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CRITICS' CHOICES

OPERA
THOSE SEASONAL 'VISITORS'

OK, do you want to know what kind of a dent Gian Carlo Menotti's opera "Amahl and the Night Visitors" has made in North American culture? Consider this: Since its introduction on NBC television in December 1951, it has been the only major Christmas work other than Handel's "Messiah" to achieve ubiquity. Every major population center seems to pop up with a production of "Amahl" each Christmas. That doesn't rival the several performances of "Messiah" per season, of course, but nothing else is even close to these two. And this year it's a high-level production of "Amahl" that will be brought to Western New Yorkers by the Greater Buffalo Opera Company, part of a doubleheader that will also include Menotti's charming but less often seen "Help, Help, the Globolinks," a fantasy about space creatures that can be controlled only by the sound of children's music. And you have three chances to see this pair of one-act operas, today and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. or Sunday at 2:30 p.m., all performances at Rockwell Hall on the Buffalo State College campus. Starring in the title role of the young, crippled Amahl is 14-year-old Jonathon Scarozza, a member of St. Paul's Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys since he was 7 and now its head chorister. The other leading role, Amahl's mother, is sung by Denise Blackmore; portraying the three kings are Daniel Windnagle, Thomas Delahunt and Timothy Kennedy. In "Globolinks," the principals are soprano Luann Aronson of Dallas as Emily and Buffalo soprano Beth Barrow-Titus as Madame Euterpova. Gary Burgess is stage director for both productions, with Charles Peltz conducting the orchestra and voices from the pit.

-- Herman Trotter

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