Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Opera for Kids

I'm interested in learning about opera. That means my kids are, too. Well, maybe not interested, but it means I collect kids' opera materials and strew them about my house (thats the reason its such a mess). Opera has historical, story-telling, and EQ value.

I've previously mentioned my love of the Classical Kids CDs. Many in the series focus on composers of symphonies, though a couple touch on operas, like Mozart's Magic Flute, which has two CDs to its credit. Though, Mozart's Magic Fantasy, follows the story of the opera more so than Mozart's Magnificent Voyage, which includes more historical background of Mozart's life. Robbo over at the Butcher's shop shared his thoughts about Mozart's Magic Fantasy and its relationship to the original opera.

We also have World's Very Best Opera for Kids, which I've enjoyed. We don't listen to it much, though. For those who may feel thats a dumbed down version for kiddies, I will simply note that I decided to take a pass on the Beethoven's Wig series. That and I'm dealing with a husband who whenever he hears Largo Al Factotum from the Barber of Seville asks me if it makes me think of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. Small steps over here at the unclimber basecamp.

We've looked at a number of picture books for kids that tell the stories of famous operas. I can't say my kids have shown much interest, but I like to have them around. I picked up a beautiful book, At the Opera, for what seemed like a bargain from Daedalus books ($10), but, alas, its sold out now.

Other books we've looked at from the library:
The Barefoot Book of Stories from the Opera
The Random House Book of Opera Stories
Sing Me a Story

If opera doesn't float your boat, several of those publisher's put out similar books of ballet stories (Barefoot books, Random House, Dance Me a Story). Speaking of ballet stories, we like DK's book and CD set.


Wonderseekers said...

This post is awesome. Loving all the resources. Thanks! My kids reeeaaally like Beethoven's Wig. Not sure if its dumbed down or interestingly twisted in a catchy way for those so inclined? It does present the music in its pure form on the flip.

(Did I figure it out?)

Marjorie said...

Hi, thanks for the comment. I'm glad you liked the post.

I think if Beethoven's Wig works for you, its great. "Dumbed down" is definitely in the eye of the beholder -- I spent a lot of time reading the reviews on I may yet buy it some day, my kids loved the audio clips. So many great products, such limited money [we are loving the Putumayo Kids CDs right now and are slowly collecting them]

Shay said...

You are not alone regarding the level of operatic understanding by one's spouse. My DH, too, got his larnin' about opera, and classical music in general, from Loony Toons. Ah, well, there was that one episode of Gilligan's Island, too, where the cast put on "Hamlet" set to the music from "Carmen." ( Oy.

The good news is that Dad's handicap does not necessarily convey to the children. My girls looove opera!

BTW, I have a little opera info on my site at


Marjorie said...

Its the age old debate -- is it better to expose them to great music via cartoons, or is it better to let them come to the music in its pure form. I really don't have an opinion on the matter other than those images can get stuck in one's head!

Thanks for the link, I'll have to check out your website!

Wonderseekers said...

We love Mozart's Magic Fantasy and Magnificent Voyage!

Jackie said...

Hi, I just read your posting on life without school about music and P.E. I LOVED it so I looked up your blog. We adore the classical kids CDs too--we have them all. My 9 year old DD says classical music is her favorite. I just wanted to mention that your daughters may like musicals too. My oldest has been in love with CDs of Broadway musicals since she was tiny. She especially loves Annie Get your Gun and Fiddler on the Roof. Kind regards, Jackie

Marjorie said...

Hi Jackie, thanks for your comment and suggestion. My kids have enjoyed watching musicals, Mary Poppins and Bride & Prejudice, but I hadn't thought of getting the soundtracks, great idea. An especially good idea because some wonderful musicals have themes they aren't ready for [Sound of Music after the wedding; South Pacific, Camelot, Fiddler on the Roof] but they could still enjoy the music.