Amahl & the Night Visitors-Com Import
Back in the days when the forces that controlled television actually cared about art, it was perfectly normal to see original plays and live musical performances right in your living room. In 1950, Menotti was commissioned to write an opera for television, and on Christmas Eve, 1951, Amahl and the Night Visitors was performed by the NBC Television Theater. This recording, under the composer's personal direction, was made a few days later, and it remains the definitive version, even though the sound is very dated and rough in places. This story of a poor shepherd boy's encounter with three kings and the miraculous healing of his crippled leg when he offers his crutch as a gift has captured audiences around the world ever since its premiere. Its charming mix of tuneful melody, dancing rhythms, delightful choruses, humor and poignancy, and an English text makes this work immediately accessible to audiences of all ages and musical tastes. --David Vernier
I couldn't quite give this recording any higher rating than four stars though, due to the reproductive quality of the old mono sound. But I would still recommend it for the most part. Probably not the program I grew up on, since this is the original from the very early 50s; I was born in 1955. But the power of this story and the superb music written as an opera, probably the best ever composed for television, will delight anyone familiar with this work. And I'm sure many others will be won over as new listeners.
There are said to be many local stage productions of this classic annually, but I've only had the pleasure of seeing it once live on stage, and that was the early 70s, put on by my high school drama and music departments. There was even a newer production shot in Israel in the late 70s, but I didn't enjoy that much higher budgeted effort anywhere near as much as the earlier version I remember, or this recording from the original cast done back in 1952. The newer version just didn't have the same emotion or magic. So much for location scenery.
At this time, I await with great anticipation, the black-and-white DVD offered here on Amazon that I recently ordered. They also offer the newer 70s version, but I wasn't interested. Be forewarned though, the very dramatic ending will bring many to tears, especially from "All That Gold" to "Oh, Woman, You Can Keep The Gold." A television classic.