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The University of Utah's Lyric Opera Ensemble has made a tradition the past few years of performing Gian Carlo Menotti's one-act Christmas opera, "Amahl and the Night Visitors." This year, Amahl will join Tiny Tim on an operatic double-header that also includes the world premiere of "A Christmas Carol," Michael Leavitt and Anthony Buck's one-act adaptation of the Charles Dickens novella.

Robert Breault, director of opera studies at the U., predicted that listeners will take to the new "Christmas Carol" as they have to "Amahl." Composer Leavitt (who's not to be confused with the former Utah governor) "really has a knack for composition," Breault said. Aside from the obvious plot similarities — both stories prominently feature a young boy with a crutch, and both revolve around nocturnal visitations — these are "feel-good stories" with a miraculous bent, he noted. He's also delighted at the abundance of roles. "It's the first time every single person in the opera workshop has a role to sing," he said. "A Christmas Carol" has faculty members joining the cast, another Lyric Opera Ensemble first; Breault himself will portray Jacob Marley.

The holiday presentation will feature a new musical partner and a new venue. Lyric Opera Ensemble had partnered with the Salt Lake Symphony and conductor Robert Baldwin on past productions of "Amahl," but Menotti's intimate orchestration meant that many members of the community orchestra had to sit out half the concert. Enter Sinfonia Salt Lake, the new professional chamber orchestra Baldwin also conducts. Performances will take place in the Grand Theatre on Salt Lake Community College's South City Campus, where Breault noted the proscenium stage is more conducive to a fully staged opera than the U.'s Libby Gardner Concert Hall, "Amahl's" former home.

When • Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 1-3, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 3, 2 p.m.

Where • Salt Lake Community College Grand Theatre, 1575 S. State, Salt Lake City

Tickets • $16-$22;

Catherine Reese Newton