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The LDS Conference Center stage was decked out like Sleeping Beauty's castle for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Christmas concert on Friday befitting this year's guests, an opera star whose credits include a high-profile staging of "Camelot" and a beloved actor who shares her name with an ill-fated British queen.
"Once upon a time is now, and 'our happily ever after' will come at the end of a Christmas story that only we can tell," narrator Jane Seymour proclaimed during the evening's opening processional as dancers in Renaissance garb glided down the aisles.
Seymour and baritone Nathan Gunn were as charming and professional a pair of guests as the choir has ever presented, connecting with the crowd in a next-door-neighborly way even as they pulled off their roles with consummate polish. Gunn's "world's coolest dad" demeanor belied the power and flexibility of his voice on music as diverse as the old German carol "In dulci jubilo," the aria "Mighty Lord and King All Glorious" from Bach's Christmas Oratorio and a wintry medley of "Winter Wonderland," "White Christmas" and "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" The choir gave solid support and also shone on its own in numbers including the jubilant "Domine fili unigenite" from the Poulenc Gloria.
Every Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert includes an inspirational "story behind the carol." This year, Seymour shared the story of "Good King Wenceslas" as the choir sang a fine arrangement of the familiar carol by its music director, Mack Wilberg, behind her.
Other highlights included Gunn's sensitive performance with the choir on a lovely Wilberg arrangement of "Silent Night" and organist Richard Elliott's annual mashup of carols.
The concert repeats tonight. It's officially sold out, but don't let that stop you; there were several empty seats on Friday.
Mormon Tabernacle Choir
With baritone Nathan Gunn and narrator Jane Seymour.
Where • LDS Conference Center, 60 W. North Temple, Salt Lake CIty.
When • Reviewed Friday, Dec. 16; repeats Saturday, Dec. 17, at 8 p.m.; with "Music and the Spoken Word" and miniconcert Sunday, Dec. 18, at 9:30 a.m.
Tickets • Free, but sold out; standby seating may be available.
Running time • About 90 minutes; no intermission.