Radar: Ben Okri, Rufus Wainwright's Prima Donna, Jill Barber at Dakota Nights for War Child, Roddy Doyle, Magician Asi Wind

BOOKS AND LIT | An Evening with Ben Okri
The Luminato festival has turned its focus on Africa this year, and has brought one of the greatest living authors from the continentas to our city. Chief among them is Ben Okri, a truly original writer who has combined the folklore of his native Nigeria with a global perspective to create such masterpieces of modern fiction as The Famished Road, and most recently the novel Tales of Freedom. Okri's talent can't be understated; he is possibly the most innovative writer of his generation and his visit to Toronto tonight as part of This Is Not a Reading Series is a rare opportunity for the city's bookish types to experience a brush with greatness.
Al Green Theatre, 750 Spadina Avenue, $25, 7:30 pm

OPERA | Prima Donna
Modern opera is not the most accessible of genres, but if there's any songwriter who could pull off the soaring melodies and pathos required to make a contemporary classic, it's Rufus Wainwright. The romantic pianist has long been a fan of opera, and after forging a successful career as a theatrical singer-songwriter he's finally decided to pen one of his own. Prima Donna is the story of a fictional soprano living in Paris in the 1970s who quits the stage just after reaching the peak of her career. The opera debuted in the UK last year, and makes its North American debut tonight as part of Luminato with British soprano Janis Kelly starring in the title role. Runs til June 19.
Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge Street, $50 - $200, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 7:30 pm

MUSIC | Jill Barber: Dakota Nights for War Child
Toronto-born singer Jill Barber doesn't spend much time in the city these days, having left long ago to pursue her career out of first Halifax and now Vancouver. Her sultry voice is a throwback to the jazzy nightclub acts of the 1930s, and is best experienced in a small venue like the Dakota Tavern, where she'll be performing tonight to raise money for War Child Canada, an organization currently working on three continents to provide war-affected children with education and an escape from poverty.
The Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Avenue, $35, 8 pm

BOOKS AND LIT | An Evening with Roddy Doyle
Roddy Doyle has made a career telling the stories of working class citizens in his native Ireland. The author of The Commitments and The Snapper (both of which were turned into successful films) has returned to his favourite subject in his new book The Dead Republic, which tells the history of 20th century Ireland through the eyes of a Dubliner returning home after a soul-destroying stint in Hollywood. Doyle's in town tonight to read from the book and discuss his work as part of Luminato's literary program.
Jane Mallet Theatre, 27 Front Street East, $25, 7:30 pm

MAGIC | An Evening with Asi Wind
I'm not sure if anyone can ever take magicians seriously again after GOB Bluth, but if there's any respectability left in the profession Asi Wind is the man to provide it. The soft-spoken Wind is reportedly one of the hottest acts in New York City, with ringing endorsements from famous names like Woody Allen and Whoopi Golbderg, and is the inventor of several mind-bending tricks with dollar bills. He must drive his accountant crazy.
Trane Studio, 964 Bathurst Street, $25, 8 pm

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Photo: "Eglinton, Bus, Lines" by neilta, member of the blogTO Flickr Pool.

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