Following up on its recent salute to the works of Gian Carlo Menotti, Chamber Opera Chicago turns its attention to his most beloved work, his television opera “Amahl & the Night Visitors,” a Baby Boomer holiday favorite which was first broadcast live on NBC on Christmas Eve 1951 to millions of viewers and was broadcast consecutively on the network every Christmas Eve through 1966 (and became one of the most performed live holiday shows of all time as well). The composer himself told me of an unusual performance where he sat next to proud mother Jacqueline Kennedy as her children John-John and Caroline played shepherds in a production in Washington (“Caroline sporting a white beard”). This is one of those truly rare family works that is immediately accessible on every level—by both children and opera novices—and yet is still meaningful to the most seasoned opera-goers. Like Chamber Opera Chicago’s Menotti salute, which included excerpts from “Amahl,” this production will be directed by the composer’s son and former Chicagoan Francis Menotti and will be based on the 1951 original television production staging of his father with a cast that will include COC artistic director Barbara Landis as Amahl’s mother, Patrick Blackwell as Balthazar, Christopher Lorimer as Kaspar and Aaron Stegemöller as Melchior. The role of Amahl will be split between Michael Zajakowski Uhll (November 30 & December 2) and Michael Grippo (December 1). Victoria Bond will conduct. (Dennis Polkow)
At the Harold Washington Library Center’s Pritzker Auditorium, 401 S. Plymouth, (312)951-7944. This production is now closed.