Children’s choir adds touch of ‘joy’ to opera

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 15, 2000

&uot;No one can leave feeling like a Scrooge.&uot; That was Natchez Opera Festival General Director Dr. David Blackburn’s opening message to the audience of &uot;The Gift of the Magi&uot; Thursday night.

The performance included a children’s choir, and the children’s excitement spilled over as they waited backstage before their performance.

&uot;I’ve really enjoyed getting to know people from other schools,&uot; said Cathedral student Caitlin Johnson, 11.

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Madison Farmer, 9, said she has always wanted to be an opera singer.

&uot;My mom forced me to do it, but I’m glad she did,&uot; said Katie Ernst, 8, as her best friend Sarah Bryan, 7, chimed in, &uot;I just felt like singing for Jesus.&uot;

The children opened the performance by singing carols and even inviting the audience to join for a few verses.

Blackburn said this was his first time to mix a children’s choir with a musical. &uot;It’s a great time of year for kids to sing,&uot; he said. &uot;They just spread joy.&uot;

&uot;The Gift of the Magi&uot; is a two-person musical starring LSU students Tim Kennedy and Rachel Harris.

&uot;’The Gift of the Magi’ is a classic story,&uot; Kennedy said. &uot;Everyone reads it at some point and to have it come alive on stage at Christmas is a real joy.&uot;

Both Kennedy and Harris have had a lot of fun during the week of rehearsal. &uot;There is a song we call the tickle piece where I all I do is giggle,&uot; Harris said.

&uot;I sing the same phrase for six pages,&uot; Kennedy laughed. &uot;I didn’t have problems learning lines on that one.&uot;

Debbie Stewart, mother of Alex, 8, and Jamie, 9, watched from the audience. &uot;They were really excited about getting dressed up,&uot; Stewart said. &uot;They weren’t nervous, just very excited.&uot;

The final performance of &uot;The Gift of the Magi&uot; is 8 p.m. Saturday at Margaret Martin Auditorium. To reserve tickets call the Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau at 446-6345.