All posts by Tony Cleeton

Amahl’s touching tale a tuneful triumph at BGSU

Composer Gian Carlo Menotti plucked the plot for “Amahl and the Night Visitors” from the folk tales of his native Italy.

The old tale is in the tradition of pastoral Christmas settings that gave birth to the Nativity scenes, bringing together Luke’s shepherds and Matthew’s Magi. But the one-act opera is more than a pageant of plaster figures come to life. – David Dupont, Sentinel News Editor

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BGSU presents Christmas opera ‘Amahl and the Night Visitors’

BOWLING GREEN, O.—The Bowling Green State University Festival Series opens the season of giving with a Christmas opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” Presented by the Bowling Green Opera Theater, performances will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 5, and at 4 p.m. Dec. 6 in the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts.

Composed by Gian Carlo Menotti, the opera is the touching story of Amahl, a poor shepherd boy with a crippled leg, who has an encounter with the three kings who are on their way to visit the newborn Jesus. During their visit, Amahl’s mother is at first tempted to steal the kings’ gold, but her impulse is later tempered into desire to meet this special baby. Amahl offers his crutch as a gift and experiences the miraculous healing of his crippled leg. The opera has captured audiences since Christmas Eve 1951, when it was first broadcast on NBC-TV. Its story line and shorter length make it appropriate for young children.

“With the shepherd’s lilting madrigal, the Kings’ magisterial music, the Mother’s soulful aria, and Amahl’s joyous songs, this opera certainly has something for everyone,” said Kevin Bylsma, BGSU College of Musical Arts faculty member, who prepared the vocalists.

Menotti said of the work, “This is an opera for children because it tries to recapture my own childhood. You see, when I was a child I lived in Italy, and in Italy we have no Santa Claus … Our gifts were brought to us by the Three Kings, instead. To these Three Kings I mainly owe the happy Christmas seasons of my childhood, and I should have remained very grateful to them … But in 1951 I found myself in serious difficulty. I had been commissioned by the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) to write an opera for television, with Christmas as a deadline, and I simply didn’t have one idea in my head. One November afternoon as I was walking rather gloomily through the rooms of the Metropolitan Museum, I chanced to stop in front of the ‘Adoration of the Kings’ by Hieronymus Bosch, and as I was looking at it, I then realized they had come back to me and had brought me a gift.”

That gift has delighted audiences ever since.

With stage direction by Geoff Stephensen, musical preparation by Bylsma and conducting by Emily Freeman Brown, the cast features Jennifer Cresswell as the Mother, Bethany Post and Maddie Russin alternating as Amahl, Tyler Dohar as King Kaspar, Richard Channell as King Melchior, Dean Moore as King Balthazar, Zach Shoot as The Page, and a chorus of shepherds including a dancing boy and girl. Set and lighting design are by Keith Hofacker, choreography by Tammy Metz Starr and stage-managing by Desiree Johnson.

Patrons attending Saturday afternoon’s performance are invited to stay afterwards for the 10th annual Arts X beginning at 5 p.m. in the Wolfe Center and Fine Arts Building. ArtsX is a free event open to the public and offers interactive activities for all ages including art sales, ceramic, glass and jewelry demonstrations, improv ensembles, musical performances, Austrian-born artist Erwin Redl’s LED art installation in the Wolfe Center foyer and a team of aerial acrobats led by Erin Pearson-Garber, among others. Visit for a complete schedule.

Tickets are $15 for the public and $5 for BGSU students and can be purchased online at or by calling the Arts Box Office at 419-372-8171.

DMA composer Hong-Da Chin will be making his Carnegie Hall debut

Second-year DMA composer Hong-Da Chin will be making his Carnegie Hall debut on Friday, November 21, as a performer on Music From China, Premiere Works XXIII, 30th Anniversary & Beyond. A native of Malaysia and a renowned expert on the dizi (Chinese flute), Mr. Chin will perform works by composers Chen Yi, Huang Ruo, Wang Guowei and Zhou Long. The concert will be repeated on Saturday, November 22, at the Freer Gallery in Washington, DC. Mr. Chin is a student of Drs. Mikel Kuehn and Marilyn Shrude.

DMA pianist Michiko Saiki wins awards with her film, “a…i…u…e…o….”

Second-year DMA pianist Michiko Saiki is the winner of several awards with her film, “a…i…u…e…o….” In September the work was competitively selected for viewing at “The Twelfth And The Last Experimental International Film Festival” in Australia. Most recently it was one of 19 out of 263 entries chosen for the “Without Words Festival” in France. Ms. Saiki’s work was created to remind people of the tragic aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake in her native country Japan. Ms. Saiki has studied with Drs. Tom Rosenkranz and Laura Melton.

Recently released recordings feature Thomas Rosenkranz, piano

Thomas Rosenkranz

Associate Professor of Piano, Thomas Rosenkranz was recently featured on three commercial recordings of chamber music on the Bridge Record and New Focus Labels.

Paul Lansky: Textures and Threads (Bridge Records)
Premiere recording of Lansky’s work: textures for two-pianos/ two percussion, with pianist, Michael Sheppard and percussionists, Svet Stoyanov and Gwen Burgett

Lei Liang: Bamboo Lights (Bridge Records)
Premiere recording of Lakescape for trio, with Tony Arnold, voice and Aiyun Huang, percussion

Nataraja (New Focus Records)
Duo Recording with Conor Nelson, flute. Works by Harvey, Levine, Carter, Dietz and others