Book Reviews: ABC of Opera – Classical

Elinor Bishop
Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Elinor Bishop shares her thoughts on ABC of Opera's Classical edition, published by Graffeg Limited

ABC of Opera: Classical
ABC of Opera: Classical

The Classical edition of The Academy of Barmy Composers welcomes you with colourful illustrations of composers and creatures bursting from its pages. We are met by the charming Professor Peri (Jacopo Peri) who brings the story into the Classical period. This is an excellent feature for students and teachers alike, helping to draw the links between the different musical periods naturally. The book cleverly uses Italian musical terms throughout, conveying their meaning outside a musical context and helping introduce students to the terms in a memorable way.

The book is packed with helpful cross-curricular links relating to different buildings in London and their historical significance. These will also serve as useful prompts for any teacher trying to draw out answers from students. The links made between places and music provide the flesh on the bones of musical history, making it a page-turner that students are unlikely to forget.

Young students will gain extremely varied but suitably in-depth subject knowledge. There are useful links to other periods of musical history, as well as relevant links to geography and the ever-popular dinosaur facts that pop up as the characters travel to the Natural History Museum.

The book is a joy to read and would be a huge asset to any music curriculum, but also works incredibly well as a story book for any primary classroom teacher. Although the book would be enjoyed by any age group, it would sit best in KS1 if being read by a teacher, and is suitable for KS2 pupils to read themselves.

The beautiful illustrations throughout the book are a highlight, along with the songs sung by the composers (my personal favourite being ‘Bravo Rossini, bring tortellini’), both serving to bring the world of the Classical era to life. The Academy of Barmy Composers was truly a pleasure to read, and I will be tracking down the Baroque, Modern and Romantic books in the series.