From left, Matthew Holter, Dianne Iauco, Ava Galbraith (front), Arizeder Urreiztieta (back) and Larry Alexander will perform in “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” The opera runs twice on Saturday.

Serena Zelezny

Friends of Music at St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal Church will present Gian Carlo Menotti’s beloved opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors” on Saturday at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m.

St. Philip’s Friends of Music committed to a full-blown, professional production of “Amahl,” intending to create a festive, high-quality musical event and offer a gift to the larger Tucson community — especially those who may never have experienced the excitement of a live vocal drama.

The production draws upon professional musicians at St. Philip’s as well as other professionals to perform, direct and stage manage.

The title role will be performed by Ava Galbraith, a treble member of the St. Philip’s Youth Choir. The remaining principal roles will be performed by professional singers who are also members of the church.

Dianne Iauco has performed the soprano operatic role of Amahl’s mother many times, knowing every twist and turn in the score.

The Three Kings will be performed by Matthew Holter, well known for his sense of comedy. In his hands the hard-of-hearing King Kaspar will have the comedic flair the role deserves.

Larry Alexander‘s artistic sensitivity highlights the compassionate side of King Melchior, and Arizeder Urreiztieta’s stentorian delivery underscores the dignified and mysterious King Balthazar.

In the role of the Page, UA student James Mendola (who sang the role of Amahl as a treble) displays a talent worth watching. Chorus roles will be filled by members of St. Philip’s adult choirs and St. Nicholas Choir members, directed by Anne Boyer Cotton. The choreographers and dancers are also St. Philip’s in the Hills parishioners.

Tom Cockrell, who is the Nelson Riddle Endowed Chair in Music at the UA, director of orchestral activities and music director of the UA Opera Theater, will direct the 20-musician orchestra and a 25-member vocal cast.

Artistic producer Kevin Lane Justus will coordinate the myriad activities associated with production support, including costuming, set design, stage design and equipment preparation.

Stage manager David Alexander Johnston has the task of transforming the St. Philip’s Church environment into an operatic stage and set with suggestive period realism.

Admission is a suggested donation of $20 at the door, but no one is turned away for inability to pay.

Reserved and premium seating is available at a higher cost at or by calling 222-7277.

St. Philip’s is at 4440 N. Campbell Ave. at East River Road. Parking is available in the north parking lot or under the solar covered parking structure on the east side.

Proceeds from the production will support the youth choirs at St. Philip’s in the Hills by providing scholarships for summer choral music workshops as well as instrumental and choral training during the school year.

About “Amahl”

Amahl is a 50-minute work that for many years has been the most frequently performed opera in the United States. While usually presented before Christmas, it is really about the gifts of Epiphany and the revealing of the Holy Child to the world. The opera is set in the Holy Land at the time of the birth of Christ.

Amahl is a 10-year-old shepherd who is crippled and must walk with the aid of a crutch he made. His widowed mother was forced to sell their sheep, and they now live in deepening poverty. She is at the end of her rope. One star-filled winter evening, three Magi appear at their door, seeking shelter for the night before they continue their journey.