Backstageby Robert Maiorano and Rachel Isadora, illustrations by Rachel Isadora, Greenwillow Books, 1978
One of the things I love about playing operas and ballets is the atmosphere backstage. There’s so much magic—not just in the performance itself but in all the inner workings, in everything that goes into a performance. My parents often brought my sister and I along with them to performances when we were kids. We went through the stage door with them, followed them as they unpacked their cases, and accompanied them into the orchestra pit. From there somebody would push a chair up to the edge of the pit and help us climb up and out to find our seats. I loved it. The whole backstage experience was as much a part of the show for me as the performance itself.
This little gem of a book is out of print, but it captures so much I just had to share. The writing is spare; the illustrations do most of the telling as a little girl named Olivia goes to pick up her mother at a rehearsal of the “The Nutcracker.” She goes all over the theater, providing readers with detailed glimpses of what things look like behind the scenes (much more than I saw as a child, in fact.) The black-and-white illustrations are bursting with detail that I’m guessing most ballet-goers never get to see. If you can get hold of this book, it is a real treat.
For more Nutcracker goodness from last year, check here and here.