Marion to get a night (and day) visitor
Music On Site will put on two free performances of “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” an opera featuring the three wise men of the nativity story, at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Marion Performing Arts Center.
The 1:30 performance is specifically for Marion students.
“Part of our mission is to bring opera to the underserved communities in Kansas,” executive director J. Bradley Baker said. “You guys are what, an hour and fifteen minutes or so from Wichita? That’s a long trip for people to go if they are interested in opera. So we bring it to these communities.”
Baker, a former Tabor College teacher, has overseen opera shows in Hesston, Newton, Hillsboro, and several schools in McPherson County as part of Music On Site since 2016.
The company receives funding from the McPherson County Community Foundation, Wichita Arts Council, and Sounds Great music store in McPherson to perform opera in rural areas.
By exposing more people to opera, Baker hopes to break stereotypes.
“It’s essentially a musical, but with a different style of music,” he said. “Usually, opera is very classically based, while current-day musicals are very heavily influenced by rock, pop, and other popular music forms. It’s the same ideas as a musical, with costumes and sets. But instead of spoken words in musicals, in opera, everything is sung.”
“Amahl” is roughly an hour long and sung in English, making it a good entry point for opera. It was written for TV and had its premiere in 1951, with various performances airing between then and 1966.
Baker said some audience members remembered the original TV version.
“When some people come for it, it’s a trip down memory lane for them,” he said.