One of his first professional commissions was to create window displays for the toy store FAO Schwarz. His illustrations were first published in in a textbook titled Atomics for the Millions by Maxwell Leigh Eidinoff. When he was born, his sister Natalie was nine years old and his brother Jack, five. It features Max, a boy who "rages against his mother for being sent to bed without any supper". I loved it.
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One month later I am still bubbling with broad spectrum happiness, awe for the cast, the crew, the musicians, the set and costume designers, and Nicholas Muni, stage director and production designer. Every time Jennie, the Sealyham terrier, shook her little tail, I got goosebumps and giddy and the next day watching my own silly little stiff-legged, ragamuffin Brino who barks too much, the two became as one. Brino, just like Jennie, believes that there must be more to life than everything.
You must wonder what am I talking about. After her own starring role in Higglety Pigglety Pop, Jennie and her new friends at the Theater perform, attend and comment delightfully on the condensed Flute. Dawn Upshaw, Director of of the Vocal Arts Program, helps us understand the link between the two operas. If not, I suggest you get a copy and read it once, read it twice, and then read it to every little boy or girl you might know and to grownups you love who still have a spark of childhood in them.
He collaborated on more than one operatic production of Higglety-Pigglety Pop. As we sat waiting for the show to start we viewed the street above, without Cat the Milkman and his truck, who arrived later.
It was as if someone were reading the story to me pointing out the characters and actions in the pictures as she read. Wish I could show it to you. The Bard production was in the original English but still the words were often impossible to decipher. The text was streamed, but barely legible, and a bit awkward across the top of the stage.
I was glad I did my homework. The book was available at the local library the day before the performance which amazed me actually, because I would have thought other opera goers would have taken it home to read. The cast, musicians and crew were wonderful. Kelly Newberry performed the role of Jennie and stole my heart. The amount of time and energy that went into these two-nights of performance must have been enormous.
The credits are copied here from the program so that the participants will go down in history, although just today I found a promotional article which lists the singers. Someone told me that the operas were professionally filmed. Hope so.
Meeting Jennie has brought new life to my relationship with my little Brino and my love of him is mingled with my fascination for that brave little white dog who sang so beautifully. His fur has now reached the shaggy stage and he soon will be ready for his summer puppy cut. The way he is now tho, he would look good on the end of long stick wiping the cobwebs from the corners of the rooms in my house.
That sounds like something Jennie would have been game to do before she became a star. Perhaps you had to be there.
Higglety Pigglety Pop by Maurice Sendak, First Edition