Opera program offers free shows to students, public

Opera program offers free shows to students, public

Scene from "Amahl and the Night Visitors."
Courtesy photo
Scene from "Amahl and the Night Visitors."

Fifteen years ago, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Glenn Korff School of Music began a holiday tradition – “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” The tradition continues Dec. 9 when the group presents the opera in the Studio Theatre of the Temple Building on campus.

Fifteen years ago, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln's opera program started offering free performances of "Amahl and the Night Visitors" to Lincoln Public Schools students and the public.

That tradition continues with shows on Dec. 9 in the Temple Building's Studio Theatre. Public performances are 1:30 and 3 p.m. Dec. 9. Reservations are encouraged.

The opera program, which is a part of the Glenn Korff School of Music, will also perform in Central City on Dec. 10. Dane Christensen, music director for Central City High School, is a Nebraska graduate.

“It is a great introduction to opera. The show runs at under an hour. It is in understandable English. The story is easy to grasp. The music is tuneful and accessible,” said William Shomos, professor of music and director of the opera program. “Even though the opera is richly and deeply rooted in the biblical Christmas story, the piece has a universal message promoting kindness and generosity as valuable human qualities."

Since the first year, the performance has been open to fifth graders from Lincoln Public Schools' Title 1 elementary schools. Student populations in the Title 1 schools have a large percentage of low income families.

“If we had the resources, we’d do it for all LPS fifth graders, but we decided to target those communities that are not as likely to have the means to have access to live opera,” Shomos said. “That age range has proven to be very receptive to this opera, perhaps, in part, because the protagonist, Amahl, is a young boy their own age, who faces adversity that he must overcome.”

The cast is made up of students from the Glenn Korff School of Music while the Shepherd’s Chorus is made up of students from the university but also from LPS high schools. The high school students this year include Lincoln Northeast, North Star and Lincoln Southwest.

“Since the inception of the project, we have collaborated each year with LPS high schools,” Shomos said. “On a rotating basis, choir directors from the six high schools supply the shepherd’s chorus.”