The premiere in this series of special presentations sponsored by Hallmark. "Amahl and the Night Visitors" was the first opera especially commissioned for television when it was televised on December 24, 1951. It is preceded by a brief talk by composer Gian Carlo Menotti, who speaks of the genesis of the opera in his childhood and of the inspiration he drew from viewing Hieronymous Bosch's painting "The Adoration of the Magi." He also introduces director Kirk Browning, conductor Thomas Schippers, and production designer Eugene Berman. Finally, "Amahl" is aired. This Christmas favorite concerns a young crippled boy named Amahl and his mother, who are visited in their home by three weary kings on their way to Bethlehem to witness the birth of the baby Jesus. Amahl and his fellow shepherds treat the kings with great respect, sharing what little food they have with them. Amahl's mother, on the other hand, is caught trying to steal gold from one of the sleeping kings so that she can better provide for her lame son. Although the kings treat her mercifully, it is Amahl who shows the greatest act of kindness. The lame boy offers his crutch as a gift for the newborn son of God. After the opera, the Columbus Boychoir of Princeton, New Jersey, of which star Chet Allen is a member, sings holiday music. Its offerings include "Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella"; "I Saw Three Ships"; and "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming." Includes commercials.

(This program contains minor technical problems. This represents the best copy of this program currently available to the Museum.)

("Hallmark Hall of Fame" was broadcast on NBC from 1952 to 1978; network affiliation varies after 1978.)

(Beginning with the live telecast of the opera "Amahl and the Night Visitors" on December 24, 1951, Hallmark has sponsored a series of dramatic specials which, since 1952, have aired under the title "Hallmark Hall of Fame." From 1952 to 1955 Hallmark also presented "Hallmark Hall of Fame," a weekly half-hour dramatic anthology series hosted by Sarah Churchill. The first broadcast, "Dr. Serocold," was aired in January 1952 under the title "Hallmark Television Theatre." This series also ran under the title "Hallmark Summer Theatre" in July and August 1952.)


  • DATE: December 24, 1951 Monday
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:58:05
  • COLOR/B&W: B&W
  • CATALOG ID: T:62883
  • GENRE: Music
  • SERIES RUN: NBC - TV series, 1951-1978


      Samuel Chotzinoff........ Producer
    • Kirk Browning........ Director
    • Gian Carlo Menotti........ Composer
    • John Butler........ Choreographer
    • Thomas Schippers........ Conductor
    • Douglas Coulter........ Production (Misc.)
    • Columbus Boychoir........ Choir/Chorus
    • Nelson Case........ Host
    • Chet Allen........ Cast
    • Rosemary Kuhlmann........ Cast
    • Andrew McKinley........ Cast
    • David Aiken........ Cast
    • Leon Lishner........ Cast
    • Francis Monachino........ Cast
    • Mellisa Hayden........ Dancer
    • Nicholas Magallanes........ Dancer
    • Glen Tetley........ Dancer
    • Eugene Berman
    • Kirk Browning
    • Gian Carlo Menotti
    • Thomas Schippers
  • It's a beautiful opera. I get misty-eyed every time I watch it--and yes, the final duet between Amahl and his Mother is sheer perfection. My memories of watching it as a child will stay with me forever. 

    Becky, July 19, 2010 at 10:32 pm

  • This short opera Amahl and the Night Visitors contains some of the most beauiful musical passages, especially the duets, that I've ever heard. For anyone who isn't famiiar with it. The words are powerful, as is the story line, even for one who isn't Christian.

    Just wished to find out if there are other people living in this world who loved and are still able to love deeply Menotti's Amahl & the Night Visitors. These productions I heard as a young child (born 5 years only before this first performance.

    Luckily, found two CD's of the opera, this first one being the best, although Menotti claims on the other, made in 1986,  that he likes it very much. The music and porduction is simply magical!

    karele, July 17, 2010 at 6:05 am