Opera Idaho presents "Amahl and the Night Visitors"

The Egyptian Theatre

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In a Nutshell

The Biblical story of Christmas comes alive through the eyes of an impoverished shepherd boy during an opera penned by a Pulitzer winner

The Fine Print

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The Deal

Amahl and the Night Visitors

Pulitzer-winning composer and librettist Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera pans to the periphery of the Biblical story of Christmas. Amahl, a shepherd boy kept apart from the flock by a bad leg and his family’s poverty, has a reputation for telling tall tales. It’s no surprise, then, when his mother doesn’t believe he’s seen an enormous new star over their roof or that families will one day celebrate the season by putting large trees inside their homes. The arrival of three resplendently dressed kings, bearing treasure and looking for a place to rest, prove that Amahl has been telling the truth while opening up tantalizing new opportunities for the boy and his mother.

Written on commission for NBC, the opera was the first composed specifically for American television, and it aired for years as a Christmas tradition. Menotti’s compositions eschewed the avant-garde sensibilities of the early 20th century, paying tribute instead to “the nobility of gracefulness and the pleasure of sweetness,” as he told the New York Times. His philosophy of accessible lyricism is evident in Amahl, with gently flowing passages interspersed with lively, hummable tunes and a midshow shepherd’s dance.

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