[Amahl and the Night Visitors]

[Amahl and the Night Visitors]

[Amahl and the Night Visitors]

Notes about Amahl
Tom Pedas, Director

[Tom Pedas] The tender, heartwarming story of Amahl and the Night Visitors, is one of the most popular of American operas. It is performed internationally every Christmas season and remains one of the most frequently performed operas of the 20th century.

Expressly written for television it premiered on NBC on Christmas Eve, 1951 and was repeated thereafter for sixteen Christmas seasons.

As a young boy growing up in Western Pennsylvania it became an annual tradition for me to view this magical musical production featuring the poor crippled shepherd boy, his devoted mother and the knock on the door which changed their lives forever.

Amahl and the Night Visitors was written by the Italian composer Gian Carlo Menotti who as a young boy became lame. The doctors had no cure for him. He was taken to be blessed at the holy Sanctuary of Sacro Monte and thereafter, miraculously, the young Menotti was cured of lameness.

In 1951 when NBC commissioned the 40 year old Menotti to write a Christmas opera he could not come up with a subject. He despaired until one day, while strolling through the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, he chanced upon and was inspired by the famous painting “The Adoration of the Magi.” The idea of the Night Visitors was born and in less than two months Menotti finished the score. He wrote into it some of the magical sounds he remembered from his youth during St. Nicholas's festive visits to his mountain village in Italy where he was born.

Only an hour in length the one act opera “Amahl” with its beautiful score and touching libretto (the opera is sung in English) is appealing to all ages and musical backgrounds. It was written specifically for young imaginations which can easily relate to a child with a head full of dreams. It remains an inspiring story of how faith, charity, unselfish love and good deeds can work miracles.

I have, since my youth, treasured this timeless opera of the shepherd boy, his destitute mother and the visit from the star-guided Wise Men. I remain grateful to the Board of Directors of the Celebration Singers for their support when I suggested we undertake this ambitious production.

Tom Pedas
Music Director
The Celebration Singers and
The Celebration Singers Children's Chorus

[Amahl describes Bright Star]

The story of “ Amahl and the Night Visitors” centers around Amahl, a poor crippled shepherd boy living with his widowed mother. While playing his shepherd's pipe Amahl sees a bright star and tries to convince his mother of the bright object above their hut. “Oh, Mother, you should go out and see! …Hanging over our roof there is a star as large as a window, and the star has a tail…” His mother, used to his habitual lying, grows angry and refuses to believe him. She complains that he is always making up stories,“What shall I do with this boy?”

[Kings arrival]

That night a knock on the door awakens Amahl and his mother. The shepherd boy opens the door to find three magnificently clad Kings and their Page. The night visitors are the three Kings of antiquity who are following a star to Bethlehem where they heard of the birth of a King. They ask, “May we rest a while in your house and warm ourselves by your fireplace?” Amahl is sent by his mother to wake up the other shepherds in the area, “ Ask them to bring whatever they have in the house, as we have nothing to offer them.”

[3 Kings and the Page]
King Melchior, King Kaspar and King Balthazar sing about the Child they are seeking, “Have you seen a Child the color of wheat, the color of dawn? “…Incense, myrrh, and gold we bring to His side, and the Eastern Star is our guide… ” When the impoverished mother realizes the expensive gifts are destined for an unknown newborn babe she becomes bitter and jealous. She cannot understand why at least some of these gifts could not be given to her own poor and lame child. The Page, servant to the three Kings, is in attendance.

Go to Page 2 of Amahl

[Amahl Program]
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  • News articles relating to our Amahl and the Night Visitors concerts

    [Kings Procession]
    Musical and Stage Director: Tom Pedas
    Assistant Musical Director: Omar Gardner
    Piano Accompanist: Conrad Erdt
    Choreographer: Barbara-Jude Greco
    Set Design: Rick Marsden
    Scenic Artists: Judy Turner,Ellen Pease
    Costume Design: Cindy Lahiff
    Production Coordinator: Eugene Kobliska
    Lighting: Eugene Kobliska, Rick Marsden
    Set Construction: Bill Ahern, Dennis Jenkins,
    Eugene Kobliska, Rick Marsden
    Props Carmen Marinaro, Paul Sadowski, Manny Gonzalez, Maria Singer, Heather Crawford and Jeanne Woerner

    Music Staff

    President: Rick Marsden
    Vice President: Dora Carbone
    Treasurer: Ray D'Amato
    Secretary: Judy Hailey
    Vice President/Concert Staging: Eugene Kobliska
    Vice President/Concert Appearances: Carmelyn Marinaro
    Vice President/Publicity: Jane Ryan
    Assistant to the President: Cheryl Wallace
    Grants: Dennis Jenkins

    Funding has been made in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Department of State, through a grant administered by the Union County Division of Cultural and Heritage Affairs.

    This program is also made possible in part by a 1999 Heart Grant from the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders

    This production of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” was presented through a special arrangement with G. Shirmer, Chester, NY

    Tom Pedas, The Celebration Singers and Children's Chorus



    e-mail Tom Pedas tpedas@aol.com