A Year-Round Epiphany Celebration with Amahl and the Night Visitors

Every  January 6th-Three King’s Day (Epiphany), when we were growing up, the music from the opera Amahl and the Night Visitors  was broadcast at the painfully loud end of the decibel scale. My sister Kate had introduced us to the opera by borrowing the recording from her 4th grade teacher. In one weekend, we almost melted down the vinyl grooves on the record.

Amahl and the Night Visitors is a one-act opera about a visit from the Three Kings -Balthazar, Kaspar, and Melchior- who take shelter in a young cripple’s (Amahl’s) home as they follow the star of Bethlehem.

The  music and lyrics were written by Gian Carlo Menotti as the first opera composed for television in America. It was produced live on December 24, 1951, as part of the Hallmark Hall of Fame.

We loved the music, but we did not see the performance (available on YouTube below) until years later.

A favorite scene in the opera was the entrance of the local shepherds.  At minute 29:32 in the video, the shepherds call to Amahl’s mother;  she is waiting for them to bring foods for the kings.

The shepherd’s entrance shows they are initially terrified at the sight of the foreigners. After a few minutes, however, they  warm up and perform a energetic peasant dance.

We loved listening to them list the exotic treats they brought and placed at the foot of the Kings::

Shepherds: Olives and quinces, apples and raisins, nutmeg and myrtle, medlars and chestnuts, this is all we shepherds can offer you.

Kings: Thank you, thank you, thank you kindly, too.

S: Citrons and lemons, musk and pomegranates, goat cheese and walnut, figs and cucumbers, this is all we shepherds can offer you.

Kings: Thank you, thank you, thank you kindly. Thank you, thank you, thank you kindly, too.

S: Hazelnuts and chamomile, mignonettes and laurel, honeycombs and cinnamon, thyme mint and garlic, this is all we shepherds can offer you.

Kings: Thank you, thank you, thank you kindly. Thank you, thank you, thank you kindly, too.

S: Take them, eat them, you are welcome. Take them eat them, you are welcome, too!

Thank you, thank you, Gian Carlo Menotti, for the Three King’s Day celebration opera that can be enjoyed any day of the year.

 

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