P. CRAIG RUSSELL LIBRARY OF OPERA ADAPTATIONS

 

The P. Craig Russell Library of Opera Adaptions: Adaptions of Parsifal, Ariana & Bluebeard, I Pagliacci & Songs By Mahler (Russell, P. Craig. P. Craig Russell Library of Opera Adaptations, 2.)

The P. Craig Russell Library of Opera Adaptations, Volume 3: Adaptations of Pelleas & Melisande, Salome, Ein Heldentraum, Cavalleria Rusticana

The Art Of P. Craig Russell (Hardcover)

The P. Craig Russell Library of Opera Adaptions: Adaptions of Parsifal, Ariana & Bluebeard, I Pagliacci & Songs By Mahler (Russell, P. Craig. P. Craig Russell Library of Opera Adaptations, 2.) (Paperback)

The P. Craig Russell Library of Opera Adaptations, Volume 3: Adaptations of Pelleas & Melisande, Salome, Ein Heldentraum, Cavalleria Rusticana (Hardcover)

 The Art of P.Craig Russell

The Magic Flute: Adapted from the Opera by W.A.Mozart (Russell, P. Craig. P. Craig Russell Library of Opera Adaptations, V. 1.)

Ring of the Nibelung Volume 1: The Rhinegold & The Valkyrie (Ring of the Nibelung)

The Ring of the Nibelung Book 2: Siegfried & Gotterdammerung: The Twilight of the Gods

The Magic Flute

The Ring of The Nibelung Pt. 1

The Ring of the Nibelung Pt. 2

 Wow, these books are gorgeous! I discovered them when I went to Houston, Texas to see a very good production of The Magic Flute.  That book was for sale along with the libretto and assorted other tchochkes like t-shirts and videos. But I saw the book and fell in love. Love! As soon as I could, I got on the -Zon and started hunting down other editions.  They weren’t that hard to find, even though most of them are out of print or close to it.

PCR has done a wonderful service to the world of opera.  If you’ve ever developed hemorrhoids sitting through 4 nights of interminable Ring Cycle or pinched your face at Pagliacci, these books can console you.  They are not just for reading, they are a visual treat. 

Caveat: They are mostly NOT FOR CHILDREN.  The Ring of the Nibelung contains sexy Rhinemaidens and an incestuous brother/sister relationship which becomes a vital issue in The Valkyrie.  Salome has a father lusting after his twinkle-toes daughter who has a bent for necrophilia.  {{’Scuse me. I just threw up in my mouth a little.}} The pictures are pretty, but kids don’t need to see that.  There’s nothing of the Bugs Bunny cuteness.  Operatic stories are positively venal.  That’s why the music is so powerful that it entangles your spirit and draws it out of you.  You can feel it being drawn from you.  Russell’s style captures that very well.  It’s otherworldly, with bold colors and tall frames.  Russell is very good at capturing male and female beauty.  Glowing eyes, alluring features.  It’s dead sexy, as Fat Bastard would say.  And hate. That mad clamor of revenge and wrath.  He captures it wonderfully.  There’s blood, too.  Lots and lots of blood.

These are meant to be story books, so they do not contain a translation of the libretto.  In the Nibelung books, they do a respectable job of recreating some of the more dramatic aria scenes.  Like when Siegmund takes the sword from Sieglinde’s husband’s house, thus manifesting a prophesy.  Pelleas et Melisande also has a very good driving dialogue that mimics the leitmotifs respectably.  (I hope that’s the right word.)  There’s a negative review at the -Zon that calls the books tacky, garish, and styleless.  I can see why one would think that, but it’s a frikkin’ comic book.  The dustjacket plainly states "adaptation".  It’s supposed to be garish.  Restraint wasn’t in Wagner’s psychological makeup.  If it was, we would have no Ring Cycle.  We’d have James Taylor, who already has his own gig, I’ve heard.

So here is a vital issue when dealing with mythology — you can’t judge gods and goddesses by human standards.  I’m not saying the "I" word is okay if you’re a god; it’s repulsive and wrong on so many levels, but gods operate under standards that have no place in the human realm.  That being the case, mythology makes for amazing operas.  If you can allow yourself to suspend disbelief. 

**The Ring Cycle books are published by DARK HORSE COMICS.  The other editions are published by Nantier Beall Minoustchine (NBM) Publishing.


If you happen to check out the links at H&BRecordings Direct, please reference  The Festering Blurb.  I have been a customer of H&B since the 90s when I used to work at their San Antonio office.  That was one of the best jobs I ever had.  They are wonderful people.

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