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Amahl & The Night Visitors by Gian Carlo Menotti & Kiri Te Kanawa At Christmas

The most frequently performed opera in history, Gian Carlo Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors introduces a widowed shepherd woman and her crippled son Amahl, who are out of food, wood for the fire, and oil for their lamp, and will have to go begging the next day. Suddenly, the Three Kings, who are following a star to Bethelehem, arrive at their cottage needing a place to stay for the night. Though Amahl (Robert Sapolsky) is delighted by the excitement, his mother is in a state of extreme stress. Unless she gets help, she and Amahl may starve. In a powerful duet, King Melchior (Giorgio Tozzi) describes the child to whom they plan to give all their gifts, while the agonized mother (Teresa Stratas) sings about her own child, just as worthy and perhaps more needy. In the ensuing scenes, the first Christmas miracle occurs.

For someone unfamiliar with the story, this video beautifully captures the dynamics of the opera--the emotional tensions, the gap between the poor and the very rich, and the social milieu into which the Christ Child was born. The protectiveness of the mother, the enthusiasm of Amahl (a child who is constantly excited by life), and the lives of the shepherds are clearly portrayed. The problems with the video are a result of its age. The colors have faded, the voices are fuzzy, the sound quality, after thirty years, lacks the depth which newer recording equipment provides, and in the shepherds' ballet, the choreography does not fit the small screen.

For anyone who knows the opera or who may have access to the libretto, however, these are problems which are more than outweighed by the sheer drama of the live performance.

This program features Kiri Te Kanawa in a live Christmas concert. The evening of music takes place in Barbican Hall in London. The Tallis Chamber Choir joins the opera star in singing Christmas favorites such as {&"Silent Night,"} {&"What Child is This?,"} {&"O Holy Night,"} and {&"Go Tell It on the Mountain."} Their voices are accompanied by the Philharmonia Orchestra, with Carl Davis conducting.

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  • Greg F.

    Great Program!!!

    December 14, 2014

  • Thalia B.

    I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS PRESENTATION.

    November 17, 2014

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