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Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors

Ike Hawkersmith , Members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus , Gian Carlo Menotti , Alastair Willis , Chicago Symphony Chorus Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 7.66 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Performer: Ike Hawkersmith, Alastair Willis
  • Orchestra: Chicago Symphony Chorus
  • Conductor: Alastair Willis
  • Composer: Gian Carlo Menotti
  • Audio CD (27 Oct 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B001HBX8XM
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 119,749 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Amahl and the Night Visitors (1951) - Gian Carlo Menotti
2. My Christmas (1987)

Product Description


Only one of Menotti's operas can truly be said to have achieved lasting popularity: ''Amahl and the Night Visitors,'' a brief, modest work created for NBC television and first performed in a live broadcast on Christmas Eve in 1951.... The work's appeal is obvious. Menotti's music is attractive and unfailingly lyrical.'' --The New York Times

Product Description

Amahl and the Night Visitors - My Christmas / Ike Hawkersmith (Amahl), Kirsten Gunlogson (Mother), Dean Anthony (King Kaspar), Todd Thomas (King Melchior)... - Nashville Symphony Orchestra - Alastair Willis & George Mabry, directions

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Christmas treat. 2 Feb 2010
By Kaf88
Format:Audio CD
I first heard extracts from Amahl and the Night Visitors when I was at school in the 70s!. I have had a few versions and this one does not disappoint. The Night Visitors referred to in the title are the Three kings so this makes different music to listen to at Christmas time.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Menotti's child-like opera. 8 Jan 2014
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I have several versions of this opera and this is the best.
It is an ideal complement to the Christmas period.
Fully recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Digital remake with reservations 29 Nov 2008
By Alan Montgomery - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
It still gives me goosebumps. The 1951 RCA recording of Amahl and the Night Visitors - starring Chet Allen, Rosemary Kuhlmann, David Aiken, Andrew McKinley and Leon Lishner, conducted by a young Thomas Schippers - has always been the benchmark for this work. I saw the 1951 premiere of this opera, and most of the broadcasts since then. Even the DVD with almost the same cast as the 1951 (except Amahl) is a little less perfect. The Stratas movie (directed by Menotti) was wonderful, and yet still didn't surpass the recording that is now 57 years old! Don't let the age deter, it is still a must.

But what of the new Naxos release. Well, first of all everyone sings in a more operatic fashion, coming from stage performances that preceded this recording. Kirsten Gunlogson has a rich voice and sings the role of the mother expertly. Her dramatic stance and timbre are similar to Kuhlmann. Her "All that gold" builds to a thrilling climax. She is not quite as smooth as her counterpart, but it is not a troublesome difference, and even Kuhlmann changed her ease with the role as she matured. The three kings are not quite as intimate as on the RCA, but again this is singing for the theater not microphones (even though it is not an "in performance" recording.) Their voices are well dilineated, with highest vocal and diction honors going to Todd Thomas as Melchior. The other two are not far behind. Alastair Willis conducts a performance that, in the musical numbers, is quite similar to Schippers. Only the recitatives are too "lyric" which, in this case means, too sung and not parlando (spoken) enough. Some of them are really just too slow. This recording ticks in at 49 minutes as opposed to RCA 46, and most of that difference is in the recitatives. The large chorus does their job very well. (The recording gives a sound "cover" to the chorus a bit, but not objectionably.)

Why have I left Amahl to last? It seems a shame to pick on young Ike Hawkersmith, because in many ways he does an excellent job. He is musically alert, squarely on pitch, and he has some real ideas about how to get to us with certain lines. "Have you - have you a stone that would cure a crippled boy?" is really sad and plaintive. But all the intelligence and musicallity can't disguise the fact that his voice is rather small and bordering on whiny. There is dramatically good reason for this, but it doesn't work quite as well on disc as it probably did in the theater. This role and Mr. Hawkersmith will make or break the recording for most. I still enjoyed it - but there is still the audible image of Allen, William McIver (in 1955) and Robert Sapolsky to contend with.

The filler, My Christmas by Menotti, is a pleasant choral work. It doesn't excite the Christmas spirit in me as much as the opera does. But it is still a pleasant work, running 12 and a half minutes, and worth having a new recording of.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amahl and the Night Visitors 17 Jan 2010
By Beth Evans - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
An excellent presentation of Menotti's wonderfully engaging opera, which not only highlights the story of the Three Wisemen, but also presents the tenderness of the mother-child bond.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Production and Recording of "Amahl and the Night Visitors." 19 Jan 2009
By Kelly Brighton - Published on
Format:Audio CD
"Amahl & the Night Visitors" is one of Gian Carlo Menotti's most beautiful works. Had it not been a "Christmas Opera," it might be more widely known and performed. This production is wonderfully produced and recorded. I highly recommend it for everyone.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Memory! 22 Jan 2012
By Russell West - Published on
Format:Audio CD
I had this as an LP when I was a kid, and I had forgotten how much fun this work was. The recording is a good version, and it transported me back 55 years. I just wish this version had included the libretto. I am using this work to introduce my 7-year old granddaughter to opera.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Service 23 April 2014
By mary huntington - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This is a difficult to find musical piece. I was so pleased to see it arrive in time for gift giving and in great shape. A great addition to any Christmas library. Thank-you.
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