THE BAREFOOT BOOK OF STORIES FROM THE OPERA by Shahrukh Husain

THE BAREFOOT BOOK OF STORIES FROM THE OPERA

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Age Range: 8 - 12
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KIRKUS REVIEW

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 humor—the 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)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 1-902283-28-7
Page count: 80pp
Publisher: Barefoot
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1999