Joseph's Gift: A New Christmas Opera by Francis Lynch

11% ($3,995)
December 15th, 2016
Raised $3,995 of $34,800

About The Artist

Francis Lynch, James Janssen & Sally Craige Christensen

Francis Lynch, composer and producer, traces the roots of his lifelong passion for classical music to childhood piano lessons. He began composing music while still in high school, but it was during his term as organist and choir director at an Episcopal church in a Chicago suburb that he discovered the joy of writing sacred music, especially for chorus. A member of Chicago Master Singers for 20 seasons, he was privileged to have many of his choral settings premiered by that ensemble at their Christmas concerts, and his a cappella works have been performed from the Baltics to the Balkans as part of the program for two CMS European concert tours. In 2004, he led the orchestration team that adapted Kingsley Day’s sprightly music for the “lost” Gilbert &...

( See Full Profile)

Music at St. Matthew’s Presents the World Premiere of Joseph’s Gift

A Christmas Chamber Opera in Two Scenes by Composer Francis L. Lynch and Librettists Francis L. Lynch and Doris J. Reeser

EVANSTON, Ill., October 31, 2016–Music at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church proudly presents the world premiere performances this December of Francis Lynch’s new Christmas opera, Joseph’s Gift, a retelling of the story of Christ’s nativity from the viewpoint of the forgotten man, Joseph.

Performances will take place on Friday, December 9 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, December 10 at 7:30 p.m; and Sunday, December 11 at 3:00 p.m. at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 2120 Lincoln St., Evanston, Illinois. The opera runs approximately 80 minutes with no intermission and is sung in English with supertitles. There are 30 singers and a 20-piece, professional orchestra. This reverent and family-friendly view of Joseph’s role in the Christmas story is appropriate for all (ages six and up).

“Francis Lynch has created a beautiful work in Joseph's Gift that will make you laugh one minute and cry the next,” said James Janssen, Music Director of the production. “Its tender moments of devotion and affection followed by celebratory choruses of shepherds and angels will have you bursting with Christmas joy!”

"I decided to write something about Joseph, because I wanted to bring him out of the shadows of the Nativity and focus on the humanity of this quiet but important figure,” said Lynch, the Producer of Joseph’s Gift, who also composed the music and co-wrote the libretto. “I chose the medium of opera, because I wanted to infuse the story with music, and to use the emotional power of singing voices to express the mystery and the joy of the story.”

The Christmas story from the Bible is well known, but the opera humanizes one of its key but lesser-examined participants.

Joseph, a simple carpenter from Nazareth in the Roman province of Judea, finds his life unexpectedly complicated when he becomes betrothed to a mystical young woman named Mary. When she returns from a visit to her cousin with the news that she is with child by the Holy Spirit, Joseph must decide what to do—with the help of some angelic advice.

Later, when they reach the gates of Bethlehem to take part in the Roman census, further adventure awaits in the form of a gloomy fortuneteller, a grieving Roman magistrate, and a stubborn Roman centurion. This is the moving story of the quiet man who faces down every challenge for the sake of an unborn child.

“Just as Joseph was advised by an angel at a critical point, I received some invaluable contributions -- including the words for what would become the title song of the opera -- from an old college sweetheart with whom I had not spoken in over 40 years,” Lynch explained. Doris J. Reeser is co-author of the libretto.

“I hope that audiences will enjoy this musical portrait of the forgotten man and come away with a new appreciation of the inexhaustible riches of the Christmas story," Lynch said.

The production features baritone Zachary Angus (Joseph), soprano Hillary Esqueda (Mary), tenor Ricky Feng Nan (Aaron), mezzo-soprano Angela Torres-Kutkuhn (Seeress), and tenor Karlos Piñero-Mercado (Cornelius). Other cast members include mezzo-soprano Margaret Izard (Naomi), soprano Alexandra Olsavsky (the Angel of the Lord), baritone Gabriel Di Gennaro (Marcus), soprano Rachael Long (Acolyte 1), mezzo-soprano Abigail Grosch (Acolyte 2), bass Ivo Suarez (Magistrate), soprano Alexandra Kassouf (Soprano Narrator), mezzo-soprano Mallory Harding (Alto Narrator), tenor Nicholas Metzger (Tenor Narrator), and bass Ian McGuffin (Bass Narrator). The ensemble members are sopranos Angela Born, Joelle Kross, and Sara Wheeler; countertenor Carl Alexander; altos Katya Bakas and Kimberly Reuter; tenors Timothy Ferguson, Alexander Fruin, and Michael Ryan; and basses David Banasiak, Benjamin Finer, and Noel Taylor. In addition to Janssen and Lynch, members of the Joseph’s Gift’s production team include Sally Craige Christensen (stage director) and Mark Crayton (production coordinator).

The production is sponsored by Sheet Music Back in Print Inc. and an anonymous donor.  Photos by Bill Burlingham.


  • Orchestra contract 20,500.00
  • Stipends for cast   9,050.00
  • Stipends for staff  2,000.00
  • Costume rental      1,000.00
  • Set construction    1,000.00
  • Lighting rental     1,250.00

Total 34,800

Not comfortable donating online?  We accept donations via check as well.  Please mail donations to BELTÀ, 1712 E. Riverside Dr., Suite 25, Austin, TX 78741.  Be sure to mark "Francis Lynch" in the memo line so that your support can be routed towards this project.