Amahl and the Night Visitors (Roger Duvoisin)

Gian Carlo Menotti's Amahl and the Night VisitorsA narrative adaptation by Frances Frost, preserving the exact dialogue of the opera, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin. McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1952.

Happy Epiphany, dear readers!  The day the Wise Men arrived with their gifts.  As a treat for you today, I thought I'd share some illustrations from this book, a literary adaptation of the opera Amahl and the Night Visitors.  When I was a kid in elementary school, my music teacher would always play us selections from the opera, after passing out Xeroxed papers explaining the opera's history and plot. It was one of two operas she always covered, the other being Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel.  (We would usually get a field trip to see a Wichita State production of Help! Help! The Globolinks!, also by Gian Carlo Menotti.)  Amahl and the Night Visitors was the first opera ever composed for television broadcast. It was commissioned by NBC as the debut production of "Hallmark Hall of Fame," in 1951.

If you are unfamiliar with the story, I'll break it down. Amahl is a poor boy, who must use a crutch to walk. He has a habit of telling tall tales. His mother doesn't believe him when he tells her about the giant star in the sky that night. After some tears and bedtime, there is a knock at the door. It is the three Magi, Kaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, looking for a place to rest for the night. After some conversation, Amahl fetches the neighbors to help entertain the kings. Once the neighbors have gone and the kings are asleep, the mother attempts to steal the gold meant for the Christ Child. The kings' page attacks her, which provokes Amahl. King Melchior understands why she tried to steal the gold, however, and tells her to keep it, as the Christ Child will not need the gold, in order to build his kingdom. The mother is moved, and gives back the gold. She wants to send a gift of her own, but has nothing to give, so Amahl offers his only possession: his crutch. His generosity is rewarded with a miracle: he no longer needs his crutch - he can walk!

The book is taken directly from the libretto, but interspersed with tons of color and black-and-white illustrations by Roger Duvoisin, one of my very favorites. Here are a few pictures for you to enjoy!

Opera Kansas performed Amahl and the Night Visitors back on November 30, but between Little Sis's squirminess and the fact that Big Sis had Nutcracker rehearsal every Sunday, it wasn't going to happen this year. I hope that, in a few years, the stars will align and I can take them to see it. I think Little Sis would appreciate the music (classical is still her favorite) and Big Sis would appreciate the theatricality.

Until then, there's always YouTube!

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