One of the remarkable things about children, is how quickly they pick up on things. Learning new languages seems to come easily to them. Chances are, if they are exposed early to opera and classical music, they develop a love for it.
Books are a wonderful way to help children understand opera and they are some great books out there. Often they include a cd so your children can not only look at the illustrations, hear the story, but also listen to the music. They are also perfect for adults to brush up on their knowledge.
We have put together books in various languages for you and your children to enjoy and learn from. There are many more books, but we chose the ones that explain the famous operas that are performed.
Children's opera books in German
Left to right:
1. Der Karneval der Tiere (The carnival of the animals) is not an opera per se, but a fun musical suite of fourteen movements by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. Each movement represents an animal. You can hear tortoises, hens & roasters, elephants and kangeroos.
This book comes with a cd. The Annette Betz Verlag has a lot of books that bring classical music and operas to children and their parents. This book is perfect for kids at all ages.
Karneval der Tiere, 25 Euros.
2. Der Nussknacker (The Nutcracker) is also from the Annette Betz Verlag and a classic. You will be surprised how often you hear the Nutcracker suite in commercials. The beautiful story of Marie and her Nutcracker is a favorite during the holidays and can be used to beautifully to prepare children for their first ballet. It is just magical when the snow falls on stage. This book is perfect for kids at all ages.
Der Nussknacker, 25 Euros.
3. Turandot is one of our favorites around here. The story set in China about the princess and the nameless stranger, whose name she must find out. A story about the victory of love. This book is beautifully illustrated in darker colours. There is no cd and the story is told like a fairy tale. The texts are also visually interesting, as some are written upside down. Text and illustrations were made by Carollina Fabinger for publisher LibroNauti. This book would be a great read for older children around 10 years.
Turandot, 22 Euros.
4. Another Turandot, but very different to the one already mentioned. Opernmouth is a publisher that wants to explain opera easily and they succeed. These books are not only for children but also for adults. Fun illustrations exlain the story in easy words and with a relationships graph. There are more books available such as Carmen or Die Zauberflöte.
Turandot, 12 Euros.
Opern für kleine Hörer (Opera für little listeners) deserves a special mention. These are not books, but a slipcase with 13 cds. Each with an opera such as Zauberflöte, La Boheme or Carmen. Not only do you hear the music, but the story is told. But it is worth noting, that some operas have been motified, so they won't scare children or make the story easier to understand.
Zeit Edition, Opern für kleine Hörer, 90 Euros.
Children's opera books in Spanish
Spanish book publisher Opera Prima Edition Hipòtesi has various opera books in its catalogue and all of them are worth checking out. Each book as a different feel to it. Porgy & Bess is illustrated in bold colours, while Carmen, for example comes in darker colours. This is also the first time we see Progy & Bess as a book for children. Each book comes with a cd. An illustrated cd and a number in the text indicate which number you should play to accompany the story. The books are recommended for children, who are at least 7 years old. Other books are Aida, La Traviata or Lohengrin.
Opera Prima Books, 24 Euros.
Children's opera books in French
The Paris Opera has a wonderful shop, that also offers books for children. The ones above all come with a cd that accompany the story. Each book is illustrated by a different artist, that explains why each books feels unique. These books are great for children between 5-12 years old.
Opera books from the L'opera de Paris, 19 Euros.
Children's opera books in English
As mentioned before, The Nutcracker is not an opera. But this one is so special that we had to include it. This Nutcracker papercut pop up book by author and illustrator Shobhna Patel is one of the really beautiful books out there. Published in 2017 it is also one of the newest versions, you can purchase. The story is told through text, but also through gorgeous intricate laser cut illustrations. These cut outs are like perfect pieces or art and because of the delicate pieces it is recommended for children older than 7 years.
The Nutcracker, 15Pounds.
The music story books by Big and Small Publishing are special indeed. The story is retold in lavish illustraions suitable for primary grades. The lyrics are highlited and included in the story. But there is more than just the story. The books come with a supplement that contains information about the composer, their works and other interesting facts. Children will also learn about other aspects of music, such as how to read notes and what the difference between opera and musical is.
The Magic Flute, 17 Dollars.