Summer Reading: Operas with a Literary Pedigree
15th July 2015
Bring on the summer. Bring on the heat. Bring on the books! When you find yourself with time for some added reading hours this summer — dive into these operas alongside the literary gems which inspired their composers to create something new, something invaluable for our stages…
Best-Sellers in the OPERA aisle:
Little Women (1998) It's highly virtuous to say we'll be good, but we can't do it all at once, and it takes a long pull, a strong pull, and a pull all together before some of us even get our feet set in the right way. Jo had got so far, she was learning to do her duty, and to feel unhappy if she did not, but to do it cheerfully, ah, that was another thing!
— Louisa May Alcott
La Hija de Rappaccini (Rappaccini's Daughter) (1983) There is something truer and more real, than what we can see with the eyes, and touch with the finger.
— Nathaniel Hawthorne
Alice in Wonderland (1978) Have I gone mad? I'm afraid so, but let me tell you something, the best people usually are.
— Lewis Carroll
The Cask of Amontillado (1993)I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation.
— Edgar Allan Poe Tell Tale Heart (2010)Listen. It starts with the old man. And old man in an old house. A good man, I suppose. He didn't harm me, I didn't want his gold, if gold there was. Then what was it? I think…I think it was…his eye.
The Fall of the House of Usher (1988)
…having informed me abruptly that the lady Madeleine was no more, he stated his intention of preserving her corpse for a fortnight…in one of the numerous vaults within the main walls of the building.
— Poe The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (2010)We were learning, we old ones, that in times when a species, a race, is under threat, drives and necessities built into the very substance of our flesh speak out in ways that we need never have known about if extremities had not come to squeeze these truths out of us. An older, a passing, generation needs to hand on goodness, something fine and high — even if it is only in potential — to their children.
— Doris Lessing
Wuthering Heights (1950)
I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind. And this is one: I'm going to tell it — but take care not to smile at any part of it.
— Emily Brontë
Peggy Glanville Hicks
The Transposed Heads (1954) Yet we are…guilty if we simply feast on the sight of beauty without inquiring into its being.
— Thomas Mann
Angle of Repose (1976) It was as if she had thought him into existence again, as if her mind were a flask into which had been poured a measure of longing, a measure of discontent, a measure of fatigue, a dash of bitterness, and pouf, there he stood.
— Wallace Stegner
Rebecca (1982)If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.
— Daphne du Maurier
Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham (1992) Try them, try them, and you may! Try them and you may, I say.
— Dr. Seuss Many Moons (1997) "It will be very easy to get the moon for you," said the Court Jester. "I will climb the tree tonight when it gets caught in the top branches and bring it to you." Then he thought of something else. "What is the moon make of, Princess?" he asked. "Oh," she said, "it's made of gold, of course, silly."
— James Thurber
the difficulty of crossing a field (1999)…Mrs. Williamson, with her child in her arms and followed by several servants, came running down the walk in great excitement, crying: "He is gone, he is gone! O God! What an awful thing!" and many other such exclamations, which I do not distinctly recollect.
— Ambrose Bierce
Pride and Prejudice (2007)A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.
— Jane Austen
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1981) Death is a dignitary who when he comes announced is to be received with formal manifestations of respect, even by those most familiar with him.
— Ambrose Bierce The Voice of Ariadne (1973) He hesitated a moment, as if her very forgiveness kept the gulf open between them, and then he strode forward, fell on his two knees, and buried his head in her lap.
— Henry James, The Last of the Valerii
The Wings of the Dove (1961)She found herself, for the first moment, looking at the mysterious portrait through tears. Perhaps it was her tears that made it just then so strange and fair…the face of a young woman, all splendidly drawn, down to the hands, and splendidly dressed…And she was dead, dead, dead.
— Henry James
The Little Prince (2003)And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Robert Xavier Rodríguez
The Ransom of Red Chief (1986) Gentlemen: I received your letter to-day by post, in regard to the ransom you ask for the return of my son. I think you are a little high in your demands, and I hereby make you a counter-proposition, which I am inclined to believe you will accept. You bring Johnny home and pay me two hundred and fifty dollars in cash, and I agree to take him off your hands.
— O. Henry
Tjenerindens Fortælling (The Handmaid's Tale) (1996-98) We yearned for the future. How did we learn it, that talent for insatiability?
— Margaret Atwood
Kullervo (1988) Kuusten suojaan, kosken äyräälle, hautaamme Kalervon pojan.
— Aleksis Kivi
Marco Polo (1995)"If we strive for truth, we are bound to lie. Whereas if we set out instead to produce a fabrication…" "I thought we had agreed," he said, "that we are writing a fable and not a history." "I thought we had agreed the two are indistinguishable."
— Paul Griffiths, Myself and Marco Polo
A Gentle Spirit (1977) "Is there a living man in the country?" cried the Russian hero. "I cry the same, though I am not a hero, and no one answers my cry."
— Fyodor Dostoevsky
Blond Eckbert (1993) You must not reckon me a babbler, began the lady. My husband says you have so generous a mind, that it is not right in us to hide aught from you. Only do not take my narrative for a fable, however strangely it may sound.
— Ludwig Tieck