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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 9:30 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:58:05
  • COLOR/B&W: B&W
  • CATALOG ID: T:62883
  • GENRE: Music; Specials
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Operas; Bible Stories; Christmas
  • SERIES RUN: NBC - TV series, 1951-1978
    • TV - Commercials - Hallmark greeting cards


  • Samuel Chotzinoff … Producer
  • Kirk Browning … Director
  • Gian Carlo Menotti … Music by
  • John Butler … Choreographer
  • Thomas Schippers … Conductor
  • Columbus Boychoir … Choir/Chorus
  • Nelson Case … Host
  • Chet Allen … Cast, Amahl
  • Rosemary Kuhlmann … Cast, the Mother
  • Andrew McKinley … Cast, King Caspar
  • David Aiken … Cast, King Melchior
  • Leon Lishner … Cast, King Balthazar
  • Francis Monachino … Cast, the Page
  • Melissa Hayden … Cast, Dancer
  • Nicholas Magallanes … Cast, Dancer
  • Glen Tetley … Cast, Dancer
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