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Two Liverpool churches to stage Christmas opera

James O. Welsch, music director for Liverpool First United Methodist Church, looks at music for "Amahl and the Night Visitors" with Eileen Brody, music director for St. Joseph the Worker Church. The two churches are teaming up to present the opera to the community as a gift for Advent.

James O. Welsch, music director for Liverpool First United Methodist Church, looks at music for "Amahl and the Night Visitors" with Eileen Brody, music director for St. Joseph the Worker Church. The two churches are teaming up to present the opera to the community as a gift for Advent. Photo by Sarah Hall.

— Two area churches have joined forces to put on a classic Christmas story as an Advent gift to the community.

“Amahl and the Night Visitors” tells the story of three kings, a widowed mother, and her crippled son, who gives his only possession, his crutch, to the Christ child and is healed on the first Christmas. The one-hour opera, penned by Gian Carlo Menotti, was first produced for NBC Television Theater on Christmas Eve 1951. Now it’s being brought to the Liverpool community by St. Joseph the Worker Roman Catholic Church and Liverpool First United Methodist Church.

The idea for the production came from James O. Welsch, LFUMC music director. Welsch also teaches at the Setnor School of Music at Syracuse University. Welsch said the show typifies the message of the season, regardless of a person’s spirituality.

“The message is clear,” he said. “Even if you’re not religious at all, the message is clear in that we give something of ourselves to others as an obligation to some extent – being wholesomely connected with another person. We share that as ours and we receive what is not ours. The theme of this is the general holiday feeling of experiencing hope and joy in a season and in people. If you are religious, it has that very sound sort of theological base about the birth of the Christmas child.”

Linda Loomis, a member of the choir at LFUMC, called Welsch “a visionary” and said he not only wanted to do “Amahl,” but to invite participation from another area church.

“It did kind of start with James having this idea that together in the community, we could do something bigger than what we could do with just one group of people,” Loomis said. “So we invited the St. Joe’s people and met with them a couple of times in August. We had those preliminary, exploratory meetings – would it work?”

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