I saw the last of a series of performances of the production of Amahl & the Night Visitors by this group, a producing company out of Central Vermont. The performance was at the Charlotte Congregational Church, members of whose Sunday School helped in the production by dancing the Shepherd's Dance. The first question about any production of this work, originally written for television in 1951, is: did they have a boy soprano capable of doing the work? The answer is an emphatic yes: Ethan Herz not only sang the part with a particularly strong lower and middle register, but he acted the part with great conviction. From the sound of his voice, I would guess that his voice has begun to change, because the upper registers, although currently intact, are beginning to thin out. That good strong middle and lower voice bodes well for vocal continuity. As the mother, Margot Button acted and sang the role with conviction and command. The Three Kings, sung by Bill Carmichael Walsh, Joe Garofalo and Simon Chauss_were very well performed. Their ensemble singing was excellent, and the acting was fine. Scott Gordon sang the role of The Page. The chorus, although short of men, was effective within the church, but might have been weak in the men's department on stage. The conductor was Catherine Orr, whose incisive beat and clearly-signaled directions kept the ensembles closely together. Eliza Thomas on piano and Joni McCraw on flute and clarinet provided a comprehensive sound. The costumes, borrowed from (I presume) Vermont Opera Theatre, were particularly to the point, especially those of the Three Kings. Within the confines of the Congregational Church in Charlotte, all of the forces made a terrific impact, and it was a pleasure to see the performance. If you missed it this year, I have a feeling you won't be able to see Ethan Herz if they mount the production next year -- but do go to see it. It is a pleasant way to spend approximately 55 minutes of your seasonal time, and you will come away wreathed in smiles from the happy outcome of the opera. And, finally, my wishes to all of you for a peaceful and prosperous new year in 2008, although yesterday's assassination of Benazir Ali Bhutto doesn't particularly bode well for the peaceful. If you have any arts events that you would like to have mentioned, send me the information at least three weeks before the event scheduled to email@example.com and I will put it in the Briefly Noted section of my column and then send it on to the newspaper. Briefly noted
Pianist Paul Orgel has two new performances on youtube, those of the music of Bartok and Janecek. Their links are: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHtWlw9mYSw&feature=related and www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Zbzn9pFMnA . Enjoy!