By Ryan Gueningsman
BUFFALO, WATERTOWN, MINNEAPOLIS, MN - The West River Theater Group will present “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” with a number of special performances planned in the area in early December.
The one-act opera is an hour in length and is sung in English. “Amahl and the Night Visitors” is performed internationally every Christmas season and remains one of the most frequently-performed operas of the 20th century.
The story centers on Amahl, a poor, crippled shepherd boy living with his widowed mother. One night, the boy and his mother find the three kings knocking at their door while following a star to Bethlehem. This story remains an inspiring story of how faith, charity, unselfish love and good deeds can work miracles.
The West River Theater Group is welcoming Lucie Shores as music director for this year’s productions, according to Gary Janisch of the West River Theater Group.
Shores graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead, where she studied piano pedagogy and performance, Janisch said. As a student, she was accompanist and musical director for university opera productions, as well as accompanist for the Fargo-Moorhead Opera.
She spent a year in Austria studying accompanying and coaching at the Conservatory of Vienna.
That year, as a student of Professor Hammer (principal percussionist in the Vienna Symphony), she became the first female percussionist to perform publicly with an orchestra in the city of Vienna.
From 1974-1977, Shores taught piano at Fergus Falls Community College, worked with the MSUM opera and the Fargo Moorhead Opera company, joining the faculty of the International Music Camp in Bottineau, ND for one season.
In 1977 she returned to Europe as accompanist and participant in the First International Course for the Interpretation of Spanish Music, established by Ricardo Visus.
That year, she was hired by the main house of the Conservatory of Music in Vienna as a vocal coach and piano instructor. She performed concerts for the Wiener Festwochen, (Vienna Festival) coached voice, composed and performed incidental music for Austrian theater and cinema, taught choir at the American International School, developed a creative music summer course at the International School in Geneva, Switzerland and served on the faculty of the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz as a German Lied coach.
Shores toured on and off over the past 30 years, performing concerts in Austria, Spain, Switzerland and the United States under the auspices of various arts organizations, universities, and the Spanish Ministry of Culture.
Shores now teaches and coaches privately in Minnesota.
Janisch said Linda Schaust will be back as the director, along with Tony Schaust as set director.
The Perpich School of Arts Music Director, Janice Hunton, will have more than 20 students of her choir perform the Shepherd’s songs and dance. This high school offers an intensive coursework focused on the arts.
The cast has been working on the production since June.
Peg Janisch, playing Amahl’s Mother, and Alyssa Trautman, playing Amahl, will be back from the 2009 production.
Rich Kubista, King Balthazar, and Greg Elsen, King Kasper will also be back from the 2009 production.
Mark Reitan will be joining the existing cast as King Melchior, and Otto Kildegaard will join the cast as the page.
Shores will be the pianist, Susan Jones will play the oboe, Dana Donnay will play the second oboe and flute, Mark Lechelt will play the violin, and Jim Buchsdon will play the harp.
Performances are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2 and 3 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 4 at 2:30 p.m., at the Buffalo Community Theater in Buffalo.
Performances are also set Friday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 10 at 1 p.m. at the Watertown Performing Arts Center in Watertown,
An additional special performance is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17 at Saint Mary’s Basilica in Minneapolis.
The “good will offering” in Buffalo’s production will go to the local food shelf, and the “good will offering” in Watertown’s production will go to Love Inc., a charity that helps those in need around the community.
Saint Mary’s Basilica ticket sales will be used at the Basilica.