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canadian opera company

Hot Date: Midday Music at the Four Seasons Centre

photo by Karen Reeves

ON NOW Add some culture to your lunch break courtesy of the Canadian Opera Company’s free concert series. Every Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 1 p.m., the institution hosts a slate of exceptional performances ranging from small dance productions, piano recitals, world music, vocal jazz and more, including notable upcoming shows like East Meets West (January 19), featuring artists of the COC Orchestra performing works by Debussy and Tan Dun, and a vocal recital by COC talents Russell Braun, Erin Wall and Krisztina Szabó (February 16). Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre; call 416-363-8231 or click here for more information.

Hot Date: The Sublime Tragedy of Rigoletto

Rigoletto character sketch by costume designer Michael Levine

SEPTEMBER 29 TO OCTOBER 22 One of Giuseppe Verdi’s most remarkable works returns to the stage in a new production by the Canadian Opera Company. The three-act Rigoletto presents the tragic tale of a court jester who seeks to avenge his daughter after she is seduced and deceived by a cold-hearted duke. Yet, despite his best efforts, the poor fool stands to lose all that matters to him. Featuring both established and rising opera stars, the COC’s staging is set to entertain and enthrall in equal measure, thanks to Verdi’s beloved arias and a heartrending libretto inspired by a Victor Hugo play. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $12 to $318; call 416-363-8231 or visit here for showtimes and tickets.

Weekend Roundup, September 23 to 25

Friday: See Bryan Baeumler and other design and renovation experts this weekend at the Fall Home Show

Friday, September 23
Pick up tips and tricks for your next home improvement venture at the Fall Home Show. The Better Living Centre at Exhibition Place hosts this year’s weekend-long event where vendors and design experts—including HGTV’s Bryan Baeumler—showcase the latest products in home design.

Let’s go Leafs! Celebrate the return of hockey season with exhibition games at the Air Canada Centre. The Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Buffalo Sabres tonight in exciting pre-season action.

Shop for vintage and independent designs at The Clothing Show held at the Queen Elizabeth Building, Exhibition Place. The three day event features over 300 booths from sample sales to local Canadian designers guaranteed to be a fun shopping experience.

Saturday: Chess the Musical brings '80s music and politics back to the stage

Saturday, September 24
See the critically acclaimed Chess the Musical today at the Princess of Wales Theatre. A world chess competition, a love triangle, and the Cold War are all plot elements in this lively musical, fresh from its sold-out tour of the U.K.

Listen to Emmy-nominated comedian and political commentator Bill Maher at Massey Hall. He is best known for his satirical opinions on current events and his HBO show Real Time.

Enjoy the opening of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra‘s 90th season with special guest Christopher Plummer. The Canadian actor narrates classic Shakespeare accompanied by the TSO at Roy Thompson Hall.

Sunday: Iphigenia in Tauris offers high drama

Sunday, September 25
Broaden your horizons with the Canadian Opera Company‘s rendition of Iphigenia in Tauris. This dramatic opera featuring Susan Graham—the world’s foremost Iphigenia—opens the company’s 61st season.

Laugh at the outrageous Kathy Griffin as she performs a stand-up routine that’s packed with appropriately catty commentary and celebrity gossip. Of course, the self-proclaimed D-List comedienne is an equal opportunity insulter—she readily draws on her own hilarious experiences, too, in her show at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.

What’s the The Word on The Street? It’s a free festival celebrating literacy by featuring authors, editors, publishers and other exhibitors. As one would expect from such a major book and magazine fair, there is also a wide range of Canadian literature and periodicals for purchase.

Hot Date: Iphigenia’s Operactic Opener

Susan Graham in Iphigenia in Tauris

SEPTEMBER 22 TO OCTOBER 15 The dramatic voice of world-leading mezzo-soprano Susan Graham opens the new season of the Canadian Opera Company in Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Iphigenia in Tauris. Director Robert Carsen’s production of this lyrical tragedy has been acclaimed in London, Chicago and Madrid, and also features performances from Canadian opera stars Russell Braun and Joseph Kaiser. With a refined score and an emotional twist, it’s sure to emulate the success of the COC’s recent spring engagement of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $45 to $318; call 416-363-8231 or visit here for showtimes and tickets.

Weekend Roundup, May 20th to 22nd

Friday: Gluck's Orfeo is enthralling (photo by Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago)

Friday, May 20
Follow the critics’ raves to the Four Seasons Centre, where the Canadian Opera Company stages the heart-wrenching Orfeo ed Euridice. Compsed by Christoph Willibald Gluck, this opera tells of Orfeo who, after losing his beloved Euridice, literally goes to hell and back to find her.

Take a scenic drive west of Toronto to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, where two new plays begin previews. Shakespeare’s classic Richard III tells the dark story of a man trying to seize the English throne by dispatching all those who stand in his way. For something a little lighter, the Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Jesus Christ Superstar brings the story of Judas Iscariot to life through rock opera.

Running to May 29, Inside Out, the 21st annual Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival, screens throughout the city. Tonight at 9:30 p.m. (at the TIFF Bell Lightbox), catch Bloomington, a story about a television actress who begins to question her sexuality while trying to lead a normal life as a freshman at Bloomington University.

Saturday: See Aussie troupe Circa among many other acts at Harbourfront Centre (photo by Leif Norman)

Saturday, May 21
Celebrate the weekend at Harbourfront Centre, which hosts the Toronto International Circus Festival, a three-day event beginning today and featuring extraordinary circus artists from the around the world. Catch eye-popping acrobats, gravity-defying rope walkers, fire-eaters, clowns and much more.

What’s black and white and coming back to the Toronto Zoo? Endangered African Penguins! The zoo’s new 6,000-square-foot penguin exhibit opens today with a state-of-the-art underwater viewing area so you can come face to face with the penguins.

Also starting today, the Alice in Wonderland experience takes over Black Creek Pioneer Village with events like a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, a “Through the Looking Glass” Maze and the Queen of Hearts’ Field of Games. Families can also enjoy all that the historic village has to offer, including farm animals, Victorian dancing lessons, and the interactive history centre.

Sunday: See cosmopolitan indie artist Lykke Li at the Phoenix (photo by SpoiltCat)

Sunday, May 22
The unique sounds of alternative rock-pop artist Lykke Li pervade the Phoenix Concert Theatre on tonight. Influenced by her nomadic past—having lived in Portugal, Sweden, India and New York City—Li’s quirky use of harpsichords, flutes and Theremins makes her music all the more mesmerizing.

The Kids’ World Energy Festival wraps up today at the Evergreen Brick Works, with family-friendly activities focusing on renewable energy, climate change and the science of energy. Together, parents and kids can learn what they can do to contribute to a sustainable future.

Celebrate the long Victoria Day weekend by catching some fireworks. Weather permitting, Canada’s Wonderland offers a show starting at 10 p.m., or make your way to Ashbridge’s Bay on Monday at 9:45 p.m. for a dazzling display of lights over Lake Ontario.

Hot Date: The Trials of Orpheus

Photo by Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago

MAY 8 TO 28 The Canadian Opera Company welcomes back Toronto-born director Robert Carsen, who brings his acclaimed production of Orfeo ed Euridice to this city. The popular work by Christoph Willibald Gluck follows mythic Orfeo, who travels to hell and back in search of his beloved Euridice. Renowned American countertenor Lawrence Zazzo and Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian perform the lead roles of this star-crossed story of loss and redemption. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $62 to $281; call 416-363-8231 or visit here for showtimes and tickets.

Hot Date: Cinderella with a Twist

Photo by Brett Coomer

APRIL 23 TO MAY 25 Young and old are sure
to be enchanted by a musical take on the classic Cinderella story—with a comedic twist—as
the Canadian Opera Company stages La Cenerentola. Gioacchino Rossini’s Italian opera buffa tells of beautiful Angelina, who lives as a slave to the pompous Don Magnifico and his two daughters until an act of generosity changes her fate. Designed by the innovative Spanish theatre troupe Els Comediants, and featuring renowned tenor Lawrence Brownlee and mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong, this vibrant and ever-entertaining production inspires love and laughter among the entire audience. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $12 to $281; call 416-363-8231 or click here for showtimes and tickets.

Hot Dates: Magic Flute Conjures Melodies

Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian stars in the COC's Magic Flute (photo by Michael Agyan)

JANUARY 29 TO FEBRUARY 25 Fall in love all over again with the majestic music and timeless sorcery-tinged tale of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. A brand-new production by the Canadian Opera Company starring Michael Schade and Isabel Bayrakdarian as would-be lovers Tamino and Pamina, this playfully mystical exploration of wisdom, nature and devotion is sure to delight both seasoned opera fans and newcomers to the genre. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $22 to $281; call 416-363-8231 or click here for showtimes and to purchase tickets.

Weekend Roundup, November 5 to 7

The seasons are a-changing! Don’t miss these final fall performances or the first winter productions.

Friday: Marvel at the Merchants of Bollywood

Friday, November 5th
Don’t miss the Canadian Opera Company’s final performance of Aida tonight. Giuseppe Verdi’s masterpiece tells the tale of forbidden love between an Egyptian king and an Ethiopian slave. After a well-attended run at the Four Seasons Centre, this production closes on a high note.

It’s the opening night of Merchants of Bollywood! This extravagant performance pays tribute to India’s show business, past and present, in an extravagant musical. With 3,800 costumes and 2,000 pieces of jewellery, this performance has all the glamour of Mumbai’s Film City.

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair returns this weekend! Catch a rodeo, browse giant vegetables, see the livestock and more at this Toronto tradition. It’s happening at Exhibition Place, all weekend long.

Saturday: See Allegra Fulton in The List (photo by Robert Popkin)

Saturday, November 6th
Nightwood Theatre’s critically acclaimed play, The List, wraps up tonight. The unique show tells the story of a woman who forgets an item on her to-do list, with tragic results.

Tickle your funny bone at the 2010 Sketch Comedy Festival, featuring more than 40 comedy troupes from North America. At venues throughout the city, this wacky event is sure to have you laughing all the way to next week.

Make it a girl’s weekend at the National Women’s Show! The Metro Convention Centre hosts more than 450 vendors and service providers featuring products geared toward the gentler sex. And let’s not forget, there’s also wine sampling, cooking demos, fashion shows and free makeovers!

Sunday: Fall in love with Acis and Galatea

Sunday, November 7th
Get out your helmets, shoulder pads and pig skin: the National Football League makes its now annual northerly trek as part of the Bills Toronto Series! Today at the Rogers Centre, the Buffalo Bills battle the Chicago Bears for gridiron glory. Be sure to join the Budweiser tailgate party prior to the game!

The witty, romantic—and ultimately tragic—opera Acis and Galatea takes its final bow this afternoon. The tale of a water nymph who falls in love with a mortal is sure to have you swooning, thanks to Handel’s pastoral music and the elegant staging by Opera Atelier.

Celebrate the Day of the Dead at the Harbourfront Centre! This Mexican tradition brings families together to remember departed ancestors. See live music and dance performances, watch films and peruse the marketplace. Be sure to try the pan de muerto, or Day of the Dead bread.

Weekend Roundup, October 15 to 17

Scream, laugh, marvel and applaud! There are many performances to see this weekend!

Friday: Applaud for Aida (photo by Michael Cooper)

Friday, October 15
Be afraid, be very afraid; The Halloween tradition Screemers returns to Exhibition Place! With  terrifying attractions like the Haunted House and Maniac Maze—plus a licensed Vampire Lounge—even the bravest are sure to feel chills!

The Canadian Opera Company’s Aida continues to engage audiences at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. This new production of Verdi’s masterpiece tells the tale of forbidden love between an Egyptian king and an Ethiopian slave, as war and a jealous Egyptian princess tear the two apart. In the title role, soprano Sondra Radvanovsky gives a stunning performance.

Don’t miss Out of Context—For Pina—after garnering rave reviews in Europe, this innovative contemporary dance production makes its Toronto debut at Harbourfront Centre. Choreographer Alain Platel uses body language to communicate emotion; the result is raw and deeply moving.

Saturday: Be moved by Joseph Ziegler in Death of a Salesman (photo by Bruce Zinger)

Saturday, October 16
Head to the Drake Hotel for its annual Fall Market! With unique vintage items, handmade knitwear, fresh flowers, baked goods and free gifts, there’s definitely something for everyone.

The Planet in Focus International Environmental Film and Video Festival continues through the weekend, with a slate of films that strive to enlighten audiences about eco-issues and encourage discussion on the state of the environment. Catch such anticipated films as Land of Destiny in various theatres across the city.

Arthur Miller’s classic play Death of a Salesman opens tonight at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. Talented Soulpepper Theatre founders Joseph Ziegler and Nancy Palk take to the stage as Willy and Linda Loman. Don’t miss this production of this masterpiece of America theatre!

Sunday: Find a brunch-time seat at the Roosevelt Room

Sunday, October 17
Gather at the Roosevelt Room this morning for “The Breakfast Club,” the swanky venue’s monthly brunch party! Featuring a filling prix fixe menu, beats by DJ Jacques Dumas and plenty of champagne to go around, it’s breakfast done decadently right.

Yuk it up at the Best of Canadian Comedy Awards, part of the Canada’s Walk of Fame Festival! See top Canadian comedians like Mary Walsh, Colin Mochrie, Members of the Royal Canadian Air Farce and more perform at the beautiful Winter Garden Theatre.

It’s your last chance to see the Textile Museum of Canada’s intriguing Person Place Thing exhibition. The works of three contemporary textile artists test the boundaries of their medium: Lia Cook examines faces in her large weavings, David R. Harper embroiders portraits on animal skins, and Stephen Schofield creates huge patchwork figures.

Hot Date: New Aida Debuts

Sondra Radvanovsky and Scott Hendricks in Aida (photo by Michael Cooper)

OCTOBER 2 TO NOVEMBER 5 The Canadian Opera Company opens its latest season with Aida, one of opera’s most spectacular stories. Giuseppe Verdi’s tour de force tells the tale of a forbidden love between an Egyptian king and an Ethiopian slave set against a backdrop of war, jealousy and political intrigue. With soprano Sondra Radvanovsky in the lead role and acclaimed director Tim Albery at the helm, this new production is sure to be a stunning affair. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $28 to $62; call 416-363-8231 or visit here for showtimes and to buy.

Hot Date: Royal Affair

A Dallas Opera Company production of Maria Stuarda (photo by Karen Almond)

MAY 1 TO 30 Delve into the dark intrigue of the Tudor court in Gaetano Donizetti’s thrilling Maria Stuarda, presented by the Canadian Opera Company. Seething with jealousy and thoughts of vengeance upon discovering that her beloved Earl of Leicester is in love with her cousin Mary Stuart, the Queen of Scotland, an enraged Queen Elizabeth issues a death warrant for her rival. Director Stephen Lawless and sopranos Serena Farnocchia and Alexandrina Pendatchanska bring Donizetti’s sumptuous melodies and rousing ensembles to life with dazzling acoustics in this bitter battle. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $62 to $292; call 416-363-8231 or click here to order and for showtimes.