cover image The P. Craig Russell Library of Opera Adaptations: Vol. 3

The P. Craig Russell Library of Opera Adaptations: Vol. 3

P. Craig Russell, . . NBM, $24.95 (140pp) ISBN 978-1-56163-388-3

This final book in its series adapts Pelléas & Mélisande , Salome , Ein Heldentraum and Cavallieria Rusticana , introducing each opera with an educational text on the work and its author. The first, Pelléas & Mélisande , tells the story of a girl whom readers meet weeping in a forest, and the ensuing love triangle between her and brothers Pelléas and Golaud, which destroys them all. Russell's new interpretation of the metaphysical fantasies of Maeterlinck and Debussy is ravishing. The beautiful illustrations and dream-like colors (evoking light, sea and stars) make this tortured story of love and grief even more epic. The short Ein Heldentraum is a single song, and Russell's art and coloring provide a unique reinterpretation of the lyrics and add an additional layer of meaning. Cavallieria Rusticana ("The Godfather's Code") is another story of cuckoldry; it contrasts vengeance with the sunny rebirth of an Easter morning. Lastly, Salome , based on the Oscar Wilde play, decadently contrasts spiritual and physical virtue. Russell channels Aubrey Beardsley's original illustrations while giving the story his own spin. His ambitious plan to adapt the great works of opera into comics form is audacious, but his flowing, poetic lines and fanciful colors are an art in and of themselves. (Aug.)