MANCHESTER, NH – (February 3, 2023) – Candia, N.H. resident, Natalie Bender, a senior at Saint Anselm College, directed, co-produced, and performed in the college’s first opera in the Dana Center for the Humanities as her senior thesis project. “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” a one-act opera composed by Gian Carlo Menotti in 1951, tells the fictional story of a young peasant boy and his widowed mother who received an unexpected visit from the Bethlehem-bound Three Kings.

The performance, co-produced with Professor of Music Sean Parr, Ph.D., featured professional opera singers, a full orchestra and was in collaboration with faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members and professional actors. Bender was responsible for playing in the orchestra pit, coordinating the ensemble, choreographing, and designing costumes, props and sets.

A fine arts and great books double major, Bender discovered a passion for the arts at an early age studying violin and ballet growing up and later competitive Irish dance, community theater, sacred choral singing and viola. She participates in the chamber music program on campus, sings soprano in the college choir, and upon graduation hopes to work as a secondary school teacher and play violin and/or viola in community ensembles.

Bender’s goal for her production was to create a performance where parents could bring their children. “Someone called it ‘refreshing’ and people laughed,” said Bender. “When the kids think it’s funny, that’s when you know it is successful. We got the kids to laugh.

“I feel incredibly humbled and excited that I get to have the experience,” said the Great Books and Fine Arts double major. “Most people wouldn’t be able to have this at other colleges. The one-on-one attention you get from faculty members is special. I didn’t know it [the performance] would be so different for the college. I have received a lot of support. The professors get extremely excited for me and the production, and it is an irreplaceable feeling.”


ABOUT SAINT ANSELM COLLEGE: Founded in 1889, Saint Anselm College is a four-year liberal arts college providing a 21st century education in the Catholic, Benedictine tradition. Located in southern New Hampshire near Boston and the seacoast, Saint Anselm is well known for its strong liberal arts curriculum, the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, a highly successful nursing program, a legacy of community service and a commitment to the arts.

To download full image, right-click and choose “save image as”