Chapter 17 was about a single performance of Amahl and the Night Visitors in 1980. The opera was written by Gian Carlo Menotti in 1951, and was the dominant holiday TV drama until 1966. Menotti had moved on to produce an enormous quantity of work by that time. He was the predominant opera composer of the era. I was amazed when I read of all he accomplished HERE. I also looked up the boy soprano, Phillip (not his real name, to protect his privacy), and he is an amazingly prolific violinist and composer.
The era in which Amahl was televised was a gentler and more reverent time than today. It is interesting to consider how our culture changed, and what replaced Amahl as the principal holiday TV drama. In December, 1965, the year before Amahl was last televised, A Charlie Brown Christmas premiered. I think it has been the most-watched holiday TV program ever since. In my opinion, the theme of A Charlie Brown Christmas is that only a minority of Euro-American suburban children regret the commercialization of Christmas. The rest can be at least temporarily convinced to regret it, as well. It is ironic that the music score by Vince Guaraldi is played every year in almost every store.