I was fortunate enough to go to opening night of the new production, here in LA next to the Santa Monica Pier where it has been staged for many years. The theme is the life of insects, the smallest and most plentiful members of the animal kingdom. After about a half hour, I started to say to myself, “this music is very tropical, either Caribbean or maybe Brazilian. Earlier Cirque shows had great musicians performing live, the music was always theatrical but kind of generic. Not so with OVO. Later I find out that the music was written by a carioca, meaning a resident of Rio de Janeiro. His name is Berna Ceppas. I’d never heard of this guy, but he’s well known among musicians on the contemporary music scene in Rio for producing other bands as well as doing film and TV work.
Much of the Brazilian flavor in OVO comes from the regional styles of Pernambuco, the city of Recife and neighboring areas. Pernambucan frevo, forró, and maracatu are three popular styles that inspire his soundtrack. One song is called “Frevo Zumbido”. Then there is “Carimbó da Creatura”. Another is “Brisa do Mar” (ocean breeze) which may be based on an old Joao Donato song. Some songs are samba reggae, a hugely popular Bahian style. He riffs on other Northeastern styles such as Carimbó, inspired by the fact that the Amazon basin has more biodiversity than any place on earth, and of course teeming with insect life.
It’s a great new production and I loved the Brazilian sound of it because I love Brazilian music. Here is a short interview with Berna Ceppas.