Celebration Singers mark holiday with classic Christmas opera
The Celebration Singers and the Celebration Singers Children's Choir will present the Annual Holiday Concert Dec 10 at 8 p.m., and Dec 11 at 3p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Cranford United Methodist Church, corner of Lincoln and Walnut streets in Cranford. |
This year's theme is Holiday Favorites, featuring Amahl and the Night Visitors, a one-act opera written in English by Gian Carlo Menotti. The second act of the concert will include a variety of traditional Christmas and Hanukkah music including Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, A Jingle Bell Travelogue, Twas the Night Before Christmas and Let There Be Peace on Earth.
Amahl and the Night Visitors was commissioned for television in 1951, and for many years it was shown annually at Christmas time on NBC television. Amahl is performed live in most major cities around Christmas and is a wonderful introduction to opera for many people, both young and old.
The story of the show centers around Amahl, a poor crippled shepherd boy living with his widowed mother. The night visitors are the Three Kings following the star to Bethlehem, where they heard of the birth of a King. It is a profoundly moving and yet sometimes humorous story that tells about hardship, unselfish love, the triumph of goodness and will leave an audience with both tears of sorrow and laughter.
The leading role of Amahl has been double-cast with Harrod Schlenker, a 6th-grader at Orange Avenue School in Cranford, and Paul Sadowski, a 5th-grader at Oakridge Heights School in Colonia. The role of the mother will be played by Deborah Eberts, a Westfield resident and member of the faculty of the New Jersey Workshop for the Arts. Eberts is well known in the New York metropolitan area as a vocal teacher and opera/oratorio soloist.
The Three Kings will be played by Manny Gonzalez of Scotch Plains, Nuno DeSousa of Linden and Khy Garner of Roselle. The Page will be played by Eddie Egan of Cranford. The Celebration Singers adult chorus will play the roles of the Shepherds' Chorus. The opera is directed by Tom Pedas, a music teacher with the Cranford public schools and the director of the Celebration Singers. Pedas is the founder of the Linden Summer Playhouse and has directed shows for the Scotch Plains Players, Mystic Vision Players and the Cranford Repertory Theater.
Tickets for the concert are $10 for adults and $5 for children and senior citizens. Tickets can be purchased in advance from any cast or chorus member or at the door the night of the concert. In its continuing goal of exposing young people to good music, the Celebration Singers will offer children 13 years old and younger free admission to the Saturday matinee if accompanied by a paid adult. For more information call (908) 241-8200.
The Celebration Singers is a non-profit community choral organization that recently celebrated its 60th anniversary. The 40 members come from several counties in central New Jersey. The Children's choir is a tuition-free choir, giving young people a chance to sing a variety of repertoires and to perform with an adult choir.
Who's Who in Cranford Celebrationn Singers Amahl Production:
Tom Pedas, The Celebration Singers and Children's Chorus