After a successful spring Kickstarter campaign in which Arizona Opera more than doubled its funding goal of $20,000, thanks to 829 backers, the opera company has announced it will be publishing “Carmen: The Graphic Novel” for release in time for the holiday season.
The 112-page hardcover graphic novel will be available in early December for consumers nationwide via Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores and comic shops, according to a press release. It’s currently available for pre-order through Amazon for $35.
Perhaps the most famous opera in history, Georges Bizet’s Carmen premiered in 1875 at the Opéra-Comique in Paris, the release stated. The four-act opera, featuring a libretto written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy and adapted from the novella by Prosper Mérimée, remains one of the most popular works in the repertoire. Now, nearly 150 years later, the story of Carmen has been adapted again through a graphic novel.
Clover Press, a San Diego-based publisher of comics and art books, will publish “Carmen: The Graphic Novel,” adapted as a graphic novel by tenor, director and writer Alek Shrader, with layout and page design by P. Craig Russell, illustrations by Aneke Murillenem and lettering by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.
“It is a thrill for Arizona Opera to share the work of this remarkable team of artists through the graphic novel format and the timeless story of Carmen,” said Joseph Specter, Arizona Opera’s president and general director. “Throughout the pandemic, our company constantly pursued novel approaches to connecting people through opera, when people need art and meaning the most. ‘Carmen: The Graphic Novel’ represents an amazing opportunity to extend that focus on innovation, impact and community.”
The graphic novel is the passion project of Shrader, the release stated, well known for his appearance in The Audition, a documentary about the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, now known as the Laffont Competition.
For his first graphic novel, Shrader collaborated with the New York Times bestselling illustrator P. Craig Russell, who is renowned for his graphic novel adaptations of Neil Gaiman’s novels and his acclaimed adaptations of opera, including Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci and Wagner’s Ring Cycle.
For “Carmen: The Graphic Novel,” Russell provided the layouts, which are finished, illustrated and colored by Murillenem, who has drawn for DC Comics and Marvel.
The development of “Carmen: The Graphic Novel” originated through Arizona Opera’s OnPitch Business Challenge, created in association with ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the W. P. Carey School of Business as well as Arizona Opera’s Funding Innovations Task Force.
Funding for OnPitch was made possible by an Innovation Grant from Opera America, through the generous support of the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation. Opera America’s Innovation Grants support exceptional projects that have the capacity to improve the vibrancy of opera in the field’s most important areas of practice, with a focus on empowering organizations to increase their investment in experimentation and innovation and contribute to field-wide learning.
“Carmen: The Graphic Novel” was a successful campaign on Kickstarter, which was fully funded in fewer than three days and doubled its goal over the course of the campaign.
“This project first came to our attention on Kickstarter,” Clover Press Publisher Hank Kanalz said in the release. “I’m a big fan of P. Craig Russell’s work and have his previous opera adaptations. So, what started as a purchase for my private collection became a publishing partnership with Arizona Opera for the book itself.”