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Opera

Must-See Performances in November and December

NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER ARE FULL OF EXCITING PERFORMANCES FROM BALLET TO ACROBATICS TO MAGIC, AND MORE  

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The 7 Fingers Cuisine and Confessions merges acrobatics with the art of cooking. Photo by by Alexandre Galliez.

Mirvish Productions, Toronto’s largest theatre company, is closing out 2016 with a program of more esoteric—yet still ambitious—shows to complement its typical grander-scale fare. The 7 Fingers Cuisine and Confessions (November 1 to December 4), for instance, blends acrobatics and cooking in a theatrical feast for the senses, while Fight Night (November 4 to 20) concocts an immersive exploration of democracy—just in time for the fireworks of the U.S. presidential election. And there’s more spectacle to be found in The Illusionists (starts December 13), which features awe-inspiring tricks by seven of the world’s top magicians.

Aligator Pie, Soulpepper

Soulpepper’s Alligator Pie is fun for the whole family. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

The spotlight also shines on sleight of hand courtesy of Soulpepper Theatre Company and magic maestro David Ben’s Hocus Pocus (starts December 10). Equally inventive—and family-friendly—are Rose (December 16, 17, and 22), a concert presentation based on The World Is Round, a children’s book by Gertrude Stein, and Alligator Pie (starts December 27), an award-winning adaptation of Dennis Lee’s poems. 

And for more adult-oriented fare, turn to the Canadian Stage and Daniel MacIvor. His solo show, Who Killed Spalding Gray? (November 30 to December 11), combines the Canadian playwright’s uniquely disarming scripting with some of the titular character’s famed monologues in an interrogation of truth and fiction.

ENCORE PERFORMANCES

A pair of repertory remounts round out the National Ballet of Canada’s year-end slate—alongside its annual production of The Nutcracker (December 10 to 31), naturally. Most recently performed in 2014, James Kudelka’s Cinderella (November 12 to 20) offers a thoroughly modern interpretation of the age-old fairy tale, and later, the expressive Onegin (November 23 to 27)—John Cranko’s adaptation of the Pushkin novel, Eugene Onegin—aims for emotional and psychological nuance even while its dancers push the boundaries of what the human body can do.

Sharing the Four Seasons Centre stage with the National Ballet means that the Canadian Opera Company has for the time being ceded the spotlight, but the COC presents a great reason to return in 2017: its ever-popular production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute (January 19 to February 24).

HITTING THE RIGHT NOTES

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Itzhak Perlman enchants audiences with his performances of beloved movie scores.

The popular music of previous centuries—that is, classical music—is always in vogue with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. But the venerated ensemble keeps up with the times, too, by presenting contemporary scores. Among this winter’s biggest tickets are Itzhak Perlman’s “Cinema Serenade” (November 22)—in which the famed violinist performs themes from films, including Cinema Paradiso, Sabrina and Schindler’s List—and screenings of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring with live TSO accompaniment (December 1 to 3). Christmas classics also get an airing in variety show-style concerts hosted by Colin Mochrie (December 9 to 11) and Jann Arden (December 13 and 14).

Meanwhile, another hallowed musical institution hones in on jazz. The Royal Conservatory’s Koerner Hall schedule features the likes of Joe Lovano’s quintet with Afro-Cuban piano legend Chucho Valdés (November 9), a cabaret-style pairing of vocalists Laila Biali and Pilar (December 1), and explorations of the trio format with threesomes led by pianist Stefano Bollani, bassist Roberto Occhipinti (both November 18), organist Joey DeFrancesco and saxophonist Christine Jensen (both December 10).

—Craig Moy

What to Do in Toronto: Festivals, Concerts and Events this October

THERE ARE ALWAYS SO MANY THINGS TO DO IN TORONTO. GET OUT AND ENJOY SOME OF THE MANY GREAT EVENTS AND CONCERTS TAKING PLACE THROUGHOUT THE CITY THIS MONTH!

Gavin Creel in The Book of Mormon, North American Tour. © Joan Marcus, 2012.

Gavin Creel in The Book of Mormon, North American Tour. © Joan Marcus, 2012.

ALL MONTH LONG  Tony Award–winning musical The Book of Mormon is back at the Princess of Wales Theatre. The story centres on two missionaries who travel to Uganda in hopes of spreading the gospel but who experience a disconnect with the villagers who are dealing with AIDS, famine, poverty and war. Tickets are $49 – $200; visit mirvish.com for more information and to purchase.

ALL MONTH LONG This season at the Design Exchange, guest curator Jeanne Beker peeks into the wardrobes of iconic fashion designers and pulls out pieces that have made important political statements over the past 50 years for the exhibition “Politics of Fashion.” The striking garments lend both style and substance to longstanding ethical debates, gender issues, anti-war activism and more. General admission is $9.25 – $18.50; visit dx.org for more information and to purchase.

STARTS OCTOBER 3 Known for vibrant, thickly textured canvases that explore the physical and psychological connections between artist and landscape, artist Kim Dorland offers a series of new works for display at Angell Gallery. Expect pieces that continue to expand on the artist’s signature style and thematic concerns, further entrenching his position as Canada’s painter of record. Angell Gallery; 12 Ossington Ave., 416-530-0444. Open Wednesday to Saturday.

STARTS OCTOBER 12 Helen Lawrence, a new media production by visual artist Stan Douglas, mixes theatre, visual art, live action filming and computer-generated simulation in this story set in post-World War II Vancouver. Bluma Appel Theatre, 27 Front St. E., 416-366-1656. Tuesday to Thursday 8 p.m., Friday 7 p.m., Saturday 1 & 8 p.m., Wednesday & Sunday 1 p.m.; $30-$99; visit canadianstage.com or call 416-368-3110 to charge.

OCTOBER 17 TO 19 If you’ve ever longed to taste the recipes being made by TV chefs, the Delicious Food Show is your meal ticket. Whether you hunger for the inside scoop on trendy cuisine, advice on grilling the perfect steak, or simply a sinful chocolate cake recipe, celebrity chefs such as Tyler Florence, Chuck Hughes and Mario Batali have you covered. Join them, plus local chefs like DaiLo’s Nick Liu and Yours Truly’s Lachlan Culjak for a feast of workshops, cooking demos and food pairings. Direct Energy Centre, Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., general admission is $22; visit deliciousfoodshow.com for details.

STARTS OCTOBER 23 Giants of the literary world descend upon the waterfront for 35th edition of the International Festival of Authors. A global roster of 200-plus novelists, poets, essayists and more share their passion for the written word during 11 days of readings, panel discussions, interviews and book signings. CanLit darling Ann-Marie MacDonald, poet Dionne Brand, crime fiction novelist James Ellroy, Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard, Irish scribes Colm Tóibín and John Boyne, and critically acclaimed Emma Donoghue are among the expected participants. Harbourfront Centre, general admission $18 for most events; call 416-973-4000 or visit ifoa.org for a schedule and to purchase tickets.

Opera Atelier Alcina. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

Opera Atelier’s Alcina starts October 23. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

STARTS OCTOBER 23  Sorceress sisters weave romantic entanglements in Alcina, the latest offering from Opera Atelier. In the company’s new, period-appropriate production of Handel’s 18th-century masterwork, the handsome Ruggiero finds himself on an island in search of the seductress Alcina; his true love, Bradamante, follows, disguised as a knight, and immediately draws the gaze of Alcina’s sister Morgana. But on this island of illusion, it’s true love that proves to be most magical. Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge St., evenings at 7:30 p.m., Sunday matinee at 3 p.m.. Tickets are $38 – $181; call 1-855-622-2787 to charge or visit operaatelier.com for details.

OCTOBER 24 TO 26 Cask Days brings unfiltered, unpasteurized and naturally carbonated brews to the masses, allowing breweries the chance to show off their hops. This year’s event has about 300 different cask-conditioned ales by 100-plus breweries from across Canada, the United States and the U.K., including Niagara Oast House, Nelson Brewery, Grizzly Paw, Microbrasserie Le Castor and Grand River Brewing. A special focus on California includes 30-plus breweries from the state. Not into ale? A number of ciders are available, too, as well as gluten-free beer options. Evergreen Brick Works, Friday 6 to 11 p.m., Saturday 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday noon to 6 p.m. Tickets are $35 and up; see caskdays.com to purchase.

TO OCTOBER 26 Cirque du Soleil is back in Toronto, and this season the famed Montreal troupe presents a kaleidoscope of characters and objects in its latest travelling show, Kurios—Cabinet of Curiosities. Under the big top, audiences are transported back to the 19th century to meet an inventor who’s able to defy time, space and even gravity—one spectacular scene even features an upside-down dinner party! Grand Chapiteau, 51 Commissioner St., Tuesday to Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 4:30 and 8 p.m., Sunday 1:30 and 5 p.m.; $50 to $160; visit cirquedusoleil.com to purchase tickets.

STARTS OCTOBER 29 Although the Toronto Raptors endured a heartbreaking end to their 2013-14 playoffs this past May, the Dinos have retained their core and begin a new season stronger than ever. Forward DeMar DeRozan, point guard Kyle Lowry and shooting guard Terrence Ross are among the returning stars who’ll take on the world’s best basketball players this fall. The Raptors start their new season at home against the Atlanta Hawks. Air Canada Centre, 7:30 p.m., $12.50 and up; call 416-366-3865 to charge.

ALSO THIS MONTH!

Cancer-stricken Swedish Olympic heptathlete Nadja Casadei. Photo by Peter Holgerson, courtesy of World Press Photo.

The training regime of cancer-stricken Swedish Olympic heptathlete Nadja Casadei, photographed by Peter Holgersson. Courtesy of World Press Photo.

TO OCTOBER 21 World Press Photo, the annual juried exhibition of award-winning photojournalism covering events and issues that impacted the world in 2013, is on display at Brookfield Place (181 Bay St.). Admission is free.

OCTOBER 3 The Blue Dot Tour with David Suzuki—promoting clean drinking water, fresh air and healthy food for all Canadians—comes to Massey Hall, with such special guests as Stephen Lewis, the Barenaked Ladies, Chantel Kreviazuk and Raine Maida. The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39.50 – $79.50. Visit bluedot.ca for more information and to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 4 Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, the annual all-night art affair, returns with more than 100 public installations, many of which invite visitors to be part of the works themselves. The free sunset-to-sunrise event expands into several new neighbourhoods, including Fort York, Chinatown and Bremner Boulevard, the latter of which hosts a magical night circus. Elsewhere, Máximo González’s installation, Walk Among Worlds, takes on political undertones by way of 7,000 beach balls to visualize first- and third-world states. Visit scotiabanknuitblanche.ca for a list of locations.

OCTOBER 5 TO 7 Part of the National Geographic Live series, award-winning photographer Steve Winter shares his experience travelling the globe in search of tigers, cougars and snow leopards. Tickets are $19.50 – $79.50. Roy Thomson Hall, October 5, 2 p.m.; October 6 and 7, 8 p.m. Visit roythomson.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 6 New York-based indie rockers We Are Scientists take the stage at The Horseshoe Tavern with guests Surfer Blood and Eternal Summers. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $18.50; visit horseshoetavern.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 7 TO 11 Award-winning actor, director and producer Ravi Jain and his mom Asha star in A Brimful of Asha, a family story about the search for the perfect bride. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Mill St., 416-203-6264.Tuesday to Saturday 9 p.m., Wednesday & Saturday 2 p.m.; $35-$55; visit soulpepper.ca or call 416-866-8666 to buy.

OCTOBER 8 Indie folk-rock chanteuse Cat Power brings her unique fusion sound to The Danforth Music Hall, 8 p.m. Tickets are $36; visit ticketmaster.ca or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

OCTOBER 8 & 9 Pop singer-songwriter Jason Mraz plays at Massey Hall, with the show starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $55.50 – $75.50; visit masseyhall.com to purchase.

Russell Peters

Russell Peters is back bringing the laughs at the Air Canada Centre on October 9.

OCTOBER 9 Brampton, Ontario’s best-known export, Russell Peters, is back with all-new material in his latest headlining show, the Almost Famous World Tour. Hot on the heels of appearances on NBC’s Last Comic Standing and Notorious on Netflix, Peters brings his trademark brand of wit and observation to what is sure to be a well-attended show—back in 2007, he was the first comedian to sell out the ACC. Air Canada Centre, 8 p.m. Tickets are $58.50 – $125.75; call 1-855-985-5000 or see russellpeters.com for information.

OCTOBER 10 Grammy Award-winning jazz musician Esperanza Spalding—who plays both upright bass and cello—brings her distinctive sound to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre at Exhibition Place. Tickets are 49.50; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to charge.

OCTOBER 13 Aussie pop star Betty Who—made famous by a flash mob proposal video shot in a Home Depot that went viral—takes the stage at the Virgin Mobile Mod Club, with guests Joywave and Great Good Fine OK. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $19.50; visit livenation.com to purchase.

STARTS OCTOBER 14 A musical journey through the short-lived career of the legendary rock and roll pioneer, who died tragically in a plane crash, Buddy! The Buddy Holly Story features “That’ll be the Day,” “Peggy Sue” and “Everyday.” Various times. Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge St., 416-314-2901. Tickets are $29 – $120; call 1-855-622-2787 or visit ticketmaster.ca to buy.

OCTOBER 15 Brit rock band Bastille makes a stop in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre during their North American tour. Tickets are $34.50 – $42.50; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

OCTOBER 16 TO 18 Bach and breakdancing may seem an unlikely combination—until you witness the Flying Steps, that is. The seven-member all-male dance troupe arrives in Toronto for one of two Canadian stops on its Red Bull Flying Bach world tour. Also featuring Swedish dancer Anna Holmström, this high-energy performance combines fast-footed jumps, head spins, jackhammers, hand hops and more choreographed to a live piano and harpsichord performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier. Massey Hall, Thursday to Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m., $25 – $70; call 416-872-4255 for tickets; see flying-steps.de for more information.

OCTOBER 18 Christine McVie rejoins her bandmates for a Fleetwood Mac North American tour, making a stop in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre. Tickets are $49.50 – $199.50; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

OCTOBER 21 Bruce McCulloch, of Kids in the Hall fame, chronicles his life as a rebellious teenager in Alberta to her early days in Toronto to fatherhood in Young Drunk Punk. The show, presented by the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, combines stand-up, live music and anecdotes in the lead up to McCulloch’s new book Let’s Start a Riot: A Series of Bravery and Stupidity. General admission is $39; admission plus a copy of the book and a post-show reception is $55. Visit torontosketchfest.com or call 647-505-1050 to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 21 October is breast cancer awareness month, and Eat to the Beat provides a novel way to help. The 19th edition of this popular fundraiser for Willow Breast & Hereditary Cancer Support has 60 of the country’s best female chefs preparing signature bites like duck breast on polenta cream, grilled cheese, brownies and pies. Local culinary favourites include Doona Dooher of Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, Trista Sheen of Crush Wine Bar and Bonnie Gordon of Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., $175 includes all food and beverages, 7 p.m.; call 416-778-6314 ext. 236 or see eattothebeat.ca for details.

STARTS OCTOBER 21 In the world premiere of The Bakelite Masterpiece, set in Holland following World War II, an artist accused of selling art to the Nazis must prove his innocence by painting a work by Johannes Vermeer in front of a prosecutor and art historian. Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave., 416-531-1827. Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 2:30 p.m.; $48-$53; visit tarragontheatre.com to purchase.

OCTOBER 22 TO 26 The crafty and DIYers won’t want to miss the fall Creativ Festival, a massive consumer show bringing together sewing, quilting, beading, knitting, needlework, DIY decorating, crafting, scrapbooking and more. Workshops and seminars begin on October 22, while the Show Floor is open October 24 to 26, offering a chance to browse and buy a variety of goods, including fabrics, fibres, papers, beads, patterns, tools, books, kits and equipment. Show Floor hours are Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission for one day is $4 – $15, and a three-day pass is $25 ($5 for students with valid ID). Hands-on classes and seminars are an extra cost. Visit creativfestival.com for more information or to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 24 The ever-bold Irish singer Sinead O’Connor brings her incredible voice to Massey Hall. Tickets are $49.50 – $79.50; visit masseyhall.com to purchase.

Art Toronto

Art Toronto brings together contemporary art from around the world. Photo courtesy of Art Toronto.

OCTOBER 24 TO 27 The 15th annual Art Toronto, a modern and contemporary fine art fair, will feature more than 100 galleries from Canada and around the world. There will be a feature exhibition by Quebec-based collective BGL, as well as fair tours and expert talks. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St. W.; visit arttoronto.ca for ticket info and further details.

OCTOBER 25 Feist, Sarah Harmer, Jason Collett, Hayden, Lou Canon, Kevin Hearn and other musicians will come together for the first annual Dream Serenade Benefit Concert at Massey Hall in support of services for children with developmental disabilities. Tickets are $50 – $200; visit masseyhall.com or call 416-872-4255 to purchase.

TO OCTOBER 26 In the Henrik Ibsen drama An Enemy of the People, a doctor discovers that his town’s baths are contaminated and must decide if he should inform the public of the health risk or keep it to himself to prevent the local economy from collapsing. Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave., 416-531-1827. Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 2:30 p.m.; $25-$48; visit tarragontheatre.com to purchase.

OCTOBER 27 Canadian synth-pop darling Lights brings her sparkling tunes to The Danforth Music Hall with special guest Rush Midnight. Tickets are $35; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for April 27 to 29

Friday, April 27
The biannual Ottawa International Writers Festival takes place this weekend and will feature world-renowned writers speaking about their experiences in the field of history, science, fiction, poetry, and more. Some of the big-name draws include Giller Prize-winning author Vincent Lam and CBC correspondent Nahlah Ayed.

In an event that will showcase young Canadian performers, Handel’s opera Giulio Cesare tells the story of seduction and politics. The semi-staged production, put on by Thirteen Strings, is the highlight of the orchestra’s season.

Ana Miura plays at the first-ever Ottawa Grassroots Festival

Saturday, April 28
Folk music takes centre stage at the first-ever Ottawa Grassroots Festival. The event features local talent and includes Ottawa artists such as The Bytown Ukulele Group and Ana Miura.

(more…)

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 Date: Brueggergosman’s Operatic Vengeance

Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman (photo by Bruce Zinger)

APRIL 22 TO MAY 1 Measha Brueggergosman, arguably Canada’s most acclaimed operatic singer, lends her pipes to Opera Atelier’s La Clemenza di Tito. In this lavish new production, the New Brunswick–born soprano portrays the daughter of an aristocrat who plots the assassination of the Roman emperor, whose role is sung by Croatian tenor Krešimir Špicer. Set to music by Mozart, the two-act opera offers a tale of ambition and intrigue—but also forgiveness and redemption. Elgin Theatre, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 7:30 p.m., Sunday 3 p.m., $33 to $166; call 416-872-5555 or click here to purchase tickets.

Hot Date: Bayrakdarian’s Back

Isabel Bayrakdarian (photo by Dario Acosta)

JUNE 18 Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian joins the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in a production of Ravel’s Shéhérazade—part of an evening of music and culture honouring Armenian heritage. Peter Oundjian conducts a program that also includes Khachaturian’s “Waltz from Masquerade,” “Three Armenian Songs” and “Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia.” Roy Thomson Hall, 8 p.m., $44 to $165; call 416-593-4828 to purchase.

December Editor’s Picks: Entertainment

Yamato Drummers of Japan

Yamato Drummers of Japan

DECEMBER 2 Music, dance and propulsive percussion fill the city this month in a dramatic display of rhythmic prowess by the Yamato Drummers of Japan. A modern generation of energetic men and women revives an ancient Japanese art form in this unforgettable ensemble presentation featuring traditional taiko drums and thunderous odaiko barrels that are six feet in diameter. Both ingeniously innovative and intensely physical, the Yamato Drummers’ performances are influenced by the idea that the drumbeat, like the heartbeat, is the very pulse of life. Massey Hall,
8 p.m., $49.50 to $69.50; for tickets call 416-872-4255.

DECEMBER 6 A classic fable of kindness and redemption is told through music when the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Canadian Children’s Opera team up to present Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Roy Thomson Hall, 3 p.m. $15 to $59; call 416-593-4828 for tickets.

The Princess and the Handmaiden (photo by iden ford)

The Princess and the Handmaiden (photo by iden ford)

DECEMBER 18 TO 27 In Disney on Ice Presents Princess Classics, pint-size viewers marvel as Cinderella, Snow White and other beloved screen characters skate through an undersea kingdom, an enchanted castle and beyond. Rogers Centre, $15 to $90; call 416-870-8000 to buy.

TO DECEMBER 30 Canadian composer and librettist Leslie Arden explores friendship and loyalty in her world-premiere musical, The Princess and the Handmaiden, a modern retelling of a fairytale about a pampered royal and her hard-working companion. Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, $10 to $20; call 416-862-2222 for times and tickets.

A 2008 performance of Bravissimo

A 2008 performance of Bravissimo

DECEMBER 31 Stand up and cheer for some of the most passionate operatic music ever written, as Bravissimo! Opera’s Greatest Hits returns to Toronto for a spectacular New Year’s Eve concert. Led by Austrian-Italian conductor Roberto Paternostro, an all-star cast of internationally renowned singers and musicians, perform an array of beloved arias, duets, overtures and more. Newcomers and seasoned aficionados alike are sure to be moved by the legendary melodies from Carmen, Madama Butterfly, La bohème and other classics from opera’s golden age. Roy Thomson Hall, 7 p.m., $75 to $155; call 416-872-4255 to purchase tickets.