Maurice Sendak, “Diorama of Moishe scrim and flower proscenium (Where the Wild Things Are)” (1979-1983) watercolor, pen and ink, and graphite pencil on laminated paperboard (© The Maurice Sendak Foundation. The Morgan Library & Museum, bequest of Maurice Sendak) (photography by Graham Haber, 2018; image courtesy the Morgan Library and Museum)

Whether through bedtime storytelling sessions or big-budget movie adaptations scored by Arcade Fire, children around the world grow up on the work of Where the Wild Things Are author and illustrator Maurice Sendak. In addition to his most famous book, he also illustrated Else Holmelund Minarik’s Little Bear children’s series and even briefly worked with Jim Henson on Sesame Street, but an exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York focuses on Sendak’s other passions: the opera and ballet.

When he was alive, Sendak called theater his “second career.” In addition to his countless published illustrations, he created stage designs for famous operas like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen, Sergei Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges, and a one-act adaptation of his own Where the Wild Things Are. The storyboards, preparatory sketches, costume studies, watercolors, and dioramas for these sets are on view at the Morgan Library and Museum through October 6, 2019, in the exhibition Drawing the Curtain: Maurice Sendak’s Designs for Opera and Ballet. This week, the museum will host an evening presentation of Sendak’s iconic images, complete with live operatic performances as well.

The event, “Behind the Scenes: Maurice Sendak’s Designs for Opera,” begins at 6:30 pm on Friday, September 27, at the museum. It will feature Christopher Mattaliano, the former general director of the Portland Opera, in conversation about his collaborations with Sendak and the opera director Frank Corsaro. Selections of Sendak’s work will accompany the talk, and live performances of select arias from The Magic Flute by the baritone Patrick McNally and soprano Lindsay Ohse will round out the evening. This is a ticketed event, costing $20 for non-members of the museum, $15 for members. Admission to the Drawing the Curtain exhibition will be included with the price of the ticket. Not a bad Friday night.

When: Friday, September 27, 6:30 pm
Where: The Morgan Library & Museum (225 Madison Avenue, Murray Hill, Manhattan)

Eric Vilas-Boas is the former managing editor of Hyperallergic. He has previously worked at Thrillist, Esquire, SPIN,, and his writing has appeared at Vulture, Slashfilm, Lit Hub, Paste,...