December 05, 1988 12:00 PM

From the wistful opening notes that waft out of Amahl’s wooden pipe, both adults and children will find it hard to resist being drawn into Gian Carlo Menotti’s simple story of a crippled boy living in poverty with his widowed mother. In this Ambrosian Opera Chorus and Philharmonia Orchestra production, Amahl (Robert Sapolsky) and his mother (Teresa Stratas) get into arguments about his daydreaming. But she finds out he isn’t just kidding about those night visitors, who in reality are the three kings stopping to rest on their nativity journey. Originally commissioned by NBC in 1951, the opera has the right formula for the season: humor, pathos, drama and beautiful music. At 52 minutes, this video would make ideal family Christmas viewing. (Home Vision, $29.95; 800-262-8600)

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