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``AMAHL' GETS GENTLE TREATMENT

``AMAHL' GETS GENTLE TREATMENT

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``Amahl and the Night Visitors' is a sweet, melodic opera, and it receives a sweet and delicate performance by the UNCG School of Music.

Performing Friday evening, Steven Martin played a convincing Amahl, the crippled shepherd boy who spends his days making up amazing stories.Chantal Sosa, as the mother who is driven to exasperation by Amahl's tall tales, conveyed this as well as her warm welcome when Amahl's story of three kings at the door proves true.

Sosa's rich mezzo-soprano and Martin's bell-like voice are excellent in their solos and magical when blended in their ``begging' song and their amusing and tender farewell.

The kings were all in fine voice Friday. Jesse Padgett's Melchior and Brett Pryor's Balthazar were regal, while George Johnson's Kaspar added the delightful touches of good humor.

Directed by William McIver, the first Amahl in the original televised version, this production has the warm and crowded intimacy of television, but without the close-ups one would like during solos and moments of close conversation.

Deborah Bell's costumes point up the differences between peasants and kings without going overboard. Robert Hansen's sparsely furnished set, under a brilliantly starry sky, and James R. Hullihan's lighting, leading the production through night and into a glowing dawn, are fine.

David Holley conducted the small orchestra, which played Gian-Carlo Menotti's familiar music rather softly. Music, voices and words can be swallowed up by Aycock Auditorium. Perhaps this gentle, accessible, small opera, with its message of family love and childlike faith, would play out more dramatically in a smaller theater.

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WANT TO GO?

What: ``Amahl and the Night Visitors' by Gian-Carlo Menotti, presented by UNCG School of Music

When: 8 tonight and 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Aycock Auditorium on campus

Information: 334-4849

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