We ended last week noting some drama around the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre’s production of Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors.
Countertenor Joshua Steinbach, whose voice reportedly helped persuade UK Opera to revive the show, fell ill on production week and was in bed with the flu while the rest of the company* worked toward opening night. SCAPA student Grace Brown, who had sung the role before, was brought in to sing for Steinbach for dress rehearsals and potentially play the part in some or all of the three weekend shows.
Well, Steinbach rallied and sang all three performances at the Lyric Theatre this weekend. Since I had a son in the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra contingent that played for the performances, reviewing it would be a clear conflict of interest. But I will say Steinbach has a luminous instrument and delivered engaging performances that never seemed to betray any effects of his illness. It was nice that he was able to complete the story of being a freshman taking on a lead role in his first semester, and a treat to opera fans, who it seemed turned out good crowds for each show, particularly considering there were a number of more familiar shows around town in better-known venues.
* Junior Jonathan Adams didn’t have quite as happy an ending, for this show, at least. As Amahl director Gregory Turay and his colleagues were absorbing the news that their title performer was down with the flu, they learned Adams, cast as King Balthazar, suffered an appendicitis. As Wednesday night’s rehearsal went on, he was in surgery. Fortunately, he is recovering well, and we will sing for Lexington again. But he was replaced this weekend by assistant director Thomas Gunther. The costume fit.