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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Oldie,but a goodie!
Christmastime and watching the HallMark Hall of Fame production of Amahl were never a separate thing for us when we grew up... Imagine a time when real art was on TV? When quality was paramount? There was a time,and we waited for it like waiting for Santa: First came Amahl on Christmas Eve,then we went to bed trying very hard to hear whether or not we,too would be able...
Published on November 6, 2000

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28 of 38 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Old mono sound no longer pleases
This used to be the only choice of recording for this enchanting children's masterpiece and I enjoyed listening to it for years. However, this old mono recording has been surpassed by a much superior new recording made by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in a production directed by the composer himself, Gian Carlo Menotti. If you want the best recording of Amahl,...
Published on October 13, 2002


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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Oldie,but a goodie!, November 6, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors (Audio CD)
Christmastime and watching the HallMark Hall of Fame production of Amahl were never a separate thing for us when we grew up... Imagine a time when real art was on TV? When quality was paramount? There was a time,and we waited for it like waiting for Santa: First came Amahl on Christmas Eve,then we went to bed trying very hard to hear whether or not we,too would be able to hear the 3 kings in the distance....... I own both this recording,and the new one that came out a couple of years ago by the gang at the Royal Opera. While the most recent recording may be technically a better recording, for me there will never be another person singing that mother's part except for that lady on the live recording....her voice is so light,yet strong. Perhaps what someone trying to scrape by on nothing would have to be. I love the first recording, and I like it even better digitally remastered. It's never going to sound as "perfect" as the newer digital one,but that's probably one of its most endearing qualities. None of live music is ever completely perfect.Like humanity. The newer one sounds too much like a recital: Too perfect(for me). This one,for me was spontaneous,like life: Full of real emotion. Spend the money,go for it...you won't be sorry. Allow yourself to believe,just as that little boy believed........and if you have a chance, go in person to one of the many performances presented this christmas in your area. You'll appreciate this live recording even more. You won't be sorry.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By far the best, November 11, 2001
By 
Amy Anich (Evanston, Illinois United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors (Audio CD)
This is the only recording of Amahl & the Night Visitors worth having. As other reviewers have stated, there are other recordings with more technical clarity, but absolutely no other compares to the purity, warmth, and feeling present in this original cast production. I am not an opera fan but have loved "Amahl" since childhood - it brings tears to my eyes every year. Give it a try!
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN OLD FRIEND, December 28, 2001
By 
MOVIE MAVEN (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors (Audio CD)
How wonderful to re-visit an old friend after many years and find that he or she has not only survived, but has grown more interesting and beautiful with time. This is exactly how I feel about Gian Carlo Menotti's lovely opera AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS.
As a child, I not only watched it on television, but saw it on the stage in various venues, including Hunter College, even as recently as about one dozen years ago when a friend played Amahl's mother in a semi-staged concert version in New York's Avery Fisher Hall.
Written originally as an opera for children, it certainly also speaks to adults. As to why children, even children who are totally uninterested in opera, appreciate AMAHL..., it is pretty easy to figure out that no character in the opera ever sings just for the sake of singing. All of the music comes naturally out of the simple characters, so that the beautiful music can be listened to without thinking that the characters are "putting on airs" or "showing off their vocal skills." The libretto, also, is simplicity itself: all of the words seem totally fitting for the five characters: a mother, her crippled son and their three royal visitors. Even the dance music does not overstay its welcome. One wishes that other opera composers would take a lesson from Menotti: say what you want to say and don't repeat it ad infinitum.
This "original cast" 1952 recording can be enjoyed thoroughly even though the sound is not as sharp as a newer recording might have. The entire cast is terrific and Chet Allen as "Amahl" is completely believable, sweet and absolutely touching when he asks his mother if he may visit Christ in the manger. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR BOTH ADULTS AND CHILDREN.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Amahl and the Night Visitors" defines Christmas., November 18, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors (Audio CD)
"Amahl and the Night Visitors" truly defines the Christmas season and provides families with a wonderful lesson in self-lessness,adoration, praise and grace. This piece is less than one hour long and is sung in English. The original 1950 cast recording lacks today's technological prowess but the voices are delightful and easily understood. The libretto included in the CD also relates the story, so little is lost. Menotti's wonderful score tugs at your heart and lifts your spirits. Toddlers on up can join the family and enjoy this lovely tale of Amahl the poor crippled shepherd boy, his mother,their shepherd friends, the 3 larger-than-life kings (my favorite is Kaspar), the page, and realization that life is about giving to others unselfishly. "Amahl" will become a highly treasured volume in your CD collection.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Exceptional Insight into Christmas Giving and Healing, January 16, 2000
By 
Theodore G. Mihran (Schenectady, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors (Audio CD)
This opera by Menotti used to be a staple every Christmas after it was introduced on NBC TV in 1950. Sadly, it has disappeared from the TV scene, in spite of the hundreds of cable channels that could carry this thought-provoking opera. A sign of the times, perhaps.
In this opera Menotti presents a most compelling image of what Christmas giving is all about. In an impulsive act of love for the Christ child, Amahl offers the only possession he has--his crutch--as a gift to be taken by the wise men to the Child. "...He may need it," Amahl says, almost wistfully. Then the miracle happens... Not because he has beseeched, not because he has prayed, but because he has gone outside of himself and thought of the needs of others.
It is a magical insight; few such insights come to us in even a lifetime of living. And Menotti perceived it, and conceived a way of bringing it to our attention in this timeless opera, for which I will be ever grateful.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first "Amahl" and the best, November 13, 2005
By 
L. E. Cantrell (Vancouver, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors (Audio CD)
Source: Studio recording made with the original cast on January 4 and 10, 1952.

Sound: Fairly good analog mono. It is my impression that the digital re-mastering yields a more mellow tone than that on my long-lost Lp version. At any rate, while the sound is definitely historical, it is perfectly acceptable, if heard with just a little good will.

Documentation: One-page plot summary. Track list with timings. Libretto in English.

Format: Single disk with 27 tracks, five of which are under a minute in length.

Cast: Amahl - Chet Allen; Mother - Rosemary Kuhlmann; King Kaspar - Andrew McKinley; King Melchior - David Aiken; King Balthazar - Leon Leshner; Page - Frank Monachino. Conductor - Thomas Schippers. Chorus and orchestra were skilled New York session performers associated with the NBC Television Theater.

I watched the first broadcast of this opera in glorious black-and-white on our brand new, 14-inch, RCA television set. It was Christmas Eve, 1951. I was not quite nine years old. My parents were there, dutifully attentive to officially-approved Culture, but obviously bored. I was enthralled--even though I thought the boy playing Amahl to be one of the most obnoxious creatures I had ever observed. I watched every repeat showing for years afterward.

Fourteen years later, I was in San Francisco on leave from the army. I ran into a friend who was a director. "We're doing six performances of 'Amahl,'" she said. "We desperately need another tenor in the chorus. Dress rehearsal is tonight. We open with a matinee tomorrow. Here's the score. Learn it." I did, sort of, although I never could get Menotti's grocery lists quite right: "Citrons and lemons, / musk and pomegranates, / goat cheese and walnuts, / figs and cucumbers, / this is all we shepherds can offer you." Yeah, I'd get that and all its variants out while trying not to trip over my sandals, stuffed lamb and shepherd's crook, sure.

Thirty-six years after that, while waiting for the start of "Die Meistersinger" at the San Francisco Opera, I struck up a conversation with the lady sitting next to me. It turned out that she had played the Mother in the production into which I had parachuted. Neither one of us could quite remember the other.

"Amahl" is no great opera. Compared to "Don Giovanni" or even "The Pearl Fishers," it is puny and pallid. But beside some of the bottom-feeders on the operatic B- and C-lists, "Lakme" or "Fedora," say, it's a masterpiece! Over the decades, man and boy, I've been exposed to many productions of "Amahl," but this is the one that sticks in my mind. I have heard other, crisper recordings but never a better performance. I cannot conceive of buying any other sound-only version. The singers are not the greatest but they are good. Unlike all their successors, they offer the indefinable sense that they are present at the emergence of a new-born wonder.

Five stars.

(I still don't much care for the kid who sings Amahl, though.)
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully enjoyable, February 16, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors (Audio CD)
I have always loved this work, and when ever it is performed where I live, I enjoy going to see it. Menotti really understood how to make English opera sing. This recording is truly exciting, and it is very touching when the wisemen finally appear. My only complaint is the diction, particularly of the mother. There are times her singing resembles nothing more than shouting and screaming. The tone, or quality, of her voice is fine, very lovely in fact, but her words are lost in the torrent of sound. Her character is much like the character of the mother in Hansel and Gretal, and reflecting much of the same feelings. Menotti wrote music that was very excellent in providing these feelings, but with them is required the ability to understand what the woman is stressing over. Sadly, her diction was not good. It is interesting to use children in opera, and very few composers have done it well (aside from a children's chorus). Menotti is super at knowing when to tone things down so a child's sound can be heard. The other composer who works well with children is Brittan. Though the music written for Amahl is simple, best suited for a child, it is very touching. This is truly a wonderful recording of this wonderful work. Sadly, it is not seen as often anymore as it once was, while having Hansel and Gretel as the perennial Christmas treat is still going strong and well all over the place. This is an opera written for Christmas, and it is sad that it is overshadowed by one of fantasy. For those who have never experienced American opera, this is the first choice, in my view, when approaching it. You won't be disappointed. The work is short, and it is touching in a very "Dickensian" way.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much anticipation..., September 19, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors (Audio CD)
I am so EXCITED to find this this wonderful soundtrack that instilled my love for opera and the excitement created in full orchestra. Even as a young girl I would ask every Christmas for my own copy. I grew up on Amahl and the Night Visitors and I cannot BELIEVE I found it. I am so excited to own my copy of this wonderful opera. Someday I hope to see it on stage as well. Just downloading the clips brought tears to my eyes.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a voice teacher and early music fan, October 21, 2007
This review is from: Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors (Audio CD)
VIBRANT VOICES-WHIMSICAL WOODWINDS-TUNEFUL MELODIES AND A MIRACLE TOO!!!

From the first reedy sound of the oboe mimicking the shepherd pipes to the first vocal notes by Rosemary Kuhlman (Amahl's mother) calling for Amahl to come inside, to Amahl's crystal clear boy soprano (Chet Allen)response, we are drawn into the musical story of a little crippled boy and his own personal miracle.

If no one had heard of Gian Carol Menotti prior to this work, as of Christmas Eve, 1951, most of the country became aware of him. He had, in fact written several successful operas before this one, but the medium of television really was a great boost to the success of Amahl.

I have mentioned already the two main leads, but the other four singers fulfilled their specific roles in a very skillful manner. I particularly liked the voice of Andrew McKinley, tenor, who really projected the part of a rather silly and far-out slightly deaf Kaspar wonderfully well! The Chorus of Shepherds and Villagers sang the very attractive choral music in an up-beat manner and the Orchestra handled the accompaniment, which for the woodwinds was rather difficult, perfecto! While Menotti supervised all of the proceedings, Thomas Schippers pulled it all gloriously together. This is a landmark recording, and certainly a collectible.
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28 of 38 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Old mono sound no longer pleases, October 13, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors (Audio CD)
This used to be the only choice of recording for this enchanting children's masterpiece and I enjoyed listening to it for years. However, this old mono recording has been surpassed by a much superior new recording made by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in a production directed by the composer himself, Gian Carlo Menotti. If you want the best recording of Amahl, get the other one. This is old recording is good, but the newer recording is much better.
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Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors
Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors by Gian Carlo Menotti (Audio CD - 1990)
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