cover image Aida


Leontyne Price. Harcourt Children's Books, $20 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200405-7

This retelling of one of Verdi's most popular works suffers from the primary problem inherent in retelling any opera. Operas are composed, first and foremost, as musical works, and character motivation tends to be expressed in the music. While Price has faithfully outlined the opera's plot--the Ethiopian princess Aida's love for the Egyptian warrior Radames; the jealousy of Amneris, the Pharaoh's daughter; Radames's ultimate execution; and Aida's sacrifice--she does not provide a plausible rationale for their actions and, in the absence of Verdi's music, the story comes across as thin. Considered individually, the Dillons' paintings make dramatic tableaux, and taken together they form a stunning, unified whole. The art focuses on overall action, not individuals, and goes a very long way to illuminating the motivations lacking in Price's text. Even with minor reservations, this A ida is lavishly packaged and strikingly designed. All ages. (Oct.)