The Night Visitors: waking in a winter wonderland

The Newport Symphony Orchestra and Porthole Players will join forces this weekend to celebrate the music and magic of the holiday season with a collaborative production titled “Winter Wonder.”

The evening will feature a performance of the holiday musical classic “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” a heartwarming tale about a poor widow and her son who are visited by the three Wise Men on their journey to Bethlehem. The first opera ever written for national television, “Amahl and the Night Visitors” had its premiere live on Christmas Eve in 1951. It was also the very first program in the long-running television series “The Hallmark Hall of Fame,” produced by Hallmark Cards. The opera became an annual broadcast tradition through the 1950s and into the ’60s.

Directed by coastal favorite Bonnie Ross, “Amahl and the Night Visitors” has a principal cast of well-known and highly talented Newport singing actors: Braylon Belloni as Amahl, Gidget ManucciAshley as the Mother, Brian Haggerty as King Caspar, Pete Theodore as King Melchior, Gary Herd as King Balthazar and Jeff Lichtman as the Page.

Conductor Brad Capshaw will marshal the talents of celebrated local pianists Carlyn Jefferson and Paul Beard, joined by Newport Symphony Orchestra musicians Pablo Izquierdo and Kris Klavik. The opera also features an ensemble of singers from across Lincoln County and dancers from the studio of Pacific Dance Ensemble, with choreography by Nancy Mittleman.

The opera will be preceded by a Newport actor Rhodd Caldwell’s reading of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas. Written in the 1950s, this anecdotal reminiscence of Christmas from the viewpoint of a young boy harkens back to a simpler time.

“Winter Wonder” will be performed at 7:30 pm on Saturday, Dec. 8; and again at 2 pm on Sunday, Dec. 9, at the Newport Performing Arts Center, 777 W Olive Street.

Tickets, $25 and $39 plus fees, or $10 for children and students, are available at www.coastarts.org or by calling 541-265-2787.

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