The Barefoot Books of Stories from the Opera

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9781782852537: The Barefoot Books of Stories from the Opera

With vivid language, lots of facts for music lovers and beautiful illustrations, this expansive gift book introduces youngsters to seven of the world's best-loved operas in a delightful way.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Seven operas, chosen for simplicity and relative absence of death and violence, receive lighthearted retellings, along with brief character and composer notes. The contents encompass nearly 200 years of opera history, from Gluck's 18th-century Orpheus and Eurydice, featuring an unexpectedly happy ending, to Benjamin Britten's pathos-laden The Little Sweep, with selections ranging from somber (Wagner's Flying Dutchman) to giddy (Rimski-Korsakov's Christmas Eve) in between. Husain brightens her plot summaries with flashes of humorthe usually-grim Furies respond to Orpheus's pleas by ``smiling rather rustily,'' while Gretel greets the Crunch Witch's talk of boy soup and stew with ``That's disgusting''and tucks in occasional snatches of lyric or references to singing to remind readers that opera is a musical genre. Mayhew introduces characters and catches each story's high spots with tableaux and individual portraits of gorgeously costumed figures. This is pleasant preparatory reading for a night at the opera, although it is skimpy next to The Random House Book of Opera Stories (1998, not reviewed) or other heftier guides. (Anthology. 8-12) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 5 Up-A collection of seven opera plots, chosen for their potential interest to children. The book includes Benjamin Britten's The Little Sweep, Mozart's The Magic Flute, Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, Rossini's La Cenerentola, Gluck's Orpheus and Eurydice, and Rimsky-Korsakov's Christmas Eve. Each retelling begins with a page of information on the origin of the story and a few facts about the composer, and is delightfully illustrated with renderings of graceful costumed figures from the opera and at least one dramatic full-page ink-and-watercolor painting. Although the writing flows nicely and dialogue enlivens each narrative, the complexity of the plots with their many characters, twists of fate, and magical elements may confuse youngsters unfamiliar with the stories. However, in music-loving homes and for classroom use as an introduction to listening to an opera performance, this title will be a valuable addition.
Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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