The Miracle of Light (2016)

Composer Victoria Bond and librettist Susan L. Roth were commissioned by The Young People’s Chorus of New York City to create a work that could be shared by choruses and opera companies. The Miracle of Lightr includes song, dance, vivid projected visuals and instrumental accompaniment that incorporates beloved traditional Hanukkah melodies and new music composed by Bond in a compelling, universal story of transformation and enlightenment.

Opera encompasses all of the arts and is a natural way to expose children to music, dance, costume and stage design, drama, history, and poetry. Such an intense experience at an early age can encourage a life-long appreciation.

The appeal of The Miracle of Light has been demonstrated in two productions with Chamber Opera Chicago (2016, 2017) as well as workshops produced by The Young People’s Chorus of New York City. The Huffington Post wrote about this welcome addition to the holiday repertoire:

The new opera Miracle! wina hearts and transforms the musical education of children. ---Huffington Post

“A Hanukkah opera for children is such a wonderfully exciting idea,” said Francisco Núñez, Artistic Director of The Young People’s Chorus. "I feel that children should be exposed to opera. I want them to be engaged in this sophisticated art form. We were so happy to present the workshop of this universally appealing new music for parents and their children to enjoy together.”

There are few opportunities for families to experience the Hanukkah holiday with a theatrical event. In addition, this opera is appropriate for a multicultural audience, as it celebrates a universal experience. The story (synopsis below) is about a boy who is ridiculed by his classmates because of his inability to sing. He feels alienated from his peers. During the course of the story he gains confidence in himself through a compassionate classmate. The miracle of the story takes place when, encouraged by his friend, he joins the others in singing. The story within a story takes place during the course of a lesson where the children learn about the meaning of Hanukkah. The determination of the Jewish people to rebuild their temple is seen as a metaphor for the boy’s determination to overcome his inability and the girl’s support in helping him to achieve his goal.


A teacher tells her pupils about the Jewish holiday, Hanukkah. Several children question why they should learn about this holiday, as they aren’t Jewish. The teacher explains that even though they come from different backgrounds, they can benefit (Look Around You). She explains that the holiday celebrates a miraculous event (What is a Miracle?). She explains that the Temple, desecrated by the enemy, was rebuilt, and that oil lamps for the dedication ceremony burned for eight days even though there was only enough oil for one (Eight Full Days of Oil). The children learn the Hanukkah prayer for lighting the lamps; how to play a game called Dreidel; the typical Hanukkah foods eaten during the holiday. Together they all build a giant Menorah.
Eli has difficulty singing. The children tease him because he cannot carry a tune. The teacher asks him to mouth the words while the other children sing. He is embarrassed and humiliated, and does not participate in the songs or games or in building the Menorah. Eli stays behind as the rest of the class leaves for recess. He questions why he can’t sing (Help Me Find My Voice). He becomes agitated and inadvertently knocks over the Menorah which crashes to the floor and breaks. Frightened by what he has done, he rushes out of the classroom.
Abby is the first child to return. She sees the broken Menorah, is upset and wonders why it was destroyed (Defy the Darkness). Eli waits outside the classroom door, hearing Abby’s lament. Eli enters, does not reveal that he broke the Menorah, but confesses that he did not participate in building it. Abby assures him that as a member of the class he is also included and that he is her friend. Eli gratefully accepts her friendship, eager to be accepted. (You Are My Friend).
Gradually the class members enter, each one viewing the broken Menorah with dismay (How Did Our Menorah Fall?). The teacher returns. Seeing how upset the children are, she encourages them to rebuild the Menorah, drawing a parallel with the rebuilding of the temple in the Hanukkah story (If They Did It, We Can Do It). The children work together. When the Menorah is repaired, they form a circle around it and sing (Let’s Hold Hands). At first Eli is hesitant to join in the song, but Abby gives him the courage to try, and when he does, everyone is astonished to hear that he has a beautiful voice (It’s a Miracle!). They celebrate by all joining hands and dancing and singing around the Menorah, which suddenly and spontaneously bursts into a brilliant light, creating the second miracle.

Posted: Sep-1-2018
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