Amahl and the Night Visitors

Gian Carlo Menotti

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Since its Christmas Eve premiere in 1951, this story has warmed the hearts of audiences around the world. Three Kings, following the star to Bethlehem, stop for shelter at the home of Amahl, a poor, crippled shepherd boy and his widowed mother. Amahl offers his own simple gift to the Wondrous Child and then a miracle happens. Making this production extra special is the casting of Maestro Dala’s son Andreas.

Digital Premiere:

Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 7:30PM


45 minutes

Sung in:

English with English Subtitles



Ms. Martha Lou Henley, C.M.

Alan and Gwendoline Pyatt Foundation

Yoshiko Karasawa


Ms. Martha Lou Henley, C.M.


Ms. Martha Lou Henley, C.M.


Amahl, a boy who walks with a crutch, has a lively imagination. He is sitting outside watching the sky when his mother calls for him (“Amahl! Amahl!”). After much persuasion, he enters the house but his mother does not believe him when he tells her about the amazing star “as big as a window” over their roof (“O Mother You Should Go Out and See”; “Stop Bothering Me!”).

Later that night, Amahl’s mother despairs over her son’s future, knowing that they may have to become beggars. (“Don’t Cry Mother Dear”). After bedtime (“From Far Away We Come”), there is a knock at the door and the mother tells Amahl to go see who it is (“Amahl … Yes Mother!”). He is amazed when he sees three wild and strange-looking men (the Magi). At first the mother does not believe Amahl, but when she goes to the door to see for herself, she is stunned. The Magi tell the mother and Amahl they are on a long journey to give gifts to a wondrous Child and they ask to rest at their house, to which the mother agrees (“Good Evening!”; “Come In!”), saying that all she can offer is “a cold fireplace and a bed of straw”. The mother goes to fetch firewood, and Amahl seizes the opportunity to speak with the Magi.

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Balthazar answers Amahl’s questions about his life as a Magi and asks about Amahl’s life. Amahl responds that he was once a shepherd, but his mother had to sell his sheep. Now, he and his mother will have to go begging. Amahl then talks with Kaspar, who shows Amahl his secret treasures (“Are You A Real King?”; “This is My Box”). The mother returns (“Amahl, I Told You Not To Be A Nuisance!”) and asks Amahl to go fetch the neighbours. Alone with the Magi, she asks them about the gifts they carry, and they tell her of the holy Child. (“All These Beautiful Things”; “Have You Seen a Child?”) Amahl returns with the neighbours as they bring gifts of food so that the Magi can be fed and entertained properly as guests. (“Shepherds! Shepherds!”; “Emily! Emily”; “Olives and Quinces”; “Dance of the Shepherds”).

After the neighbours have left and the Magi are resting, the mother agonizes, imagining how even a little bit of the Magi’s gold could offer a better life for her son (“All That Gold”). Almost against her will, she sneaks over to steal some. She is thwarted by the Magi’s page (“Thief! Thief!”). When Amahl wakes to find the page grabbing his mother, he attacks him (“Don’t You Dare!”). Seeing Amahl’s defense of his mother and understanding the motives for the attempted theft, Melchior says she may keep the gold as the Holy Child will not need earthly power or wealth to build his kingdom (“Oh, Woman, You Can Keep That Gold”). The mother says she has waited all her life for such a king and asks the Magi to take back the gold. She wishes to send a gift but has nothing to send. Amahl, too, has nothing to give the Child except his crutch (“Oh, No, Wait”). Emboldened by his recent outburst he offers his crutch to the Magi and walks without it. (“I Walk, Mother”). His mother, realizing that her son is stronger than she thought, lets him go with the Magi to offer his gift himself. 



Composed by Gian Carlo Menotti
First performed and commissioned by NBC as a live broadcast on Dec 24, 1951.

Gian Carlo Menotti (July 7, 1911-February 1, 2007) was an Italian-American composer and librettist who wrote the classic Christmas opera Amahl and the Night Visitors, along with over two dozen other operas intended to appeal to popular taste. He won a Pulitzer Prize twice, for The Consul (1950) and for The Saint of Bleecker Street (1955) and founded the Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of the Two Worlds) in Spoleto in 1958 and its American counterpart, Spoleto Festival USA, in 1977.


Cast & Creative

Sarah Jane Pelzer


Leslie Dala

Music Director + Piano

Andreas Dala


Stephanie Tritchew


Sergio Augusto


Jason Cook


Michael MacKinnon


Henry Chen


Karen Ydenberg


Heather Molloy


Tristan Chalcraft


Angus Bell


Tina Chang


Patrick Rizzotti

Set and Costume Designer

Jeremy Baxter

Lighting Designer

Alaia Hamer

Associate Costume Designer

Marijka Asbeek Brusse

Stage Manager

Michelle Harison

Assistant Stage Manager

Leah Giselle Field

COVID Safety Officer

House Programme

Amahl and the Night Visitors

Read the digital house programme for Amahl and get to know more about this opera, the cast, creative team and the digital season!

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Meet the Director: An Interview with Sarah Jane Pelzer

Stage Director Sarah Jane Pelzer speaks about Amahl‘s message of family and togetherness, and of the unique challenges of creating opera right now.

Watch Interview

Meet the Music Director: Highlights from the Score with Leslie Dala

Listen to some of the musical highlights from this opera in this video with Leslie Dala, Music Director of Amahl.

Watch Now Watch Extended Version

Pre Show Talk: Behind the Lens on Amahl

After filming wrapped, Pre Show Host Dr. Leah Giselle Field caught up with Director Sarah Jane Pelzer to talk about the creative process before, during and after directing this beautiful piece for Vancouver Opera.

Watch Interview

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