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Seeing stars 

click to enlarge Laugh, love and learn lessons with Amahl (last years - cast pictured).
  • Laugh, love and learn lessons with Amahl (last years cast pictured).

A prerequisite of an annual holiday pageant is to spread a message of goodwill and understanding.

The Colorado Springs Conservatory isn't about to disappoint. Once again, the conservatory is joining forces with the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs to present the one-act opera Amahl and the Night Visitors.

Sung in English and written by American composer Gian Carlo Menotti, it follows the story of Amahl, a poor, crippled young boy who one night sees a star with a long tail. Soon, three kings show up on his family's doorstep in search of a child. They're invited in to rest, and reveal to Amahl and his mother the gifts they have brought for the child.

Later, Amahl's mother tries to steal some of the kings' gold. This being a holiday pageant, rather than one of high drama, all eventually is smoothed over in a miraculous moment of redemption.

Amahl is much more than a run-of-the-mill holiday piece, however.

"For me, selfishly, it's about the idiom 'opera,'" says conservatory director Linda Weise. Noting that the Pikes Peak Center will host a schools-only performance immediately before opening to the general public, she says, "There's going to be 3,000 kids enjoying opera in that one morning. How cool is that?"

The Conservatory students enjoy putting on Amahl every year, as well. That it is performed annually means the continuing students grow up with the music, the younger ones stepping into the lead roles when they're older. Conservatory alumni return to sing cast parts, too.

Though its themes are spiritual, Weise sees the opera as one that reaches out to everyone.

"It's just a great story," she says. "But frankly, more than religious content, Amahl represents every child."

-- Kara Luger

capsule

Amahl and the Night Visitors

Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave.

Tuesday, Dec. 20, 11:45 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Free

Sangre de Cristo Arts Center, 210 N. Santa Fe Ave., Pueblo

Wednesday, Dec. 21, 7 p.m.

Donation: $1, to SDC Arts program for children with disabilities.

Ute Pass Cultural Center, 210 E. Midland Ave., Woodland Park

Thursday, Dec. 22, 7 p.m.

Free

Call 577-4556 for more.

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