Stephen F. Austin State University

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'Amahl and the Night Visitors' coming to Lufkin, Longview and Nacogdoches

December 8, 2009 - Sylvia Bierschenk

NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS - The Stephen F. Austin State University School of Music and Opera East Texas will be presenting Gian Carlo Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors" in three East Texas locations during the third weekend in December.

The one-act opera, written in English, will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18, at the First United Methodist Church in Lufkin, 805 E. Denman Ave; at 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, in the Pine Tree High School Auditorium in Longview, 900 Northwest Dr.; and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20, at Grace Bible Church in Nacogdoches, 315 Hayter St.

The opera tells the story of Amahl, a poor, crippled shepherd boy, and his mother who are visited by the Three Kings during their journey to the Christ Child. Since it was first produced for television in 1951, the opera has become a Christmas classic that is produced in communities throughout the United States.

"The music is gorgeous and the story and text are rich in meaning," said Dr. Deborah Dalton, SFA associate professor of voice and the production's stage director. "The entire family will enjoy this less-than-an-hour-long production."

This is the first year that Opera East Texas and SFA have partnered to present "Amahl," explained Scott LaGraff, SFA assistant professor of voice, who will be singing the part of King Melchior for the Nacogdoches performance. "We all hope that this will become a holiday fixture in the region for years to come."

Nick Shofner and Cameron LaGraff, both students at Mike Moses Middle School in Nacogdoches, will share the role of Amahl, Shofner singing the part in Lufkin, and LaGraff in Longview and Nacogdoches.

SFA students Maribel Aguilar and Stephen Hanna will sing the parts of Mother and King Melchior, respectively, during the Lufkin and Longview performances.

In Nacogdoches, Kimberly LaGraff, Nacogdoches resident, will portray Mother.

For all of the performances, SFA students Richard G. Leonberger, Patrick Wright and Bradley Kohles will portray King Kaspar, King Balthazar and the Page, respectively, and SFA faculty members Juanita Finkenberg and Stan Bobo will be the dancers.

SFA theatre students designed and built the portable set under the guidance of Dana Gloege, assistant professor of theatre, and SFA alumnus Christina DeWitt, designed the costumes.

Trey Smith, general director of Opera East Texas, expressed his excitement about the collaboration between Opera East Texas and the university. "The production satisfies two of OET's areas of focus: education and the promotion of local and regional talent. It is a wonderful show that is uplifting for the entire family."

Tickets for each performance are $10 for adults and $1 for children12 and under. Tickets can be purchased online at www.finearts.sfasu.edu or by calling the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or (888) 240-ARTS, Monday through Friday. Tickets will also be available at the door for that day's performance.