Opera Preview: The Tales of Hoffman Wednesday, April 23, 7 p.m.

musicnotesBy the mid-1870s Jacques Offenbach’s career as “The King of Operetta” was over. In addition he was ill and getting worse. Yet he wanted to write a full-length “real opera” before he died. The result was “The Tales of Hoffman”, a 3 act fantasy opera based on stories of E.T.A. Hoffmann. Offenbach lavished some of the most beautiful and imaginative melodies he ever wrote on Olympia, the “Mechanical Doll”, or Antonia, the consumptive soprano who sings herself to death, or the basso-devil who uses a magic diamond to steal the souls of his victims. Sadly, Hoffman died four months before the first performance of his Tales of Hoffman in 1881 and did not live to see its world-wide success which continues to this day.
Sponsored by the Friends of the Mercer Island Library.

Opera Preview: The Consul by Gian Carlo Menotti, Wednesday, Feb. 12th, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, February 12, 7pm

Presented by Norm Hollingshead.
Italian-American Gian Carlo Menotti  (1911-2007) was one of the most prolific (and popular) opera composers of the last half of the 20th Century with more than two dozen operas to his credit, written over an almost 50 year span. The Consul is set in an unnamed totalitarian country in the mid-20th Century. It is a grim story of Cold War politics, in which Magda Sorel, the embattled wife of a political fugitive, tries to keep herself, her infant child, and her aged mother-in law alive as her husband evades the secret police. Her only hope is to receive an all-important visa from the Consul, but to do that she must surmount a bureaucratic nightmare. In Act 3, help is finally on the way, but will it be too late for Magda? Sponsored by Friends of the Mercer Island Library.

Opera Preview: Rigoletto. Wednesday, January 6th, 7 p.m.

Please join our host Norm Hollingshead for a discussion of Rigoletto. Not only is the dramatic story told by music that combines gripping power with imperishable tunes but also, for the first time, Verdi’s huge heart was revealed to his public. In Rigoletto, music and drama combine in a way that has captured the heart of opera audiences for more than 160 years. Don’t miss it! Sponsored by the Friends of the Mercer Island Library.

Opera Preview: Daughter of the Regiment. October 16th

Presented by Norm Hollingshead
Wednesday, October 16, 7pm
Mercer Island Library

When Gaetano Donizetti, the reigning “King of Italian Opera”,
moved to Paris in 1839, opera lovers wondered if he would be
able to succeed in the “Operatic Capital of the World”.
Donizetti responded a year later with his first French opera, the comic
romp Daughter of the Regiment. It was a smash hit then and continued
to be so for decades. In the 20th Century, though, it fell into the shade,
only returning to the spotlight in the early 1970s when Luciano Pavarotti
dazzled audiences with the 9 High C’s in his famous Act I aria.
Since then, Daughter of the Regiment has charged back into popularity as audiences
have grown to love the lovely melodies and zany comedy of this wonderful piece.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Mercer Island Library.

Opera Previews: The Ring of the Nibelungen by Richard Wagner Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Starts June 25

The Ring of the Nibelungen ring-of-firewas first performed in its entirety at Bayreuth in the summer of 1876. The world had seen nothing like it-a music/drama cycle of incredible scope-four complete operas in four nights with 16 hours of performing time. That should have put off opera audiences used to a single opera and 3 hours running time. Instead Wagner’s Ring has fascinated opera audiences, more now than ever, especially in Seattle.

Norm Hollingshead will offer the following previews:

Tuesday, June 25, 7pm: Das Rheingold

Tuesday, July 9, 7pm: Die Walkure

Tuesday, July 16, 7pm: Siegfried

Tuesday, July 23, 7pm: Gotterdammerung

Sponsored by the Friends of the Mercer Island Library.



Opera Previews: La Boheme

Wednesday, February 20, 7pm
Presented by Norm Hollingshead.
Giacomo Puccini is the most popular opera composer of our time. Almost all of his operas end sadly, but that seems to attract rather than repel

opera audiences around the world. His 4th opera, La Boheme, is the saddest of all. In this opera the deadly villain is not another human,

but rather poverty and disease. Puccini’s genius at finding just the right melody to depict the happiness and heartache

of the doomed couple, Mimi and Rodolfo,draws sell-out crowds wherever it is performed.

Sponsored by the Mercer Island Friends of the Library.

La Boheme

Opera Preview for “The Magic Flute” on Wednesday, May 4th at 7:00 PM

Tamino and Pamina undergo their final trial; watercolor by Max Slevogt (1868–1932) (Source: Wikipedia)

Date and Time: Wednesday, May 4, 7 p.m.

Location: Mercer Island Library, 4400 88th Avenue SE, Mercer Island, Washington

Cost: Free

Get ready for the Seattle Opera‘s upcoming performances of “The Magic Flute” with a deeper understanding and appreciation for Mozart‘s masterpiece by joining opera expert Norm Hollingshead for a lecture featuring musical excerpts.

In late 1791 Mozart needed a ‘big hit’ to pay off some pressing debts. He got it with his ‘Magic Flute,’ popular from it’s opening night on September 20. Sadly Mozart did not live to enjoy ‘The Magic Flute’s profits, dying on December 5, at the age of 35. ‘The Magic Flute’ has everything an opera audience loves: low comedy, high drama, a handsome prince, a beautiful princess, a wise sorcerer, a wicked sorceress, dazzling high notes, and beautiful melodies.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Mercer Island Library.

The Friends of the Mercer Island Library to Honor Ted Rand

Ted Rand, best known to Islanders for his children’s book illustrations, will be honored October 23rd at 1:00 PM at the Mercer Island Library when a framed watercolor for the book Salt Hands is unveiled by the Friends of the Mercer Island Library.

“The Friends have been looking for a way to acknowledge Ted’s contributions to his craft and his community for a couple of years,” said Suzanne Sanderson, Friends member who was responsible for finding the painting. And it was a bit of a search. “We had been told that there was no original artwork available, but were fortunate to discover this one when it came on the market.”

A professional graphic designer who took up children’s book illustrating at a time in his life when most people are planning retirement travel, Rand had 80 books to his credit before he died in 2005 at age 89. Among them were the popular Salty Dog series, Home for Spooky and The Baby in the Basket, all of which were done in partnership with his wife, Gloria, herself an accomplished author of at least 15 children’s books, all of them full of Rand’s watercolors, many of which will be on display the day of the dedication. Several of their books will be on display the day of the dedication.

Rand distinguished himself as a graphics artist with work that appeared in The New Yorker, Life, Encyclopedia Britannica, but he also was commissioned for portraits of Washington notables such as John Spellman, Dorothy Bullitt and Charles Odegaard. He taught graphic illustration at the University of Washington for 22 years.

The Friends chose to honor Rand not only for his contributions to children’s literature, but also for his giving-back ethic. He cast a wide net over many Island organizations, giving freely of his graphic expertise. He juried shows for the Mercer Island Visual Arts League, provided promotional materials for the City’s Mercerversary celebration in 1976 and designed logos for several Island organizations.

Free Museum Passes Through KCLS!

KCLS has partnered with area museums to offer free museum passes.
Register online by following these easy steps:

1. Select the museum of your choice & click “Free Pass”
2. Choose the date of your choice & enter your information to register.
3. Print your email confirmation, which serves as your admission ticket.
4. Take your email confirmation to the museum when you visit.

Register for your free museum pass up to two weeks in advance of the day you plan to visit. Online registration opens at 10am daily. Passes are good for general admission and are limited to one per family.

If you do not have an email address, call the Bellevue Library at 425.450.1765 to register.

Bellevue Arts Museum: Free pass

510 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, WA 98004 – 425.519.0770
Explore the Pacific Northwest’s center of art, craft and design.

This pass allows one entry for two people, and is valid for three days from the registration date.

Reserve your museum pass to the Bellevue Arts Museum through our online calendar. Check Museum website for Open Hours

Bellevue Arts Musuem

KidsQuest Children’s Museum: Free Pass

4091 Factoria Boulevard Southeast, Bellevue, WA 98006 – 425.637.8100
Explore, play and learn at KidsQuest Children’s Museum.

This pass allows entry for up to 4 people and is valid for use on the registration date.

Reserve your museum pass to the KidsQuest Children’s Museum through our online calendar.


Museum of History and Industry: Free Pass

2700 24th Avenue E, Seattle, WA 98112 – 206.324.1126
Explore the diverse history of Seattle, the Puget Sound region and the nation.

This pass allows entry for two people and is valid for use on the registration date.

Reserve your museum pass to the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) through our online calendar.Check Museum web site for Open Hours The first Thursday of the month is always free, so no pass is necessary.


Washington State History Museum: Free Pass

1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402 – 1.888.238.4373
Learn about our state’s unique people and places.

This museum pass allows entry for up to 2 adults and 4 children and is valid for use on the registration date.

Reserve your museum pass to the Washington State History Museum through our online calendar. Check Museum for web site for Open Hours. Museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Washington State History Museum