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West Orange Times & Observer Friday, Dec. 15, 2017 1 year ago

Opera Orlando comes to downtown Winter Garden

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Opera Orlando will host a special performance of its holiday show, “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” in downtown Winter Garden.
by: Brittany Gaines Reporter

WINTER GARDEN For the first time, Opera Orlando is bringing its holiday show to downtown Winter Garden.

The special showing of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” is part of the organization’s community outreach, which included shows in Winter Park and Kissimmee. For Opera Orlando, the show is about spreading holiday cheer and exposing more people to the world of opera.

“I’m a big proponent of if you sit in a seat and listen to opera and listen to the voices, you’ll love it,” said Gabriel Preisser, executive director of Opera Orlando. “It’s important to get the kids in the seats so they learn to enjoy it at a young age.”

“Amahl and the Night Visitors” was written in 1951 by Gian Carlo Menotti and is set at the time of Christ’s birth. The opera follows the story of the three kings as they encounter Amahl, a disabled shepherd boy.

“Our goal is to transport our audiences to fully experience the wonder of the season,” said Grant Preisser, one of the show’s directors.

One of the reasons that the organization chose to perform “Amahl and the Night Visitors” again this year was because of it’s ability to reach a wide audience, said Gabriel Preisser.

“It’s an American opera, so it’s in English,” he said. “And it’s short - it’s only 45 minutes - and it’s a Christmas opera.”

To help bring more families to the show, Opera Orlando partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida, so all children may attend the show for free.

“This is something that’s more for the family, more for kids,” Gabriel Preisser said. “We want it to be family friendly.” 

And it’s the music that brings the show to life.

“Like so many others, I find this work to be irresistible,” said Robin Jensen, Opera Orlando’s music director, who will conduct the show. “The story, the music and the characters seem directly wired to the heart. The creative team we’ve put together are devising a production that will only magnify the magic of this work.”

Bringing the show to Winter Garden was largely thanks to Barbara Roper - a longtime supporter of Opera Orlando.

“Barbara used to be on the board,” Gabriel Preisser said. “So when (her daughter) Becky Roper found out we were doing this show, she said that we should bring it out there because her mom would love it.”

At the Winter Garden show, the role of Amahl will be played by 12-year-old Jeremiah Tavey, who  attends Howard Middle School Academy of Arts and is a member of the Opera Orlando Youth Company.

For Gabriel Preisser, the goal of the show is to establish a tradition of bringing opera to Winter Garden.

“It’s not this daunting art form,” he said. “We’ve grown up with it in one way or another, so it’s just about getting it out in the community. It’s something we can fall in love with.”

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