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Amahl and the Night Visitors (1954)

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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. See more awards »
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Cast

Credited cast:
Rosemary Kuhlmann ...
Leon Lishner ...
Bill McIver ...
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19 December 1954 (USA)  »

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Hallmark Hall of Fame: Amahl and the Night Visitors: Version IV (#4.16)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Version of Amahl en de nachtelijke bezoekers (1960) See more »

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A truly great early performance of Menotti's best opera
17 November 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

And this is from somebody who admires Gian-Carlo Menotti, his music is simply beautiful(especially in Amahl and the Night Visitors) and you have to love how poetic and vivid his lyrics are. Amahl and the Night Visitors is his best and perhaps most accessible opera with some of the loveliest music of any opera from the 20th century and a deeply touching story that will resonate with anybody. While the 1963 version with Martha King eclipses it- which was uploaded onto Youtube not long ago)- this is a great performance. It does have some inevitable limitations such as some flat sound quality and camera work that is a little too stolid, but because everything else is so good those limitations feel like nothing. The costumes and sets are quite charming and simple if not opulent, never trying for a too-much, too-hard approach, instead allowing the music and story to come through and speak for themselves. Which they do. The orchestra play sensitively and the conducting is nuanced yet allows for the music to come alive as well. The story is for me one of the most poignant of any opera and there is still that Christmas spirit and emotional wallop in the performance. The staging doesn't feel that stage-bound or stilted, instead it is like the production values in wisely taking a simple approach instead of trying to do too much and let the story have its impact. The interaction between Amahl and his mother does bring a tear to the eye as it should, at no point do you question Amahl's devotion for her. The performances are fine. The boys choir ensemble sound great and have the tightness that ensemble work needs, and the three kings are fine, Balthazar is excellent even. Bill McIver is outstanding as Amahl, innocent, curious, charming and boyish with a clear love and care for his mother. Nice voice too. Rosemary Kuhlmann brings great humanity and pathos to the mother and brings great feeling to her music and how she sings the words, she's completely in the zone and never lets go. All in all, truly great and recommended very highly. The 1963 version is even better, and the Teresa Stratas version is very good too though the VHS/DVD really doesn't do it justice. 10/10 Bethany Cox


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