Arts and Entertainment

Sing a new year’s song: An opera to celebrate Epiphany

Jennifer  Krikawa will appear in
Jennifer Krikawa will appear in 'Amahl and the Night Visitors.'
— image credit: Mike Urban

Editor's note: The time and location of one of the performances was incorrectly listed in the Jan. 2 issue of The Beachcomber. The correct times and locations are listed below.

A talented ensemble of islanders will perform Gian Carlo Menotti’s famous opera, “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” this weekend — closing out the Christmas season by marking the ancient church holiday of the Epiphany.

The opera, which debuted in 1951 on NBC as the first live installment of the Hallmark Hall of Fame show, was specifically composed for a television audience. Menotti found inspiration for the piece — a retelling of the story of the journey of the three wise men who visited the infant Christ — in a painting by Hieronymus Bosch, “The Adoration of the Magi.”

Islanders who can’t imagine a high-minded time when television networks commissioned religious operas based on Dutch medieval paintings will no doubt find the production intriguing.

Beyond that, it’s a chance to hear a distinguished cast of local luminaries perform the still-popular work. The two-night run of the opera is a benefit for the Methodist and Lutheran churches of Vashon.

“Amahl” is being helmed by local choir director and singer Marita Ericksen, who has assembled the cast from membership rosters of Vashon Island Chorale, Vashon Opera, Vashon-Maury Chamber Orchestra and island church choirs.

Vashon Opera diva Jennifer Krikawa will sing the role of Mother, while a pint-sized performer with a powerful voice, Alivia Jones, will perform the part of Amahl. Jones has made frequent appearances as a soloist in Vashon Island Youth Chorus shows.

The three wise men will be sung by Jim Gilmour, Dick Paulson and Joe Farmer, and Elise Ericksen will dance the role of the Shepherdess. Max Lopuszynski will appear as the page.

A 35-member chorus will be backed up by nine instrumentalists: Evan Stults, Karin Choo, Mary Walker, Gaye Detzer, Michael Marcus, Sarah Church, Erica Walker, Erika Raven, Adam Hoagland and Aaron Stephens.

“Gian Carlo Menotti is one of my favorite composers,” said Marita Ericksen, who added that she had no trouble finding performers eager to tackle the demands of the opera. “I feel fortunate to be able to do this piece with such talented local musicians — a group of people getting together for the joy of it and to help raise funds for both churches.”

Ericksen said the opera came together quickly, after she first lined up the soloists.

“Folks just responded,” she said.

Amahl and the Night Visitors” will be performed at 7 p.m. Saturday at Vashon Lutheran Church and at 6 p.m. Sunday at Vashon Methodist Church. Admission is a free-will offering.


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