Fun Facts about The Haberdasher Prince

By: Greg Campbell

Published on:

Lyric Opera of Kansas City is thrilled for the world premiere performances of our new family opera The Haberdasher Prince on April 6! Written by composer Rosabella Gregory and librettist Dina Gregory, The Haberdasher Prince is a fairytale and tells the story of a prince with a passion for fashion, a talented village girl, and a taste of trickery! (In case these words are new to you, a composer writes the music, and a librettist writes the words—they work closely together to bring the opera to life!) Designed to engage intergenerational audiences, The Haberdasher Prince will tour community spaces in Kansas City throughout the month of April. Click here to view the schedule, learn more, and make reservations to see the show!

So… what is a haberdasher? Continue reading to find out the answer to this burning question and more!


In British English, a haberdasher is a business or person who sells small articles for sewing, dressmaking, and knitting—such as buttons, ribbons, and zippers! In American English, the term refers to a men’s clothing store the sells suits, shirts, neckties, dress shoes, and other items. (Thanks, Wikipedia!) In the story of The Haberdasher Prince, Prince Panderbash (PAN-dur-bash) gets this name because instead of doing what he’s supposed be to doing (playing an instrument… more on this later), he secretly collects strips of cloth and fashions them into fabulous costumes.

A sketch of Prince Panderbash’s cape, by costume designer Nancy Robinson.

Source Material

The Haberdasher Prince is based on an Audible Original (audio book) of the same name by Dina Gregory. Listen to the short story on Amazon or on Dina’s website and see if you notice any parallels the Danish folktale The Emperor’s New Clothes. The short story is four minutes long, and the opera is almost an hour—this is a wonderful example of how an opera can expand a story and amplify its emotions and depth!

Librettist Dina Gregory (left) and composer Rosabella Gregory (right) in rehearsal. Fun fact: they are twin sisters!


At the center of the opera is a fictional instrument called the gilrabi (gill-RAH-bee), modeled after the sarod. King Hamluk (HAM-luuk) is a master of this instrument and wants nothing more than for his son Prince Panderbash to follow suit. The problem is that Panderbash has no musical talent whatsoever and yearns to follow his true dream—designing clothes. In the opera, we never see the gilrabi and it is instead represented in voice by four singers. According to the opera’s creators, the gilrabi has four strings made of silver and steel; the whole instrument is carved out of a single block of tun wood; it has a round resonator and broad finger board; and the resonator is parched with fine membrane of goat skin. It is played by gliding one’s thumbnail on the string, like a talon!

Trunk Show

The Haberdasher Prince is a trunk show, meaning in our case that there are four trunks on stage holding costumes, props, and fun surprises that allow our singers to quickly transform into different characters. As mentioned previously, there are four singers in the show and each singer represents a string of the gilrabi with a distinct personality. As they don accessories from the trunks, they become in total over twenty characters to tell the story of The Haberdasher Prince!

Resident Artists Christine Boddicker, José Oliváres, Benjamin Ruiz, and Kelli Van Meter (left to right) in rehearsal under the direction of conductor Piotr Wiśniewski.

We hope these fun facts inspire you to see The Haberdasher Prince, appearing in twelve performances throughout the Kansas City metro April 6–23, 2024!