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Cazenovia composers opera goes to B'ville

Durgee Junior High School Vocal Music Director Julie Caruso will present Frank DiGiacomo's opera "A Journey to Bethlehem--A Christmas Opera to be Performed by Young People" Friday and Saturday Dec. 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday Dec. 14 at 2 p.m. at the Word of Life Assembly of God Church, 12 E. Oneida St., Baldwinsville.

Ticket prices are $12 for adults, $10 for students and senior citizens, and $8 for children under 8 years. Pre-sale tickets are available through cast members or by calling Cheryl Panek at 254-3108. All checks should be made out to: Word of Life AOG.

The opera, written by the late Frank DiGiacomo, a longtime resident of Cazenovia, is said to be the first full-length serious opera ever to be written exclusively to be performed by young people. It will be performed by Baldwinsville community members and members of the Durgee Junior High School Chorus under the direction of Caruso.

DiGiacomo's "A Journey to Bethlehem" is the tender tale of a young shepherd boy, Joshua, who travels to Bethlehem with his nightingale and a group of animals to see the Christ child. After encountering many difficulties, they reach Bethlehem and experience miracles beyond the imagination.

"Journey" was first performed in December 1977 by Baldwinsville's Baker High School chorus and orchestra under the direction of Joan Basile. It was presented to rave reviews and capacity crowds in the school's auditorium.

Two years previously, the Baker chorus had been invited to sing in the pit chorus for the Opera Theater of Syracuse's presentation of another DiGiacomo opera, "Beauty and the Beast." DiGiacomo was so impressed with the attitude, ability and enthusiasm of the chorus that he offered to compose something special just for them.

Written to Basile's specifications and to take best advantage of the vocal range within the chorus, DiGiacomo composed "Journey" especially for the Baker High School Chorus. Said the composer of his involvement with the Baker cast and crew, "This has been the best experience in my creative life. I'd much rather be involved with this group than any professional opera company in the world."

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