The story concerns Amahl, a poor crippled boy who lives with his mother, as they are visited by the three kings on the night of Jesus' birth. Amahl has a habit of lying, and his mother initially does not believe him when he talks about the unusual star he sees. When she sees the riches that the kings have and intend to give to the infant Jesus, she attempts to steal the gold. King Melchior, however, forgives her when he sees Amahl defend her.
This work contains examples of:
- Away in a Manger: The three kings are on their way there, of course, but we don't see it in the story.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Amahl can be implied to be this.
- Cassandra Truth: Mother doesn't believe Amahl when he talks about the star, nor about the kings, until she sees them herself. She has a pretty good justification, though, as she rattles off his track record of lying.
- Christmas Miracle: Amahl can walk again.
- Christmas Special: Well, duh.
- Collector of the Strange: Kaspar has a special box of magic charms, beads, and licorice— "Have some!"
- Crying Wolf: Amahl's mother thinks he is doing this when Amahl tells her that one, two, or finally three kings are at the door.
- Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off: Amahl's mother threatens to spank him for lying when he says there are three kings at the door.
- I Can't Hear You: Kaspar's a bit deaf and Amahl has to repeat things for him.
- Rule of Three: Three kings, three gifts, you know the drill.
- Scary Black Man: The Page. Also sung by a bass, to make him more scary.
- Spiritual Successor: Since "Amahl" is only about an hour long, American composer David Conte wrote an operatic setting of "The Gift of the Magi'' for the same size orchestra, intending it as a companion piece to fill out the other half of a double bill.
- Star of Bethlehem: Spotted by Amahl, as well as by the three kings.
- Throwing Off the Disability
- The Three Wise Men: That being the titular Night Visitors.
- True Meaning of Christmas: The Three Wise Men are journeying to bring gifts to the baby Jesus. Amahl offers to give his crutch, which is his only possession to give. This leads to his miraculous healing.