Drawing the Curtain
Maurice Sendak’s Designs for Opera and Ballet
This book showcases a lesser-known aspect of Maurice Sendak’s oeuvre–his set designs for opera and ballets.
Maurice Sendak is well-known for his acclaimed children’s books, but he was also an avid opera lover and designed a number of sets for opera and ballet productions, among them Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Janáˇcek's The Cunning Little Vixen, Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges, Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, and an opera by Oliver Knussen based on Where the Wild Things Are. This book brings together over one hundred and twentyfive pieces from among the more than nine hundred in the Morgan Library & Museum’s collection, including preliminary sketches, final watercolors, and cardboard models. Essays in the book discuss the importance of music to Sendak’s work, his fascination with comic strips, movies, mechanical toys, and pop-up books, and the artworks that inspired his stage designs. The book reveals the full breadth of Sendak’s visual work for opera and ballet and highlights his keen sense of humor, his love of art history, and his ability to tell striking stories through his art.
RACHEL FEDERMAN is Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Drawings at the Morgan Library & Museum. She received her PhD in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and previously held the position of Assistant Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She has published essays on Bruce Conner, Paul McCarthy, Allen Ruppersberg, and Andy Warhol, among others.
LIAM DOONA is a freelance theater designer and Head of the Department of Design and Visual Arts at Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Ireland, where he also lectures in scenography. Alongside his academic role, he has maintained a practice as a set and costume designer. His work was included in the Collaborators exhibition (2007) at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and can also be seen in 2D-3D (2003) and Collaborators (2007), the quadrennial reviews of British stage design published by the Society of British Theatre Designers.
CHRISTOPHER MATTALIANO was named Portland Opera’s General Director in 2003. He has directed productions for such companies as the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, Washington Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Minnesota Opera, and Portland Opera, among others. He has also taught and directed at the Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Yale University, and Princeton University and served on OPERA America’s Board of Directors from 2005 to 2011.
AVI STEINBERG is the author of three books, including The Happily Ever: Travels in the World of Popular Romance, which will be published by Knopf Doubleday in 2020. He is a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine and the Culture Desk of The New Yorker.