Time to review the conjugations of Luminato, the festival that strives to encompass all the arts in a mere 10 days. After careful study of the complete table of dozens of luminations available at this year’s event, I suggest you luminate as follows:
The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic
She once reviled theatre as “fake,” but the Serbian performance artist has of late been won over to the stage, no doubt partly because Robert Wilson met her part way in his adaptation of her life story. Clips of the show reveal pageant-like scenes, in which the artist plays herself and her mother, and actor Willem Dafoe plays everyone else. The music, by Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons, promises to be more gentle than the confrontational events Abramovic has been installing at galleries for four decades, but like her, Antony knows how to keep the edge sharp.
Bluma Appel Theatre, June 14-17
Feng Yi Ting
We’re in the thick of a rush hour of artworks from and about China, and this opera by Guo Wenjing promises a compact update on how East can meet West on a single stage. The story is ancient, the sparse score a mixture of classical Chinese melody and cautious western harmonies. Luminato’s remount of a show that was new last year features two stars of Chinese opera, soprano Shen Tiemei and countertenor Jiang Qihu, as well as direction by Atom Egoyan.
MacMillan Theatre, June 20-22
L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato
Mark Morris’s setting of music by Handel is such a crowd magnet, his company the Mark Morris Group has kept it in active repertoire for 25 years, which means it has outlasted the careers of most of the dancers who created it. Morris is renowned for his playfully inventive choreography, musical sensitivity and flair for animating stage volumes, and his previous Luminato performances were a hit of the 2008 festival. He’s joined for these shows by Toronto’s Tafelmusik.
Sony Centre, June 21-23
This is truly a Christmas gift in June: a free outdoor performance by Laurie Anderson, creator of perennially fresh conceptual artworks that also happen to be music. Expect to hear songs from her 2010 album Homeland, which drew wide praise for its mixture of national myth and quotidian detail. The opener is DakhaBrakha, a Kiev-based quartet that combines traditional Ukrainian song with a melange of sounds from Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere.
David Pecaut Square, June 16
Turntablist Kid Koala’s live realization of his second graphic novel features projected images of his drawings, a piano and turntable score delivered to the audience via headphones, and illustrative perfumery by International Flavors and Fragrances. Truly a scratch-and-sniff event, and the only Luminato production at Pecaut Square for which a ticket is required.
David Pecaut Square, June 14 & 15