Opera Stars Hang Over Malibu Holiday Tradition

Opera Stars Hang Over Malibu

Malibu Ballet & Performing Arts Society Presents “Amahl and the Night Visitors”

By Josephine Louis

 On Tuesday Evening, at Pepperdine Center for the Art’s Smothers Theatre, I attended an Opera entitled, “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” Written in 1951 by the Italian composer, Gian Carlo Menotti for the first television broadcast of NBC’s Hallmark Hall of Fame, the piece illustrates a charming, moving and poignant holiday tale of the Three Kings as they follow an unusual star to Bethlehem in search of the fulfillment of a prophesy. I was so delighted by the production, presented by the Malibu Ballet & Performing Arts Society in conjunction with the Malibu Friends of Music, with dancers Nikki & Ethan White, that I found I made a return visit again on Wednesday for the second and final performance of this surprising work.

 Perceptively and virtuosically conducted by Scott Hosfeld, , with effectively powerful stage direction by Jodi Plaia, and Erin Walley’s magical set design, the entire cast shone as brightly as the crystal star of Menotti’s libretto. Isabella Thatcher, in the title role of Amahl, represented the innocence and sensitivity of the character with her crystal clear soprano voice and truly compelling acting. The chemistry Ms. Thatcher shared with Nandani Maria Sinha as “The Mother,” was exquisitely rendered, as the two communicated seamlessly and convincingly. Extraordinarily sung with, a richness that one might hear on the stage of the Met,  Ms. Sinha’s depiction was captivating from start to finish.  

 Patrick Blackwell of the Los Angeles Opera,  presented a regal, comforting and elegant Balthazar, performing with his glorious baritone voice that truly surrounds the listener with incredulity. Dimitri Smith as Melchior sang with an authority and a gentleness, creating a King full of complexity and understanding, while the San Francisco born tenor, Gustavo Hernandez, brought brilliant vocal ease, comedy and a zany quality to his charming King Kaspar. Johar Hernandez-Carr as “The Page” performed with vitality and elegance, adding his round full tenor to the ensemble of the kings, yet shining in his solo moments. The Shepherds Chorus was delightful and engaging.

 Principal dancers Nikki & Ethan White, and their ensembles performed almost spiritually in several spots throughout the opera, including a jaw-dropping, sultry ballad as they entertain the Kings (who have stopped at the home of Amahl and his Mother to rest awhile). 


An article in the Malibu Times (December 10, 2014) http://www.malibutimes.com/malibu_life/article_34c5a306-80b9-11e4-8616-5329fe7961aa.html  represents the critical role that producer Deborah La Gorce Kramer brought to the production as she and the Malibu Ballet Society have produced a holiday treat for the community, performing the   “Nutcracker Ballet” in Malibu for the past 27 years.   This year preserves that wonderful tradition and paves the way to a bright future!!


If Tuesday and Wednesday nights are any indication of the future of the arts in Malibu, then we are in good hands.

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