Note: The opera is in a single, continuous act without scene breaks or musical separations. In parentheses are cues to aid in lining up the story with the libretto.
The scene opens on a shepherd’s hut, where a young boy, Amahl, is sitting just outside playing a pipe. His crutch, without which the disabled boy is unable to walk, lies on the ground next to him. Inside, his mother works at household chores by a dim fire. She calls him inside to bed, and he finally and reluctantly obeys (“Amahl! Amahl!”). He comes inside and tells his mother that he wanted to stay outside to see the star that is shining above their house toward the east--”as large as a window, and the star has a tail, and it moves across the sky like a chariot on fire.” His mother doesn’t believe him, shrugging it off as another of the boy’s famously tall tales (“O Mother You Should Go Outside; Stop Bothering Me!”). She clasps him in her arms and begins to weep, thinking of what might become of the two of them--she