THE Nativity scene is famous for the story of the three kings travelling to visit the baby Jesus, led by the light of a travelling star.

When York Opera take to the stage next Wednesday and Thursday to perform Amahl And The Night Visitors and The First Nowell, they have decided to do things a bit differently. Not only will they double the number of kings visiting the baby Jesus, but also they will bring along a Junior Bake Off contestant to the manger.

The reason for this increased number of wise men is the double-headed nature of this York Opera Christmas production at the National Centre for Early Music in York. They will be performing two pieces back to back, the first being the one-act opera Amahl And The Night Visitors, which tells the story of a young boy and his chance encounter with the three kings.

The second, The First Nowell, is a more traditional account of the Nativity story with excerpts from the mystery plays, so an increased number of kings is required.

Fortunately, plenty of suitably regal candidates were available. In Amahl And The Night Visitors, the three travelling monarchs are played by Ian Thomson-Smith, Hamish Brown and Duncan Campbell, and in The First Nowell, by Ian Small, Peter Burgess and Michael Foster. It was also fortunate that Maggie Soper was on hand to provide all six with outfits befitting royalty.

In the first performance of the night, the three kings stop for a rest at the home of a young boy called Amahl, setting off a chain of dramatic events that will change the boy and the kings’ lives forever. In this production, however, the three kings can be guaranteed of a truly wonderful welcome, as the young actor playing the role of Amahl is quite the culinary whizz.

York Press:

Isaac Greenhill as Amahl with Becky Smith as his mother in York Opera's Amahl And The Night Visitors

Earlier this year, Isaac Greenhill starred in the Junior Bake Off, wowing television audiences with his baking abilities. It’s a big change moving from the white tent to the National Centre for Early Music for this one-act opera. However, he is enjoying the chance to show off his acting and singing skills, to complement his skills in the kitchen.

“I’m really proud to have been a part of both shows,” Isaac says. “I really like to be on stage. I performed earlier this year in the University of York’s production of The Magic Flute, and after this I’ll be taking part in The Phantom Of The Opera next year.”

The three kings can be sure of a feast on arrival at his house, especially when Amahl’s fellow shepherds bring them food before providing entertainment with a rumbustious dance number. This doesn’t faze Isaac, however. “I actually find it quite fun, because they give me plenty to do,” he says.

The journeys of Amahl and the six kings will take place in the NCEM on December 16 and 17 at 7.30pm. Box office: 01904 658338 or at

By Michael Foster