A Nut At The Opera (Cover)
Drawn and Quarterly 2006
Graphic artist Maurice Vellekoop, a contributor to just about every major North American magazine in the last two decades, describes his latest book-length work as a tribute to his late mentor and friend, Paul Baker, who taught Vellekoop at the Ontario College of Art in the early 1980s. Baker introduced the suburban Vellekoop to many of the city’s joys, including a trip to the opera. Baker loved all things operatic – the music, the costumes, the larger-than-life personalities of the performers – a love that his young protégé soon adopted.
Over the years, Vellekoop paid homage to his mentor and their shared passion with a series of birthday and Christmas cards he created for Baker, each showcasing an imaginary opera star conceived and drawn by Vellekoop. A Nut at the Opera collects these illustrations, along with the brief, witty bios of his imagined stars.
The antics of Vellekoop’s divas and divos don’t seem any more ridiculous than anything from the pages of a typical celebrity tabloid, but they are further enlivened by the emotional and aesthetic excesses associated with an artform known for its flamboyance. An appreciation for flamboyance and camp is a necessity for enjoying Vellekoop’s candy-coloured caricatures, but this love letter to a friend also makes for a gentle introduction for the operaphobic. -James Grainger