(++) Amahl and the Night Visitors (1951 Menotti), opera & libretto

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1955 American TV production
1978 American TV production
1983 Sheboygan stage production
London stage production
Amahl Adelaide.jpg
Amahl Cheshire.jpg
Amahl Spartanburg.png
Swedish stage production
2008 California stage production
2012 Hawaii stage production
2012 Texas stage production
2014 Kentucky stage production
2014 Hudson stage production
2014 Riverside stage production
2015 Knoxville stage production
2015 Kentucky stage production
2016 Cincinnati stage production
2016 New Hampshire stage production
2016 Maryland stage production
2016 Salisbury stage production
2016 Riverside stage production

Amahl and the Night Visitors (1951) is an opera by Gian Carlo Menotti (mus. and libr.).


The first opera specifically composed for television in America was broadcast on 24 December 1951, at the NBC studios.

The history between NBC and composer Gian Carlo Menotti went a long way back. The Old Maid and the Thief had been a commission from NBC radio, premiering on April 22, 1939 as the first opera ever written for radio.

In 1950 Menotti received another commission from NBC, this time to write a Christmas opera for television. As the deadline drew nearer, Menotti continued to have trouble settling on a subject for the opera. Finally, in November of 1951, as he walked through the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, he saw Hieronymus Bosch’s famous painting “The Adoration of the Kings,” which brought him back memories from his childhood in Italy.

Menotti worked frantically to complete the score which he finished just a few days before the broadcast. The live broadcast was a smashing success. In just a few months, Amahl became a popular Christmas classic, widely performed on stage and television.

Characters and setting

  • Amahl, a crippled boy of about 12 -- boy soprano
  • The Mother -- soprano (or mezzo-soprano)
  • Kaspar, a king, slightly deaf -- tenor
  • Melchior, a king -- baritone
  • Balthazar, a king -- bass
  • The Page -- bass
  • Chorus of Shepherds and Villagers
  • Dancing Shepherds

Place: Near Bethlehem, Judea

Time: Immediately after the birth of Jesus.


On their way to Bethlehem, the three Kings stop at the house of a poor crippled boy and his widowed mother.


Musical score

First published in New York, NY: G. Schirmer, 1952.


First published in New Yok, NY: G. Schirmer, 1952.

Translations of the libretto

Literary adaptations of the libretto (children's books)

Video recordings (selected)

Sound recordings (selected)

Performance History (selected)

  • TV premiere: New York, NBC (National Broadcasting Company), 24 December 1951.
  • Stage premiere: Bloomington, IN: Indiana University, 21 February 1952.


After its television premiere in 1951, the opera was regularly broadcast on American (and British) television on Christmas time, every year until 1965. It continues to be widely performed, more than 3000 times since then according to a likely estimate, especially in the United States, England, South America and Germany, in professional and semi-professional productions, in major theaters as well as in local schools and churches.





The company Piccolo Teatro dell'Opera produced Amahl annually, from 1984 to 1996. Of the last performance in 1996 there is a video on YouTube.





Lancaster, Covenant UMC Director John Darrenkamp Sets Nels Marti Costumes Mercedes Macarino Choreographer Cynthia Neh Chorus master Cynthia Reed

Amahl Philip Norris The Mother Kirsten C Kunkle King Kaspar Cristyan Seay King Melchior Ben Williams King Balthazar Garrett Obrycki The Page Moses Mariscal On tour to: Ware Center, Lancaster: 12 Dec 2014


  • A detailed survey of the Performance History of the opera is given in Donald L. Hixon, Gian Carlo Menotti: A Bio-Bibliography, pp.55ff.

External links