A late night knock on the door will forever change Amahl's life.
The disabled boy has nothing to give, yet his selfless act will be repaid with a miracle.
The young boy's story will play out when Opéra Louisiane stages "Amahl and the Night Visitors" on Dec. 9 at The Church, formerly Christian Life Fellowship.
Gian Carol Menotti's one-act opera, the first composed for television, debuted in 1951 on the NBC Opera Theatre.
LSU Opéra Director Dugg McDonough will be directing Opéra Louisiane's telling of the popular holiday story set in biblical times.
Amahl, played by Joey Roth, lives with his mother, played by Gwendolyn Jones. They are poor and barely have oil to heat their home. The mother prays her son will not become a beggar, because he can walk only with a cane.
Then comes the knock on the door. Outside are three affluent men — King Kaspar, played by T.J. Capobianco; King Balthazar, played by Antoine Hodge; and King Melchior, played by Andre Chiang.
They are seeking a night's shelter from their quest, which is led by a star. They explain that they are carrying expensive gifts for a newborn king.
They spend the night with Amahl and his mother. The kings' page, played by Evan Hammond, awakes to find the mother trying to take some of the gold meant for the infant king. She says she was taking only enough to support Amahl, but it's still theft. Amahl rushes to his mother's defense.
To atone, both mother and son make sacrifices.
"The mother has nothing to give but her son," Jones says. "It's hard for her, but she does that."
And Amahl offers his only possession.
"He gives the Christ Child his crutch," says Roth, an 11-year-old sixth-grader at Episcopal Middle School. "I've been in musicals before, but this is my first opera. In musicals, things can go unsaid, and the audience has to fill it in. But in opera, everything is sung."
Hodge, as King Balthazar, says the story is very special.
"It's a heartwarming story about a selfless act, and I always tear up in it," he says. "I don't tell anybody that, but I do."
Hodge is a guest artist based in New York, and Opéra Louisiane's show will mark his eighth production of "Amahl and the Night Visitors."
"It's an opera I never get tired of," he says. "It's short — only an hour long — but you don't miss anything. It tells a whole story, and it's perfect."
Donating time and support to the production are area churches — First Presbyterian, The Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge, The Church Baton Rouge, First Baptist Church of Baton Rouge, University United Methodist Church, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"These churches are coming together to help us makes this a truly community production," says Leanne Clement, the company's general director. "The opera is also underwritten by the Roy O. Martin Foundation."
The audience can stay after the performance for cookies and photo opportunities with Santa Claus.
"This is an opera that families can enjoy," Clement says.
Amahl and the Night Visitors
Opéra Louisiane's holiday production
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9
WHERE: The Church, formerly Christian Life Fellowship, 2037 Quail Drive
TICKETS/INFO: $21.50; $11.50, children and students. (225) 377-2029 or opéralouisiane.com