ON NOVEMBER 18, NAXOS' AMERICAN OPERA CLASSICS RELEASES GIAN CARLO MENOTTI'S BELOVED CHRISTMAS CLASSIC, "AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS"
Conducted by Alastair Willis, this recording features the Nashville Symphony and members of the Nashville Symphony Chorus and Chicago Symphony Chorus
On November 18, Naxos releases Gian Carlo Menotti's beloved 1951 Christmas classic "Amahl and the Night Visitors", paired with "My Christmas"(1987), a short choral work with a libretto by the composer. This recording features the Nashville Symphony, led by Alastair Willis; members of the Nashville Symphony and Chicago Symphony choruses, led by directors George Mabry and Duain Wolfe; and soloists Ike Hawkersmith (Amahl), Kirsten Gunlogson (Mother), Dean Anthony (King Kaspar), Todd Thomas (King Melchior), Kevin Short (King Balthazar) and Bart LeFan (Page to the Kings). This recording marks the third in two months featuring the Nashville Symphony; the other releases are Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" and John Corigliano's "A Dylan Thomas Trilogy".
Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors", the first opera written for television, enjoys over 500 performances annually around the world and is immensely popular with amateur groups. A disabled boy, Amahl, and his mother encounter the three Kings who seek the newborn Jesus. After deciding to give his crutch to the Christ Child, Amahl is miraculously healed, and he joyfully accompanies the Magi to Bethlehem to give thanks. Sung in English, the opera is a humorous and poignant Christmas classic, beloved by audiences of all ages.
No post-war opera has enjoyed exposure comparable to "Amahl and the Night Visitors", commissioned by NBC and first televised on Christmas Eve in 1951. Although it was subsequently staged at Bloomington in February 1952, conducted by Thomas Schippers, with whom Minotti enjoyed a long working relationship, the opera's television potential has been explored in a number of subsequent presentations. Between 1951 and 1966, it was shown each year on NBC on or around Christmas Eve. In 1963, it was remade by NBC with an all-new cast, a production show for the next three years. Then, in 1978, NBC filmed another new production, partly on location in the Holy Land. Meanwhile, the BBC commissioned two versions of its own, the first broadcast in December 1955, with the second following four years later. Menotti himself directed another filmed version as late as 1996. All of these productions attest to the appeal that Menotti's unassuming stage work has exerted over audiences for almost six decades.
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