The P. Craig Russell Library of

The closest Classics Illustrated got to opera was William Tell, adapting Schiller's play rather than Rossini's grandest work. Too bad, because opera is customarily visually opulent. But then, Classics Illustrated didn't have Russell, the most opulent contemporary realistic comics artist, who loves opera. His second roundup of opera adaptations includes Wagner's Parsifal, Dukas' Ariane and Bluebeard, Mascagni's I Pagliacci, and, for good measure, two Mahler songs. Russell portrays Parsifal's encounters with the witch Kundry and the eunuch sorceror Klingsor in the middle of the opera (some earlier events appear in flashback) and wisely discards the New Age-ish ending. Dukas' crypto-feminist modification of Bluebeard, with its rooms full of gems, lets Russell indulge his lapidary flair and conjure a morbid decorativeness also found in the Mahler song illustrations. Best comes last, though. Russells's Pagliacci, a black-and-white collaboration with Galen Showman, is the most dynamic in action, the most varied in angle of vision from panel to panel, and, like the original–a verismo, or real-life opera–the most humanly engaging. Bravo, maestro, bravo!
–Ray Olson, Booklist
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