Four Fun and Engaging Storytime Videos
about Opera-Loving Animals
Meet a cat and a dog who both sing opera and a mouse who works at the world-renowned Metropolitan Opera House. The stories are brought to life by talented artists from our community including an opera singer and a professional football player!
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The Books and Readers
Written by Tess Weaver | Illustrated by Andréa Wesson
Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002
Alma the cat lives with Madame SoSo, an opera diva. When Madame rehearses, Alma softly sings along. Madame doesn’t know Alma’s secret – in fact, she doesn’t pay Alma much attention at all. But on the night of the big performance, Madame comes down with laryngitis . . . and at last Alma is given a chance to prove she is no ordinary animal.
Guest Reader: Andrea Lett
Born in Saskatchewan, but making her home in Winnipeg now, soprano Andrea Lett has performed on a number of stages across North America including for Manitoba Opera multiple times, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Saskatoon Opera, Manitoba Underground Opera, as well as covering roles for the opera companies of Edmonton, Santa Fe, and San Francisco. She was also featured recently in a national video project: Messiah/Complex.
Awards include the CBC Young Artist’s Development Prize, Audience Choice Award in the 2018 COC Center Stage Gala, and first prize in the 2018 Women’s Musical Club McLellan Competition.
Andrea is a graduate of the Opera School at the University of Toronto (M. Mus Opera) and holds a B. Mus Perf from the University of Manitoba.
During the pandemic she has homeschooled her five-year-old stepson and now is proud to say that she can sing the theme song from SpongeBob SquarePants from memory.
Encore, Opera Cat
Written by Tess Weaver | Illustrated by Andréa Wesson
Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2009
Alma is a cat who lives in Milan and loves opera. And she isn’t just an aficionado; she is a magnificent singer herself.
Nobody knows about Alma’s talent except Madame Soso, the famous opera diva with whom she lives. Alma longs to share the spotlight with her owner and let the whole world know her secret. But she has sung on stage only once – and she was hidden the entire time. Besides, no one would want to listen to a cat sing about love. Or would they?
Guest Reader: Stephanie Sy
Stephanie Sy (she/her) is a Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg-born theatre/film actor and producer. Her career began on stage, predominantly in musical theatre, working across Canada and the U.S.
Selected theatre credits include the first national tour of We Will Rock You and Next to Normal (Mirvish/Musical Stage Company/Dora Mavor Moore Award Nominee); Vietgone (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre); Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (Rainbow Stage); and world premieres of Prairie Nurse by Marie Beath Badian (Blyth Festival), Prom Queen by Akiva Romer-Segal, Colleen Dauncey, Kent Staines (Segal Centre), and Bad Parent by Ins Choi (Prairie Theatre Exchange/Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre).
Since 2016, Stephanie has transitioned her focus to film and television with credits including Seance (HanWay Films/Buffalo Gal Pictures/Dark Castle Entertainment); Nobody (Universal Pictures); Burden of Truth (CBC); Ann Rule’s a House on Fire, Welcome to Sudden Death, and Fractured (Netflix); Tales from the Loop (Amazon Prime); Sweet Autumn and Love in the Alps, (Hallmark); and Breakthrough (Sony Pictures).
Stephanie enjoys mountain biking, her 2004 RAV4, her loud family, and her roommates Matt, Labrador Billie, and cockapoo Pancake.
The Great Poochini
Written and Illustrated by Gary Clement
Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 1999
By day Signor Poochini is a dog, lying peacefully in his master’s living room and listening to music. But by night he is the Great Poochini, the most acclaimed singer in all of opera – dog opera, that is. One evening, a locked window threatens to keep Poochini from the opera house where his eager fans await. When a cat burglar appears, the disaster becomes Poochini’s opportunity to save both his mater’s house and his performance.
Guest Reader: Spencer Duncanson
An arts educator, performer, and opera singer, Spencer Duncanson is presently serving as Co-Founder/Artistic Director of The Little Opera Company. He is a member of the Board of Agassiz Chamber Music Festival, conductor of the senior division of the Winnipeg Boys’ Choir, and committee member of Manitoba Provincial Honour Choir.
His interest in arts education is evidenced by the many years dedicated to the arts within the Winnipeg School system and the broader community.
Pet of the Met
Written and Illustrated by Lydia and Don Freeman
Published by Penguin Group, 1953
Maestro Petrini is very lucky. He is the only mouse who works at the Metropolitan Opera House. The only danger is Mefisto, the opera house cat, who hates music – and mice! One day the Petrini family attends The Magic Flute and something happens to Mefisto that proves just how magical opera can be.
Guest Reader: Drew Wolitarsky
Drew Wolitarsky is a musician and professional athlete. He is currently a receiver with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and was a member of the team in 2019 when they won the Grey Cup.
He grew up in California and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor’s degree in English and fictional writing. While at college he also played with the Minnesota Golden Gophers football team.
Drew recently released music to all major streaming platforms under the name of “Drew William.”