Review: Amahl and the Night Visitors 

***1/2
click to enlarge King Melchior (Mark Gilgallon), King Kaspar (David Manell) and King Balthazar (Darren K. Stokes) in Amahl and the Night Visitors. - DENIS RYAN KELLY, JR.
  • King Melchior (Mark Gilgallon), King Kaspar (David Manell) and King Balthazar (Darren K. Stokes) in Amahl and the Night Visitors.
  • Denis Ryan Kelly, Jr.

As a subdued, gentle retelling of the Adoration of the Magi in a modern setting, this intimate "Amahl and The Night Visitors" occasionally takes on a dream-like power to transform us physically and emotionally. Production designer and director Joachim Schamberger created amazing visual effects for Gian Carlo Menotti's 1951 one-act opera, utilizing the small stage space to maximum effect.

James Caraher directs the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Indianapolis Opera Chorus and the lead singers, employing a modulated pace, almost like a lullabye. It's because of this pace that, while the relationship between Amahl and his mother is tender and loving during the opening scenes, later scenes are deprived of their dramatic potential because sung at the same quiet dynamic and in the same deliberate cadence.

For instance, "All That Gold," sung by Mary to the Wise Men, fails to stir the audience to ponder what it means to her to see all this wealth and have none for the welfare of her own child. It is as if she is distantly commenting on her plight, rather than feeling depths of despair at her own poverty and inability to provide for her child.

Still, the Three Kings interact with dignity and humanity, and the villagers with humorous pomp. Through Dec. 16 at Basile Opera Center

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