Amahl and the Night Visitors and Evensong (sung Evening Prayer) will be presented at St. John the Evangelist on Sunday afternoon, February 16, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend this special music presentation telling of the Wise Men’s journey following a star with music by Gian-Carlo Menotti.
Amahl and the Night Visitors is an opera in one act by Gian Carlo Menotti, with an original English libretto by the composer. It was first performed by the NBC Opera Theatre on December 24, 1951, in New York City at NBC studio 8H in Rockefeller Center, the studio from which it was broadcast live on television as the debut production of the Hallmark Hall of Fame. It was the first opera specifically composed for television in America.
Menotti was commissioned by Peter Herman Adler, director of NBC’s new opera programming, to write the first opera for television. The composer had trouble settling on a subject for the opera, but took his inspiration from Hieronymus Bosch‘s The Adoration of the Magi hanging in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. As the airdate neared, Menotti had yet to finish the score. The singers had little time to rehearse, and received the final passages of the score just days before the broadcast. After the dress rehearsal, NBC Symphony conductor Arturo Toscanini told Menotti, “This is the best you’ve ever done.”