Opera@Augustana brings Christmas magic alive
2009 Nov 5Augustana's opera singers will delight audiences with their heartwarming performance of "Little Thieves of Bethlehem" from Friday, November 20, through Sunday, November 22, at 8 p.m. in Wallenberg Hall at Denkmann Memorial Building (3520 7th Ave.). The opera is set in Bethlehem after Jesus' birth and follows three outcast children who find new hope in the Christmas story. Augustana students will be only the second group to perform "Little Thieves of Bethlehem," which was first performed in Rochester, N.Y., in the 1990s. The story focuses on an orphaned brother and sister in Bethlehem who must steal food to keep from starving. They are shunned by children and adults in their community, but they are the first to hear Mary sing to her new baby. The three kings who come to see Jesus also bring along a child servant who is an outcast, but is embraced in the Christmas story. The opera runs approximately 55 minutes. Kelly Mitroff, a vocal music major who will play the innkeeper's wife, says the performance is fun and family-friendly. "This opera has a song about a camel, which seems to come out of nowhere. It gives everyone a break from the drama of what's going on, and let's face it, you just can't go wrong with a song about a spitting camel," says Mitroff. Melissa Goode, a senior music major from Davenport, will play the lead role of Mary. Goode has performed with Opera@Augustana in the past, but finds this production to be particularly special because it is only the second time the show has been performed. "It is a twist on the traditional story of Christ's birth, so that will make it new and exciting for audiences," she says. "The magic of Christmas comes alive to all on stage and in the audience," says Dr. John Pfautz, professor of voice and the opera's director and producer. Pfautz founded Opera@Augustana shortly after coming to Augustana in 1987. He earned his Doctorate of Musical Arts from West Virginia University where he studied under Frances Yeend and has performed as the featured tenor soloist in operas throughout the United States and Canada. Pfautz is excited that "Little Thieves of Bethlehem" includes some of the faculty and staff's children, in addition to Augustana students. Aislinn Geedy, daughter of biology professors Dr. Dara Wegman-Geedy and Dr. Kevin Geedy; Mackenzie Parboosingh, daughter of theater professor Adam Parboosingh; and Robert Ducey, son of Beth Ducey from art history, will appear onstage as local children.