Unknown Opera Books

Hey, opera lovers!
I’ve been spending a lot of time reading books recently. And I missed it very much as I had not been reading for about a year! Yeah…that’s a bad thing. There was always a lot of stuff I needed or wanted to do that books turned out to be at the bottom of the wish list! And my book comeback gave an idea to write a post about «opera books». We know that maybe a half of operas is based on this or that novel. But I’d like to tell you about, so to say, unknown books which inspired famous composers to create their masterpieces. And they are «Carmen» by Prosper Mérimée, «Dom Juan ou le Festin de pierre» («Don Juan or The Feast with the Statue») by Jean-Baptiste Molière and «Scènes de la vie de bohème» («Scenes from the life of Bohemia») by Henri Murger. (Oh! I’ve just noticed that they are all French!:)). 

I read «Carmen» last year. It’s a pretty short story, I guess about 45 pages. But when I began to explore it, I came to conclusion that the plot of opera is rather smooth comparing to the book! Don Jose descends to a professional criminal and thief, Carmen manipulates him how she wants. I don’t wanna tell you a lot of information about it but the level of suspense is super high!!! Of course, Bizet couldn’t put all the details into his piece but the portrayal of the main characters in his opera is superb! If you love «Carmen» (who doesn’t!?) and you are interested in its whole story, you should definitely check it out! 

Don Giovaaaaaaani!!! (That was me trying to sing Commendatore’s line:))). Mozart was inspired by different legends about Don. Even though Molière’s book was not a main basis for his creation, I think Molière’s version of this character is very close to its opera portrayal. Some opera heroes have different names in the book, for example, Leporello is Sganarelle. Here you’ll find funny dialogues between Don and his servant, love adventures, broken hearts and even a very interesting story line of Don Juan and his father which helps you to know more about him. As the previous piece this book is also read quickly! I enjoyed it very much!

The third opera inspiration is «Scènes de la vie de bohème». Puccini composed great music for «La Boheme» choosing just one of many stories written by Henri Murger. The book is a compilation of episodes from the life of four friends who represent Parisian Bohemia of the 19th century. Gradually, you get to know the main personages better and better. All chapters are independent from each other. It’s not one story, it’s sort of a collection of little stories. They have lovers, friends, debts, moments of bad luck or happiness! I decided to read this book cause I’d been always interested in Musetta’s future after Mimi’s death. And you get an answer to this question in this book. Rodolfo have a lot of lovers during his youth but his relationships with Mimi are special, that’s why Murger dedicated several chapters to their love story. And you’ll know a lot of details of their life together when she is not so ill.  

That’s it for now, guys!
What are your favorite «opera books»? Did you read these three books? Leave comments below with your book recommendations.


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