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Book Club

Interested in reading literature that covers the stories, history, theme or other related things about the operas we produce?  Join the Lyric Opera of Kansas City Book Club! To join, simply contact Linda Ade Brand, Director of Education and Community Engagement, at labrand@kcopera.org, 816.471.4933 or via our online contact us form.

Book Club Reading List:

Hansel and Gretel

There will be no meeting in conjunction with Hansel and Gretel. Here are two suggested readings in advance of the opera.

How the Grimm Brothers Saved the Fairy Tale
By Jack Zipes  |  HUMANITIES, March/April 2015 | Volume 36, Number 2

Jack Zipes is Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota. His three most recent books are: The Golden Age of Folk and Fairy Tales: From the Brothers Grimm to Andrew Lang (2013), The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (2014), and Grimm Legacies: The Magic Power of the Grimms’ Folk and Fairy Tales (2015), and this article is based on material from his books. He received an NEH fellowship for his work on the origins of European fairy tales.

The Uses of Enchantment:  The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales
by Bruno Bettelheim  |  1976

Bruno Bettelheim was one of the great child psychologists of the twentieth century and perhaps none of his books has been more influential than this revelatory study of fairy tales and their universal importance in understanding childhood development. Analyzing a wide range of traditional stories, from the tales of Sindbad to “The Three Little Pigs,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “The Sleeping Beauty,” Bettelheim shows how the fantastical, sometimes cruel, but always deeply significant narrative strands of the classic fairy tales can aid in our greatest human task, that of finding meaning for one’s life.


The Marriage of Figaro

Book Club will be meeting on October 13th at 6:30 p.m. at Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s Michael and Ginger Frost Production Arts Building (Minimum of 20 people signed up in order to hold the meeting.)  Members need to provide their own book.  The meeting will include a sneak peek of preparations at the rehearsal hall, followed by beverages and a discussion of the book.

The Figaro Murders by Laura Lebow

In 1786 Vienna, Lorenzo Da Ponte is the court librettist for the Italian Theatre during the height of the enlightened reign of Emperor Joseph II. This exalted position doesn’t mean he’s particularly well paid, or even out of reach of the endless intrigues of the opera world. In fact, far from it. One morning, Da Ponte stops off at his barber, only to find the man being taken away to debtor’s prison. Da Ponte impetuously agrees to carry a message to his barber’s fiancée and try to help her set him free, even though he’s facing pressures of his own. He’s got one week to finish the libretto for The Marriage of Figaro for Mozart before the opera is premiered for the Emperor himself. Da Ponte visits the house where the barber’s fiancée works—the home of a nobleman, high in the Vienna’s diplomatic circles—and then returns to his own apartments, only to be dragged from his rooms in the middle of the night. It seems the young protégé of the diplomat was killed right about the time Da Ponte was visiting, and he happens to be their main suspect. Now he’s given a choice—go undercover into the household and uncover the murderer, or be hanged for the crime himself. Brilliantly recreating the cultural world of late 18th century Vienna, the epicenter of the Enlightenment, Lebow brings to life some of the most famous figures of music, theatre, and politics.


Dead Man Walking

In partnership with the Kansas City Public Library, the Book Club will be meeting on February 9, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. (time subject to change) at Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s Michael and Ginger Frost Production Arts Building. Books will be provided to members by the Kansas City Public Library. The meeting will include a sneak peek of preparations at the rehearsal hall, followed by beverages and a discussion of the book.

Dead Man Walking by Sr. Helen Prejean

In 1982, Sister Helen Prejean became the spiritual advisor to Patrick Sonnier, the convicted killer of two teenagers who was sentenced to die in the electric chair of Louisiana’s Angola State Prison. In the months before Sonnier’s death, the Roman Catholic nun came to know a man who was as terrified as he had once been terrifying. She also came to know the families of the victims and the men whose job it was to execute—men who often harbored doubts about the rightness of what they were doing.


The Pirates of Penzance

The Book Club will be meeting on March 30, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. at Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s Michael and Ginger Frost Production Arts Building (Minimum of 20 people signed up in order to hold the meeting.)  Members need to provide their own book. The meeting will include a sneak peek of preparations at the rehearsal hall, followed by beverages and a discussion of the book.

The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith

The diary is that of a man who acknowledges that he is not a “Somebody” – Charles Pooter of ‘The Laurels’, Brickfield Terrace, Holloway, a clerk in the city of London – and it chronicles in hilarious detail the everyday life of the lower middle class during the Great Victorian age.


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