Monday, March 1, 2010

Resources for Children: Opera

"I adore art...when I am alone with my notes, my heart pounds and the tears stream from my eyes, and my emotion and my joys are too much to bear." -Giuseppe Verdi

I love opera--the beauty, the emotion, the blending of words and music, the set and costumes.  I wish it didn't seem so unapproachable, or stuffy, or whatever it is that people think about opera.  Get to know it a little bit and you'll find stories and beautiful melodies--how can you go wrong with that?  True, there's often a lot of death, and realism is not always high priority.  You can end up with a diva singing an amazingly beautiful and difficult aria while she is supposedly drawing her last tuberculosis-wracked breaths.  But honestly, how many times have you found yourself watching an action movie and wishing everybody would just die so the car chase/fight with the alien/gun battle would end?  (Or maybe that's just me.)  Opera is definitely its own thing.  But it's worth looking into and introducing your children to (just preview the stories, because they're not all rated "G").  Here are a few books to get you started:

AidaAïda told by Leontyne Price, illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon

The Barefoot Book of Stories from the Opera (Barefoot Beginners)The Barefoot Book of Opera Storiesby Sharukh Husain, illustrated by James Mayhew

Bravo! Brava! A Night at the Opera: Behind the Scenes with Composers, Cast, and CrewBravo! Brava! A Night at the Opera: Behind the Scenes with Composers, Cast and Crew by Anne Siberell, introduction by Frederica von Stade

BrundibarBrundibar retold by Tony Kushner after the opera by Hans Krása and Adolf Hoffmeister, pictures by Maurice Sendak

The Dog Who Sang at the OperaThe Dog Who Sang at the Opera by Jim West & Marshall Izen, illustrated by Erika Oller

The Great PoochiniThe Great Poochini by Gary Clement

The Magic FluteThe Magic Flute adapted by Anne Gatti, illustrated by Peter Malone

Opera CatOpera Cat by Tess Weaver, illustrated by Andrea Wesson

Encore, Opera Cat! Encore, Opera Cat! by Tess Weaver, illustrated by Andrea Wesson

The Random House Book of Opera Stories (Random House Book of...)The Random House Book of Opera Stories retold by Adèle Geras

Sing Me a Story: The Metropolitan Opera's Book of Opera Stories for ChildrenSing Me a Story: The Metropolitan Opera’s Book of Opera Stories for Children by Jane Rosenberg, introduction by Luciano Pavarotti

A Soup OperaA Soup Opera by Jim Gill, illustrated by David Moose
When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian AndersonWhen Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson, The Voice of a Century by Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by Brian


  1. OK, I need to expose my children to this venue. Are these books available at the library? We LOVE musicals, but have never watched a real opera (Phantom doesn't count, right?! LOL)

  2. Some but not all of these are at our local library. I use the university library, also. For everything that isn't on the shelves, I use interlibrary loan. I haven't checked the policies for interlibrary loan with our county library, because I go through the university system, but I think they've recently changed their policies to increase accessibility.

  3. Brad has been mentioning opera lately. Maybe it's time to do a little unit study =)

  4. Just found a great unit on opera for younger children at


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