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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Opera-Manga Lives! It Lives!

A comment left for my first post about Shakespeare-manga, from someone at Classical Comics (see link), has led to a conversation, and she led me further to someone who is actually doing graphic versions of operas! Hurray!

It is P. Craig Russell. I am adding a link to him too. None of the operas I was thinking of, like La Traviata and La Boheme, but instead he has produced versions of The Magic Flute and The Ring of the Nibelung and Parsifal and Pelleas and Melisande.

The cool thing here is that my children know The Magic Flute quite well, in part because it features in Mozart's Magic Fantasy, one of the Classical Kids' series that started with Beethoven Lives Upstairs, that they have been falling asleep to for years. I cannot recommend these disks highly enough. They do correspond with known biographical facts about the composers, they work around short excerpts from many of a composer's pieces and they contextualize these composers in their times, while entertaining with a story. I feel they can be forgiven for the odd anachronism, or language slip, as the value in laying down a ground of really good music is so high.

In a related note, something we look to You-Tube for is opera arias. We once spent a couple of hours on a rainy Sunday judging the merits of various performances of the Queen of the Night from The Magic Flute and Il Commendatore from Don Giovanni. WAY cooler than Hannah Montana. I don't think that even the most disinterested person could fail to be reached by these two arias. (Mozart's awesome Requiem does not stand up so well on You-Tube - better to just close your eyes and listen to a recording. Except for the Princess Tutu video, q.v..)

And The Magic Flute is also part of the Metropolitan Opera's offerings that we hope to find on DVD.

It seems like a no-brainer that my kids will want to peek into a graphic version of The Magic Flute. And, if they don't, who cares? I will.

Incidentally, about a year ago, I bought a Wagner's The Best of The Ring CD-set from Philips, and the book Wagner Without Fear by William Berger. I felt like it was ignorant to know nothing (duh!) and be afraid. In fact, Wagner writes the most lush romantic music possible. I often amuse myself when listening to the radio by trying to work out the composer, and I figured out that if I am saying to myself, "Beethoven? No. Tchaikovsky? No. Beethoven? No. Tchaikovsky? No." it is actually Wagner. Not at all threatening, really! Time to try The Ring of the Nibelung, graphic version.

Back to P Craig: even I had heard of Hellboy, one of his major creations. He has also worked with Neil Gaiman on some Sandman stories. I'll have a check at the couple of volumes of Sandman I have, and if I am missing P Craig's, I'll get them.

Now I have to get to a bookstore and get out my wallet for:
Classical Comics Macbeth at least, and we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their Frankenstein, too;
and The Magic Flute, and The Ring of the Nibelung, for starters, illustrated by P Craig Russell;
and any Gaiman/Russell that I do not have.

The marigold asks nervously:
It is one thing to be able to buy or borrow all the books that are interesting, but will I have enough time to read them? And listen to the music? And share?


  1. You will never have time to read everything that you want to read. I ahve come to learn this lesson sadly as I add to the unread stack of books beside my bed on a regular basis.
    Ps. If you find the graphic novel version of the Magic Flute, I'd like to see it too because I think it is a genius idea. Will it come with a CD of excerpts I wonder?

  2. I am still searching for Classical Comics in a store, and the right P Craig Russell. I will surely share, if I get one. Would be cool with CD, but perhaps limiting as a reading experience because of the difference in pace.

    I sent an email to his official website asking if he was into the music as much as the stories, but I have not heard back.

  3. Opera Manga? We've got opera manga! Vancouver Opera has been creating them for the last couple of years and many are on line. then click on "read". There's a manga link at the bottom of the page. Up now: Eugene Onegin. Up next: Carmen. We are putting a collection together for our 50th Anniversary next fall. Let us know if you'd like a copy!

  4. I will go straight there and look at it. Of course I would love a copy of the collection too. Thanks for sending this. It is what one hopes these questions bring: answers!

  5. I have been. I have looked. I will print. These are the classic stories - suitably dramatic for manga treatment. WOW! I will add a link on my site and I will start printing them to read with my kids.