ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 5 * * All Arts News On the Web * * December 20, 2001


      ArtBits always features a calendar of the goings on of Franklin County artists. Check out these events around Franklin County. Each issue includes the entire text of our weekly newspaper column.

      Stop in for the AAC CoffeeHouses at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month. These gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, "show-and-tell" and workshops. We come together on the second Wednesday for a booked musical performance and an art exhibit at Simple Pleasures in St Albans. On the fourth Wednesday come to the Kept Writer in St Albans for acoustic Open Mike Night featuring music, readings, and more from the best new artists in Vermont.


      This Sunday, the Opera House at Enosburg Falls presents the Vermont Opera Theater Company performance of Amahl and the Night Visitors by Gian Carlo Menotti. The first opera written expressly for television, this hour-long, one-act show has been a holiday tradition for 50 years. In clear, attractive music, it tells the fanciful story of a shepherd boy's encounter with the three kings on their way to Bethlehem.
      The imaginative--and lame--Amahl and his mother live in poverty. When he tells his mother of a bright star and of approach of three kings, she thinks he is spinning another tale.
      As the visitors sleep, Amahl's mother tries to steal money from her guests to alleviate her desperate poverty. The page seizes her while Amahl tries to defend her with his crutch. When the Kings take leave, Amahl offers them his crutch as a present for the Child. There is a miraculous cure and the boy joins the kings to continue their journey to Bethlehem.
      Vermont Opera Theater features professional talent to produce works of musical theater as well as opera sung in English. Their repertoire also includes The Merry Widow, The Barber of Seville, and I Pagliacci, and the premiere of Pablo's Circus by Vermont composer Ernest Stire. The company offers opera workshops and annual Foliage Art Song Master Classes.
      Amahl is sung by Brattleboro teenager and treble Jess Callahan; Amahl's Mother is mezzo Wendy Hoffman Farrell; King Kaspar, tenor John Tisbert; King Melchior, baritone Joseph Garofalo; King Balthazar, Boston Lyric Opera bass-baritone Fred Sebastian Furnari; the Page to the Kings, baritone James Blanchard. The live performance is conducted by VYO Philharmonia music director Anne Decker, and staged by Tim Tavcar, Executive Director of the Vergennes Opera House. The opera is accompanied by a 19-piece orchestra.
      "It's a hybrid production," Mr. Tavcar said. "We are going for reasonably realistic costumes and representational set pieces." Because it needs to be portable, the set is a series of bookended flats that surround a space for Amahl's home plus "a star we will hang from the balcony. It looks like you took a pie cutter to the side of a house. Fortunately, we don't have to go crazy with furniture because they are very poor.
      "The costumes look rather regal in their bearing. It's great, of course, because all we really need [for Amahl] are lots of wool and sheepskins, and Vermont can easily provide that."
      The All Arts Council exhibit of Vermont Photography in the Opera House Gallery will close Sunday after a successful six-week run. The landscapes, portraits, seascapes, and fine art imagery include the work of AAC member artists Bob Brodeur, Dick Harper, April Henderson, David Juaire, Gustav Verderber, and Wayne Tarr.
      Amahl and the Night Visitors opens at 5 p.m. on December 23 in the Opera House at Enosburg Falls. Admission to Amahl and the Night Visitors is $12 for adults, and $6 for youth 18 and under. Save a buck by buying in advance at Merchants Bank and Spears Pharmacy and at Swanton Rexall. Call 802-933-6171 or click here for more info.


      Counterpoint presents a Christmas program Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the UVM Recital Hall, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Grace Church-Rutland, and Sunday at 4 p.m. in the Presbyterian Church of Barre.
      The Christmas program will be a variety of Hodie Christus Natus est. "We'll be doing four motets by Poulanc, some of Benjamin Britten's 'Ceremony of Carols,'" said Claire Hungerford. "The second half is more traditional with 'What Child is This,' 'Away in a Manger,' 'Good King Wencelas,' 'We Three Kings,' carols from different countries and the original version of 'Jingle Bells' that is actually called a 'One Horse Open Sleigh.'" It will be performed by sopranos Colleen Flynn Campbell, and Claire Hungerford; altos Louise De Cormier, Linda Radtke, and Melissa Chestnut Tangerman; tenors Piero Bonamico, Eric Brooks, and Roger Grow; and basses Danny Lichtenfelde and Brett Murphy.
      Tickets are available at the Flynn Box Office for $14/adults, $7/students under 18, and children under 6 free. Call 877-481-0303 for info and 86-FLYNN to charge by phone.


SWANTON--The All Arts gallery at the Swanton Free Public Library presents Diana Herder Bennett with five pieces of whimsical hand-built pottery and Joy Mashtare with watercolor landscape and non-figurative abstracts. The exhibit will be up through January 11.
ST ALBANS--Alan DeMont has a new series of paintings on exhibit at The Kept Writer. The show includes three new works in his Native American series, a portrait of Van Gogh when he had his ear, and a "thoroughly appropriate" portrait of a woman drinking coffee. 8x10 and 11x17 Color reproductions are available for sale at the cafe.


ST. ALBANS--The Franklin County Early Childhood Advisory Council is hosting an informal annual holiday celebration tomorrow from 12 noon to 2 p.m. in the lobby at the Comfort Inn. Jack McCarthy will play classical guitar. Kathryn Kuba and Mark Sustic will run through their repertoire of harp/fiddle tunes. Expect good conversation and refreshments.
      There will be open session time that will include Dave Hoke, Gerry Faulkenberg, Frank Heyburn and Mrk Sustic from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. "We'll likely be playing mostly old time fiddle tunes, with a few yelps and shouts thrown in, unless someone is forceful enough to push it in another direction," Mr. Sustic said. "Anyone else is welcome to join us."

WINOOSKI--Tammy Fletcher and Nobby Reed play a benefit for the Food Shelf at Higher Ground on Saturday. Bring money, canned goods, and a love of music.

ST ALBANS--The Kept Writer celebrates the holidays on Sunday at 2 p.m. with John Nicholls playing music and reading A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas plus Ryan Ladeau reading Twas The Night Before Christmas. As an added incentive, Jedd and Launie's families will be there on a quality assurance mission and there will be free party food.


FIFTH ANNUAL PEACE ARCH PARK INTERNATIONAL SCULPTURE EXHIBITION (December 31)--Artists from the United States and Canada will be featured before 500,000 annual visitors in North America's most celebrated peace park in Blaine, Washington. The criteria for selecting the art for exhibition includes artistic impression, quality, durability, aesthetic appeal, and park and community appropriateness. The top three entries receive cash awards. Click here or e-mail for a prospectus.

WEARABLE ART EXHIBITION & PERFORMANCE EVENT (December 31)--National juried exhibition of wearable art and fashion at the Sumter County Cultural Commission. Juried. Entry fee. All media accepted. Click here or e-mail for info. 2001 LITERARY AWARD (December 31)--$3000 given annually for outstanding book of poetry, fiction or creative nonfiction relating to New England. Entry must be published in 2001 and have connection to New England through author, theme or setting. No fee. Have your publishers submit 6 copies to: PEN New England, Box 400725, North Cambridge MA 02140

YOUNG WRITERS ESSAY CONTEST (December 31)--Five $10,000 grants available to students 12-18. Subject is why you are not a smoker. Click here for detailed guidelines and proposal criteria

CURRENT WORK 2002 (January 11, 2002)--A juried national competition of two-dimensional works at the Rosenthal Gallery of Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. Entry fee. Click hereor e-mail for a prospectus.

DOROTHEA LANGE-PAUL TAYLOR PRIZE (January 31)--the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University offers this $10,000 award to promote the collaboration between a writer and a photographer in the formative or fieldwork stages of a documentary project. Collaborative submissions on any subject are welcome. They accept submissions during the month of January only. Click here for guidelines.


      As if you didn't have enough to do this weekend. A. Pintura: Art Detective is an online game about art history and composition. In the game, you play a 1940's noir detective hired by a distraught woman. Your job is to identify the artist who created a painting she found in her grandfather's attic.
      A. Pintura: Art Detective is designed for 4th-graders and up. It includes teaching tools, art concepts and vocabulary, and features Raphael, Titian, Millet, Van Gogh, and Gauguin.


      ArtBits features a quick weekly peek at the bookshelf or night stand of the folks you know in and around Franklin County. That popular feature has a page of its own at the Franklin County Bookshelf here on the AAC site.


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      This article was originally published in the St Albans Messenger and other traditional print media. It is Copyright © 2001 by Richard B. Harper. All rights reserved. Archival material is provided as-is. Links are not necessarily maintained (if a link in this article fails, try or your favorite search engine).
      Thanks to recent misuse of copyright material on the Internet by individuals and archival firms alike, we emphasize that your rights to this article are limited to viewing it and printing it for personal use only. You must receive explicit permission from the All Arts Council and the author before reprinting or redistributing this article in any medium.