In a special 60th anniversary season production, the Cowichan Symphony Society decided to take a chance and present a live opera for Valley music lovers.
They chose the Christmas-themed family favourite, Amahl and the Night Visitors as their offering and, right from the first note of the opening performance Dec. 30 at the Christian Reformed Church, the audience was treated to an hour of mystery, magic and marvellous music.
The small cast featured strong singers throughout the lineup.
Reuben Broadway, fresh from his triumph in Elf: the Musical at the Chemainus Theatre, showed his versatility by taking on the difficult role of Amahl with impressive maturity. Heather MacGregor contributed some beautiful singing and was convincing in her part as the loving mother, exasperated by her son’s flights of fancy but willing to take any risk for him.
The three kings — Ted Rhodes, Ken Hiles and Tim Kyle — were great foils for their peasant hosts. Rhodes, in particular, shone as the childlike, eccentric and slightly deaf King Kaspar. Kenneth Broadway was a balancing presence as the page.
The dancers — Kassidy Beaudry, Mia Boulton, Izmet Barranco and Danny Mosquera — added a note of gaiety to the scene and the entry of the chorus of shepherd families was electrifying as the small group of excellent singers appeared to come from everywhere, filling the building with their exuberant music.
Music director/flautist/percussionist Joy Ann Bannerman, pianist Rykie Avenant and bass player Barb Cleary provided instrumental support without ever overwhelming the singers.
It’s never easy to present opera in English but the lyrics came across well and the action on stage was easy to follow, making the story really family friendly for the all-ages audience.
By the end of the first night, the production had earned a standing ovation and we add our congratulations for a fine job all around.