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canadian opera company

Hot Date: Stormy Sailing

The Four Seasons Centre hosts The Flying Dutchman this month.

OPENS APRIL 24 Spring is a time of rebirth, and this month the Canadian Opera Company breathes new life into Richard Wagner’s haunting masterpiece, The Flying Dutchman. Watch as baritone Evgeny Nikitin embodies the role of the legendary title character, who is condemned by the devil to sail the seas until he can be redeemed by the love of a faithful woman. Director Christopher Alden originally teamed with the COC in 1996 to bring his iconoclastic interpretation of Dutchman to the stage; he returns to helm the German-language opus that is certain to move even the hardest of hearts. Four Seasons Centre, 7:30 p.m., $62 to $292; call 416-363-8231 or click here for tickets.

Hot Date: Opera’s Otello

Otello (photo by Catherine Ashmore).

FEBRUARY 3 TO 28 One of Shakespeare’s most heart-wrenching tragedies is given a musical treatment in performances of Otello by the Canadian Opera Company.
A magnificently demanding score by composer Giuseppe Verdi enhances the drama in this devastating tale of love and betrayal. For this revival, directed by Paul Curran and conducted by Paolo Olmi, seasoned tenor Clifton Forbis returns to the Toronto stage in the title role following an acclaimed run as Tristan in Tristan und Isolde at the Opera National de Paris. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $31 to $292; call 416-363-8231 or navigate here for times and tickets.

Hot Date: COC’s Carmen

Larissa Kostiuk in the COC's 2005 production of <em>Carmen<em> (photo by Michael Cooper)

The COC's 2005 production of Carmen (photo by Michael Cooper)

JANUARY 27 TO FEBRUARY 27 No one can dispute the enduring success of composer Georges Bizet’s final work, Carmen, perhaps the best-loved of all 19th-century operas. Set in Seville, Spain, this dramatic revival by the Canadian Opera Company tells of the rich culture of the gypsies and packs a plot riddled with sexual desire, moral ambiguity and a shocking finale. This passionate tale of obsession and love gone awry is sure to entertain. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $68 to $321; call 416-363-8231 or navigate here for times and tickets.

BONUS! On select weekdays, starting at noon, attend one-hour free performances in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, located within the Four Seasons Centre. The special program features concerts and dance recitals by established and up-and-coming artists.

You Are Here: Downtown Queen & Yonge

The city’s cultural hub boasts top theatres, restaurants and shopping—plus the fun, fast-paced feeling of being at the centre of it all.

Click on any map marker for more information on Where’s neighbourhood favourites.
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Fly to The Nightingale

Olga Peretyatko as the Nightingale and Ilya Bannik as the Emperor in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of <em>The Nightingale and Other Short Fables</em> (photo by Michael Cooper).

Olga Peretyatko as the Nightingale and Ilya Bannik as the Emperor in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of The Nightingale and Other Short Fables (photo by Michael Cooper).

Since the opening of the Four Seasons Centre in 2006, Canadian Opera Company performances have consistently comprised one of Toronto’s hottest cultural tickets. Not yet one month into its 2009-2010 season, the company has already drawn raves for its near-classic remounting of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (on now to November 3), and now that the critics have had their say about the company’s latest production, opera is once again the talk of this town.

Based on a number of early works by Igor Stravinsky, The Nightingale and Other Short Fables is the brainchild of Quebec director Robert Lepage, a master of visual storytelling who employs diverse media to create immersive theatrical environments.

And if there’s one word that captures The Nightingale experience both literally and figuratively, “immersive” is it. A 45-minute musical drama comprising the second half of the program, it tells of a songbird who is courted by the emperor of China, only to be replaced by a mechanical doppelgänger. But this being a Lepage production, there’s much more to it than a simple story: the action takes place in the Four Seasons Centre’s orchestra pit, which has been filled with 67,000 litres of water as well as the opera’s primary cast—including a radiant Olga Peretyatko as the title character—who not only sing in the pool, but also articulate richly detailed Japanese- and Chinese-style puppets to, as the director notes, “pull the poetry out of the libretto and the poetic ideas out the music.”

While this multi-layered set-piece is undoubtedly the evening’s highlight, it is capably preceded by a selection of other brief Stravinsky works that are equally satisfying, both musically and as performance art. Notable among them are the jaunty Ragtime— a piece for small orchestra (conducted, in this case, with aplomb by the Vancouver Opera’s Jonathan Darlington) that offers jazz-like motifs with distinctly Eastern grace notes—and a trio of song-stories expertly brought to visual life by a troupe of shadow puppeteers. Stravinsky’s allegory The Fox also employs shadow performers to great effect.

Though only two performances into its run, The Nightingale and Other Fables has garnered such buzz that its remaining scheduled dates are now sold out. Fortunately an encore show has just been added for November 2, 7:30 p.m. Act quickly to purchase by visiting the Canadian Opera Company’s website or the Four Seasons Centre box office (145 Queen St. W.), or call 416-363-8231. Tickets range from $20 to $292.

Weekend Roundup, September 25th to 27th

Many music ensembles are now launching their seasons, so take in some fresh concerts this weekend.

Friday: Step out to the AGO and ROM to see Edward Steichen's photograph of Princess Nathalie Paley and much more.

Friday: Step out to the AGO and ROM to see Edward Steichen's photograph of Princess Nathalie Paley and much more.

Friday, September 25th
Listen as Jean-Philippe Tremblay leads the Royal Conservatory Orchestra in a rendition of the sweet then rousing sounds of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, as part of the grand opening concert at the Royal Conservatory of Music’s new Koerner Hall performance venue.

Wipe away tears of laughter at the Toronto Improv Festival’s midnight show as audience-driven Road Trip and the MAYBE trio engage in ad hoc antics.

Admire some of the 20th century’s most ingenious and revolutionary celebrity and fashion photographs in two related exhibitions: Vanity Fair Portraits: Photographs 1913-2008 at the Royal Ontario Museum and Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, the Condé Nast Years, 1923-1937 at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Both highly anticipated shows open today.

Saturday: Sit in awe of Madama Butterfly's beautiful melodies.

Saturday: Sit in awe of Madama Butterfly's beautiful melody.

Saturday, September 26th
Lend your ears to the award-winning violinist Joshua Bell, who helps kick off the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s new season with an homage to the music of Johannes Brahms.

Roll out your mat and stretch into your favourite asana for morning yoga on the manicured grounds of Casa Loma. The session includes a concert by kirtan yoga band Guara Shakt post-sun salutation.

Be moved by the tragic love story between a geisha and a U.S. naval officer in the Canadian Opera Company’s opening performance of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

Sunday: Hear Margaret Atwood at the International Festival of Authors.

Sunday: Hear Margaret Atwood at the International Festival of Authors.

Sunday, September 27th
Sing along to “Octopus’s Garden” as Canadian artists belt out classic Beatles tunes in the Art of Time Ensemble’s special presentation of the Fab Four’s final album, Abbey Road.

At the nationwide book and magazine festival The Word on the Street, hear acclaimed author Margaret Atwood talk about her latest literary masterpiece, The Year of the Flood.

Rifle through the sample-sale racks to find the perfect one-of-a-kind party frock at The Clothing Show, Canada’s largest weekend-long independent designer and vintage shopping event.

September Hot Date: Opera’s Famed Butterfly

<em>Madama Butterfly</em> (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Opera Company).OPENS SEPTEMBER 26 The Canadian Opera Company celebrates its 60th anniversary by staging a tragedy—Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. An affecting story of the doomed love between a sweet and naïve geisha, Cio-Cio San, and Pinkerton, a U.S. naval officer stationed in Japan, is considered one of the most popular operas of all time. And for good reason—its exotic setting, ill-fated romance and memorable score are the hallmarks of a timeless classic. COC mainstay David Pomeroy lends his pathos and tenor pipes as Pinkerton, while Romanian soprano Adina Nitescu makes her company debut in the title role. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 7:30 p.m., $62 to $292; call 416-363-8231 or click here to buy.

Weekend Roundup, June 19 to 21

This weekend marks the summer solstice and features the longest day of the year. Toronto offers enough music, street festivals and family fun to keep you occupied for the duration.

Friday: Wintersleep provide the tunes at Yonge-Dundas Square (photo by Reie Nakagawara).

Friday: Wintersleep provide the tunes at Yonge-Dundas Square (photo by Reie Nakagawara).

Friday, June 19
Ring in this year’s Pride Week with DiverCiudad, an exhibition of Latin American queer artists on display at Naco Gallery Café (1665 Dundas Street West., 647-347-6499)—savour spicy Mexican fare and coffee while you admire the artwork.

Take advantage of free concerts at Yonge-Dundas Square presented by the North By Northeast music festival. This evening offers the ethereal ballads of Wintersleep.

Stroll the cobbled streets of the Distillery Historic District for cocktails and conversation during the Toronto Wine and Spirit Festival.

Saturday: Take in the dragon boat races (photo by Linda Luong).

Saturday: Take in the dragon boat races (photo by Linda Luong).

Saturday, June 20
Head to Downsview Park and party with Edgefest’s stellar lineup including Canadian indie-rock faves Metric.

Fall in love with Franco-Fete, the Harbourfront Centre festival celebrating French heritage through cooking classes, music performances and family activities.

Spend the day dancing in the streets as the Big on Bloor festival spreads a wave of joy with artwork, music and patios a-plenty in downtown’s west end.

Climb aboard the ferry to the Toronto Islands to cheer on the many teams paddling for victory through Lake Ontario during the Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival.

Sunday: See intricate Aboriginal footwear at the Bata Shoe Museum (photo by Matthew Plexman).

Sunday: See intricate Aboriginal footwear at the Bata Shoe Museum (photo by Matthew Plexman).

Sunday, June 21
Combine fashion with history and head to the Bata Shoe Museum for National Aboriginal Day. The museum has a renowned collection of moccasins and other indigenous footwear.

Experience Mozart’s classic battle of the sexes as two young men test the honour of their fiancées’ love in Cosi fan tutte, presented by the Canadian Opera Company.

June Hot Date—COC’s Cosi fan tutte

Teiya Kasahara stars in the COC's production of <i>Cosi Fan Tutte</i>.

Teiya Kasahara stars in the COC's production of Cosi fan tutte.

OPENS JUNE 15 Two young soldiers test the fidelity of their fiancées in Cosi fan tutte, presented by the Canadian Opera Company. Mozart’s classic battle of the sexes features lyric coloratura soprano Teiya Kasahara as Despina. Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre, Monday to Friday 7:30 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m., $65; call 416-363-8231 to buy

Weekend Roundup, May 15 to 18

It’s a long weekend. Get out and enjoy it!

Touch sharks and stingrays at the Toronto Zoo (Photo by Dave Cruz Photography).

Friday: Sharks and stingrays at the Toronto Zoo (Photo by Dave Cruz Photography).

Friday, May 15
Interact with the bamboo and nurse sharks, stingrays and your family at the Toronto Zoo’s Sharks at Stingray Bay exhibit, opening today.

Dine amongst the stars at 360 the Restaurant at the CN Tower. Included in its summer menu are delectable dishes like fettuccini with East Coast lobster, and wild Canadian prawns with plum tomatoes and tarragon-chardonnay cream.

Spend an evening at storied Massey Hall watching a performance by equally renowned Canadian rockers The Tragically Hip.

Saturday, May 16
Cheer on the Toronto Blue Jays as they swing for the fences at Rogers Centre against the Chicago White Sox. Don’t forget to stop by the Blue Jays Shop for souvenir caps, t-shirts and jerseys.

Embrace Mother Nature at the Royal Ontario Museum with interactive family-fun activities like exploring a rainforest and making tree frog finger puppets—part of ROMKids Nature weekend.

Blue Jays star pitcher Roy Halladay

Saturday: Blue Jays star pitcher Roy Halladay.

Experience the youthful romance and comedic magic of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as interpreted by the Canadian Opera Company. Composer Benjamin Britten’s intoxicating score links together the mortal and fairy world at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

Select from an acclaimed menu of ale-infused entrees at Beer Bistro, and toast the long weekend with one of the restaurant’s 130-plus labels.

Sunday, May 17
Take in a heart-pounding Japanese drumming performance by Toronto-based ensemble Nagata Shachu, as part of Harbourfront Centre’s HarbourKIDS Impact Festival.

The boardwalk along The Beach (Photo by Craig Moy).

Monday: The boardwalk along The Beach (Photo by Craig Moy).

Dance and dine aboard Jubilee Queen Cruises as fireworks over Lake Ontario celebrate the Victoria Day weekend.

Monday, May 18
Be astounded by fire-eaters, acrobats and daredevils performing on the final day of the Toronto International Circus Festival.

Indulge your adventurous side with the new and interactive Wild World of Weather attraction at Ontario Place.

Admire the fireworks at Ashbridges Bay after 9:30 p.m., or swing by The Beach early for a stroll and an ice cream along the boardwalk.

May Hot Date—Enchanted Forest

canadian-opera-company Opens May 5 Fairies and mortals collide in a new Canadian Opera Company presentation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Set in Athens during the summer solstice, the tale follows the star-crossed interactions between fou mismatched lovers, a bumbling group of amateur actors and supernatural sprites. Whimsical soundscapes compose this operatic work by Benjamin Britten, based on the Shakespearean tale. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 7:30 p.m., select performances at 2 and 4:30 p.m., $60 to $290; call 416-363-8231 for tickets.

Two for the Show—The Canadian Opera Company in April

A duet of classic Italian operas hits all the right notes.
—By Amy Baker

Soaring arias, stunning sets, tales of tragedy—this month, experience dramatic performance at its finest as the Canadian Opera Company presents tour de force works by Giacomo Puccini and Giuseppe Verdi.

One of the most celebrated operas in history, La Bohème sets the stage for a love affair guaranteed to captivate the whole audience. Based on French novelist and poet Henri Murger’s autobiographical novel, Scènes de la vie de bohème, this four-act opera tells the story of Mimi and Rodolfo, two bohemians struggling over issues of infidelity, jealousy and poverty in 1830s Paris. Created by Puccini and his two librettists, Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, the show premiered at Turin’s Teatro Regio in 1896 and received mixed reviews. However, more than a century later, it is a staple of the Italian repertory and one of the most widely performed operas in the world. As Thomas Edison once said: “Men die and governments change, but the songs of La Bohème will live forever.” The COC’s production, starring Canadians David Pomeroy and Frédérique Vézina in the lead roles, is sure to be a worthy addition to the canon of this timeless classic.

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