This week we celebrate International Children’s Book Day. I make jewelry for grown-ups, but I still find that bracelets based on these so called children's stories are incredibly popular. So, I thought it would be good to have a look at why. Click underlined text if you would like to see bracelets associated with each story.
- Cinderella- initially it seemed a bit confusing to me that there are two opera versions of Cinderella. But they really are two completely different stories with different themes. In La Cenerentola, Rossini and his librettist Ferretti were determined to present a realistic Cinderella with no outer magic, relying instead on the magic that is within us. Angelina (Cinderella) is rewarded for her pure heart and human compassion. By Contrast Massenet’s Cendrillon puts the fairy in fairy tale with La Fee creating most of the plot points. But Lucette (Cinderella) and even the Prince are so real in their grief and unhappiness that one really rejoices when they find each other and only one word sums it up- magical!
- The Little Mermaid- Beloved in both theater and opera with The Little Mermaid musical and Dvorak’s Rusalka. Both diverge greatly from Hans Christian Andersen’s emotional fairy tale. The musical veers wildly off into a world of singing fish and fantasy. Rusalka mixes in elements from folk lore creatures. Its dark ending is quite different from Andersen’s sad but hopeful conclusion. But we connect to these stories deeply because everyone has experienced the longing for a person or situation that requires or would require a great sacrifice – for better or worse.
- Hansel and Gretel- While a bit different in opera than in its Grimm’s fairy-tale version, the message is the same: You don’t need size or physical strength to overcome something; you just need to keep your wits about you! This opera is more beloved for its incredibly beautiful music but the story has much to offer when you are feeling lost or scared and need encouragement.
- Bluebeard- The story in Grimm’s Fairy Tales, makes Stephen King novels seem tame. But to be fair at least that story makes actual sense. No one can quite say what is going on in the opera Bluebeard's Castle. Is it a vampire tale? Zombies? Is there some inherent symbolism we are just not wise enough to decipher? But, luckily this is opera and sense is not required; only great music and only two singers (bargain).
- Short stories of E.T.A. Hoffmann- I’m not sure these were intended as children’s stories but they include the beloved family favorite The Nutcracker as well as stories that came together to form the opera The Tales of Hoffmann. They can be dark stories, many fairy tales are, and include many fantastical elements that can be interpreted on both a children’s and adult’s level.
- Peter Pan- People really love this story it has been brought to stage and screen many times including the more recent derivation, Finding Neverland. Its quite a fun fantasy escape for kids but I think the reason adults resonate is we all have that burning desire for escape sometimes!
- Beauty and the Beast- It’s the ancient tale, made popular by a pair of French children’s books from the 18th century. Films, plays, musicals, even operas have brought this story to life. In the end it’s a very grown up message: That one should be loved for one’s heart and not one’s looks and when you love someone they ARE beautiful through and through.
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz The iconic film is nearly at a mythological level in America where we grow up with it. The popularity of the companion musical Wicked enhances its messages. Call in Joseph Campbell because there’s no question that this tale is the hero’s journey with a collection of heroes (and a girl heroine in 1900!) that all possess what they most desire and don’t realize it until they are put to the test. Such a deep lesson for all. Not(as stated in the film) that one should not look further for adventure than one’s own surroundings; but that only by reaching out will you find your true strengths. With bonus lessons in cooperation, loyalty, faithfulness and being yourself, this story is timeless and not just for kids.
Wonder what will be next? Sleeping beauty? Rapunzel? Let me know thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org