Cooperstown

Sasha Matson
We Are Vocal
Fringe Online
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Cooperstown

Although Cooperstown is listed on the Edfringe web site under “Musicals and Opera (jazz, event)”, that is slightly misleading.

The 65-minute production comes with what is effectively a static screen, i.e. as the producers’ name We Are Vocal hints, this is an audio recording with patchy but generally helpful subtitles.

Cooperstown, like Porgy and Bess, is a fusion of opera and jazz that proves surprisingly effective in this relatively condensed version. Those who enjoy the experience will discover that they can download or purchase physical recordings that run to both one hour 20 minutes and 1¾ hours.

Baseball has long been a good source of material for novelists and filmmakers and the plot here will seem familiar to aficionados of the genre. Split into nine innings, the opera starts with introductions to a fading star who is about to join the ranks of has-beens and Angel, the 20-year-old tyro looking to take his crown.

No baseball story would be complete without young love foundering on the rocks and, in this case, jealousy borrowed from Othello inevitably impinges. Equally inevitable is a frenetic ninth inning in which love and a championship pennant for the Bluebirds are both on the line.

The music is attractive, the storyline enticing and the singing of good quality. There is also a vein of humour in both the music and the text. The only thing that is missing from an enjoyable production is the visual element, which would greatly enhance the experience.

Perhaps next year, someone will bring a full-scale operatic production or even a semi-staged version to Edinburgh either in person or online? It would certainly be welcome.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher