(edited by Francis Keeping and Roberta Prada)
A spectacularly illustrated witty book full of historical information and performance history of twenty operas – informative, beautiful and clever all at the same time.
Behind the scenes at the opera house there is a zany world of outsized characters, both on and off stage. Irreverent discussions of opera are usually held behind closed doors. Opera and Its Characters is filled with exceptional and matchless tales as told by two singers and their friends giving you their take on twenty operas through the eyes of the characters, shown in full-page color illustrations by Francis Keeping.
The stories in Opera and Its Characters include: the epic arguments between Puccini and his librettists and publisher; The Queen of the Night, aka the world’s worst mother-in-law; Don José, the quintessential mama’s boy and murderer; opera’s most dysfunctional family, King Nabucco of Babylon and his unhinged daughters, Lakme and her rather unusual Gerald, who falls in love with her even after she says, “You know, I could have had you killed”. These and many familiar and uncommon characters’ stories are contained in this book and are told in a scholarly yet uniquely whimsical fashion.
My visceral response to opera led me to create these drawings in Opera and Its Characters. Having spent years both behind and in front of the footlights, these pages represent the feelings that resonate when I conjure these characters in my mind or see them on the stage. They will evoke a wide variety of responses in others, but I am happy to report that they all have a bond with the crazy inner workings of my imagination.
Francis Keeping, New York, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Grace E. Mangum
7 Septembre 2008