbled to have the chance bring the young Amahl to life for the Minot public. I hope to get across to you Amahl’s endless curiosity and wonderment along with his fierce loyalty and love for his mother with my performance. I hope you fall in love with this opera as much as I have!” said Klebe.

In her Minot debut, Amahl’s mother will be sung by soprano Raquel Winnica Young of Pittsburgh. Hailed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as a “beautifully voiced singer-actor,” and by the American Record Guide as a mezzo-soprano of “gorgeous expressive singing,” Raquel Winnica Young was a finalist of the Vocal Art Song Discovery Series DC, two-time winner of the Pittsburgh Concert Society Major Artist Competition and a finalist for The American Prize in Art Song and Oratorio. Winnica Young is an adjunct faculty member at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches applied voice and vocal repertoire and literature.

Baritone Philip Zawisza returns to the Magic City in the role of King Melchior. Zawisza joined the MSO for Amaya’s operatic excerpts of “Lilian and Leo” and “Ghismunda and Guiscardo” as well as Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana.” Minot audiences will also remember Philip’s performance in the title role of Figaro in Rossini’s “Barber of Seville” with the Western Plains Opera in 2018.

King Kaspar will be played by Ken Bowles, tenor, professor emeritus, who was director of choral activities and voice teacher at MSU from 1993 – 2016, chair of the Division of Music for the last eight years of his academic career and general director of Western Plains Opera from 1995-2015. A frequent contributor as performer and conductor in Western Plains Opera productions over the years, Bowles returns to the role of Kaspar which he first performed with the MSO and WPO over 25 years ago.

Eric Furuseth, coordinator, Humanities Program, associate professor of English at MSU, has been performing with Western Plains Opera since 1985 with several leading roles and innumerable supporting roles will play the role of King Balthazar. Furuseth is very active with the Minot Chamber Chorale, performing as “Lord of the Manor” for the Renaissance Feast for well over 20 years. Furuseth has also performed in many musical presentations with MSU Summer Theatre, The Mouse River Players, The Heritage Singers, as well as several solo performances.

The role as page to the kings will be sung by MSU alum, Erik M. Anderson, baritone. Anderson has been in six Western Plains Opera productions, including roles as Marullo in Rigoletto and Morpheus in Orpheus in the Underworld. He has also been a featured soloist with Minot Chamber Chorale and MSU Concert Choir.

Tickets start at $25 for adults with senior and student discounts available. Tickets are available at www.minotsymphony.com or through the box office at 701-858-4228. Patrons are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance.

The Minot Symphony Orchestra will follow current COVID-19 guidelines as mandated by Minot State University. Social distancing and masks are not required at this time. This is subject to change as the COVID-19 pandemic changes. For patrons not comfortable attending a live performance, or are not able to travel, performances will also be available via livestream. Advanced tickets are available on the symphony’s website.

This project is supported in part by a grant from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, which receives funding from the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.


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