When a dazzling diva retells a classic Verdi opera, the narrative resonates with the long, stately melodic lines and thundering choral climaxes of the music itself. And when two of the greatest American illustrators turn their hands to the pictures, you’ve got a full-fledged publishing event.

Briefly: Aïda, princess of Ethiopia, is captured and enslaved by the enemy Egyptians. At the court of the pharaoh, she falls in love with Radames, the Egyptian commander. When he leads the Egyptians into battle against her father, Aïda is fatally torn between filial and romantic love.

BOLD “Aïda”] may not be a story for every youngster. It’s clearly archaic: tender young love trampled by war-crazed patriarchs. But Leontyne Price infuses the tale with a passionate sincerity that lofts it to a plane of tragic nobility. The Dillons’ pictures are simply spectacular — ethereal, mysterious, gleaming with gold, rippling with marbled colors, and elegantly framed with Egyptian friezes and lotus motifs. And Aïda herself is heart-breakingly beautiful.

Together, Price and Dillons achieve the impossible: capturing the thrill of opera on paper. A+

  • Music