Nicole Brook’s Obeah Opera is described as a “Nicole Brooks vision” which is probably a good starting point for an opera this isn’t. It’s an a capella stage piece with an all female cast, composed and taught to the performers orally and performed with mikes. If it resembles anything it’s a musical but really it’s a unique concept. It’s also clearly rooted in the oral traditions of African-American slavery and a kind of idealisation of the world they had left behind. For example, every slave women is a powerful sorceress from a long lineage rather as every Welshman is a gentleman who can trace his ancestry from King Arthur. It’s a musically rich and powerful tradition and this forms much the most effective element in the piece, especially as it’s where Brooks’ own talents and energy are most focussed.
Toronto Summer Music Festival has some interesting offerings. The opening night concert, Americans in Paris, features Measha Brueggergosman in works by Gershwin, Bolcom and copland as well as instrumental pieces. And pretty much closing the festival out is a Karita Mattila recital with Bryan Wagorn on piano, on August 7th in a recital that includes works by Strauss, Sibelius and Sallinen. Details at www.torontosummermusic.com.