Shades? Try spectacles. From the National Ballet's Alice to Jean Paul Gaultier's bustiers and Janelle Monae's high-rise hair, our critics point the way to the season's not-to-be-missed numbers.
DANCE - Paula Citron Dance is always enriched by summer festivals: A smart producer can create an alluring magnet by concentrating carefully chosen artists under one umbrella, widening horizons by bringing in companies both foreign and domestic.
Here are four of the best fests, plus one very exciting single event. Luminato Festival, June 10 to 19
The highly anticipated National Ballet of Canada's co-production of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (June 4 to 25) by acclaimed choreographer Christopher Wheeldon received great reviews when Britain's Royal Ballet premiered the piece in March. The National is giving the Canadian premiere. Toronto's own Sampradaya Dance Creations goes Bollywood with Taj (June 10 to 12), a piece of dance theatre inspired by the love story behind the Taj Mahal, starring Kabir Bedi and Lisa Ray. Hot, hot Brit Akram Khan and his company, known for virtuoso/intellectual dance, appear June 16 to 18. Various venues.
Canada Dance Festival, June 15 to 18
The odd-year festival is short and sweet (in even years, the CDF presents a who's who of Canadian dance). The 2011 edition focuses on young artists starting to get noticed on a national level. Calgary's Helen Husak is cutting-edge contemporary. Three other acts are contemporary dance fusions - Vancouver's 605 Collective (hip hop/ballet), Toronto's Kashedance (Afro-Caribbean), and Montreal's Lara Kramer (aboriginal). Ottawa's Bboyizm is flat-out, street-smart hip-hop urban. Various venues.
Dancing on the Edge, July 7 to 16
Vancouver's DOTE has long been a judicious mix of mostly local and some national companies, with a sprinkling from abroad. Representing the local scene are Aeriosa Dance, Barbara Bourget, Raven Spirit Dance, and Karen Jamieson Dance. The rest of Canada brings Edmonton's Usha Gupta, Montreal's Alejandro de Leon, and Toronto's Dancemakers and Kashedance. Israel's Arkadi Zaides is the foreign import. Various venues.
Festival des arts de Saint-Sauveur, July 28 to Aug. 7
FASS had always been a lot of dance and a little classical music, mostly on the imported side, with many companies making their Canadian debuts. For this 20th-anniversary season, FASS has a motherlode of big-time companies. Among them: Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Soloists of the Paris Opera Ballet-3e-étage, Gauthier Dance Company Theaterhaus Stuttgart, and Soloists of the Royal Swedish Ballet-Stockholm 59° North. FASS is also resurrecting its International Choreography Competition, and ends the fest with Bouge de là, a spectacle of youth dance. At the Grand Chapiteau.
Twyla Tharp/Come Fly Away, Aug. 16 to 28
Superstar American choreographer Tharp had mega-success on Broadway with her Billy Joel show, Movin' Out, which ran for 1,331 performances. Yet despite rave reviews, her Frank Sinatra show, Come Fly Away, lasted only five months last year. The national tour, however, has been a great success. To Sinatra songs, the story follows four couples as they fall in and out of love during an evening at a crowded nightclub. Four Seasons Centre, Toronto
MUSIC - J.D. Considine, Robert Everett-Green, Brad Wheeler If last summer saw the concert industry melt down, 2011 is set for a subtle rebound, with ambitions more modest and with no Lilith despair. The perennial big festivals will be as big as always - in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Ottawa - but there are special moments elsewhere.
His back bones surgically repaired, Bono and his fellow Dubliners touch their spaceship stage down in four Canadian cities before closing the third leg of their 360° Tour on July 30 at the Magnetic Hill Music Festival in Moncton, where that day the marquee will be shared by Montreal indie superstars Arcade Fire. A beautiful day? Oh, yes. Winnipeg, May 29; Edmonton, June 1; Montreal, July 8 and 9; Toronto, July 11; Moncton, July 30.
The Tragically Hip
The guitar-rock northern stars spread out for a dozen dates and festivals across the country in June and July, but the one on the top of the itinerary promises transcendence. On the evening of June 25, at the Big Music Fest in Bobcaygeon, Ont., the Hip's watchable front man Gord Downie will remind his audience that "it was in Bobcaygeon, I saw the constellations, reveal themselves one star at a time." A crowd's uproar will be epic; the stars, aligned. All will seem possible. Bobcaygeon, June 25; Moncton, June 28; Charlottetown, June 30; Downsview, Ont., July 1; Windsor, July 2; Winnipeg Folk, July 7; Ottawa Blues, July 9; Sarnia, Ont., July 10; Dawson Creek, B.C., July 12; Edmonton, July 14; Burnaby, B.C., July 15; Montreal's Osheaga Festival, July 31.
Osheaga Festival Musique et Arts
This is the big one, the one not to miss, the Coachella of the North. Three days in Montreal at the end of July promise the rapping intensity of Eminem, Sam Roberts, Elvis Costello & the Imposters, Broken Social Scene, Janelle Monáe, guitar goddess Anna Colvi, and a full playing of the album The Soft Bulletin by the Oklahoma mind-blowers, the Flaming Lips. And so much more. July 29 to 31, Montreal.
The talented Miss M - she's Lauryn Hill without the crazy - pushes the freakiest soul-funk buttons and rocks the tuxedo. After giving us a taste earlier this year at Canadian Music Week, the U.S. singer is back in a number of different settings - going pompadour to pompadour with Bruno Mars for a couple of dates, later opening for pop fabrication Katy Perry on the Prairies, and hitting Osheaga, too. Windsor, Ont., May 22; Vancouver, June 3; Regina, July 13; Winnipeg, July 14; Calgary, July 16; Edmonton, July 17; Montreal, July 29.
His fans feel like he does, ready to relive his breakthrough 1976 album Frampton Comes Alive, which will be performed in its entirety. A 2010 show at Toronto's Massey Hall found the Humble Pie guitarist and Show Me The Way singer in fine voice and form, and now he brings his never-in-fashion talk-box effect back to the future for seven Canadian dates. Montreal Jazz, June 30; Toronto, July 9; Ottawa Blues, July 10; Richmond, B.C., Sept. 24; Calgary, Sept. 26; Regina, Sept. 27; Winnipeg, Sept. 28.
CLASSICAL MUSIC FESTIVALS - Robert Everett-Green
Festival de Lanaudière, Joliet, Que., July 9 to Aug. 7
This year's fest northeast of Montreal includes a recital with orchestra by contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux (July 16), performances of French and Russian music by Charles Dutoit and the Philadelphia Orchestra (July 22 and 23), and an OSM concert with mezzo-soprano Susan Graham (Aug. 6).
Toronto Summer Music Festival, July 18 to Aug. 13
Violist Douglas McNabney's first season as music director includes recitals by baritone Thomas Allen (July 26) and soprano Christine Brewer (Aug. 4), two all-Beethoven programs by Toronto's Gryphon Trio (Aug. 10-11), a couple of concerts by the Nash Ensemble (Aug. 2 and 6), and a visit by the National Youth Orchestra of Canada (Aug. 9). Koerner Hall and other venues.
Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, July 23 to Aug. 5
The big draws this year include the opening show with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and soprano Karina Gauvin (July 23), and piano recitals by Simone Dinnerstein (July 29) and Marc-André Hamelin (July 31). Various venues.
Early Music Vancouver: Henry Purcell's King Arthur, Aug. 10
Purcell's "semi-opera," with text by John Dryden, is a hybrid of straight theatre and rescue opera that makes it hard to approach for most opera companies. Early Music Vancouver grapples with the work on something like its own terms, in a performance featuring sopranos Suzie LeBlanc and Ellen Hargis. Chan Centre, Vancouver.
VISUAL ARTS - James Adams The next few months are a great time to celebrate Canada's great indoors. The country's major art institutions are putting on a potpourri of exhibitions they've determined will please crowds of tourists and locals alike. Here are five shows that should cause more than a few eyes to pop.
Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome, June 17 to Sept. 11
Although dead more than 400 years, no artist is more hip or happening these days than Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. Eleven of his paintings, drawn from the collections of the Louvre, the Uffizi and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others, are going up in the nation's capital alongside more than 50 works by such famous contemporaries as Artemisia Gentileschi and Jusepe de Ribera. Clearly the National Gallery is going for Baroque this summer, in marked contrast to last year's showcase of pop art. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.
Abstract Expressionist New York, May 28 to Sept. 4
The gang at the AGO were given pretty much carte blanche to select more than 100 paintings, sculptures, works on paper and photos from the fabled Abstract Expressionist collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art. All the big names are here - Pollock, Rothko, de Kooning, Motherwell, Kline, Frankenthaler, Newman - and many of their signature works. It's an exclusive and unprecedented loan, as deep as it is wide. If anything can salve Toronto's enduring case of Manhattan envy, it's this exhibition. Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.
The Colour of My Dreams: The Surrealist Revolution in Art, May 28 to Sept. 25
It's being billed as the most comprehensive exhibition of Surrealist art ever to grace a Canadian art institution. Could it be otherwise when you're hosting more than 350 works by such notables as Dali, Ernst, Man Ray, Miro and Magritte, culled from museums around the world? One attraction: a look at how native art from the Pacific Northwest influenced Surrealist practice, highlighted by the display of the Yuk'ip ceremonial mask purchased earlier this year by Toronto collector David Thomson for a record $2.5-million (U.S.) from the estate of New York artist Enrico Donati. Vancouver Art Gallery.
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, June 17 to Oct. 2
The art world is as prone to the vagaries of fashion as, well, fashion. Yet often when a museum mounts an exhibition devoted to a living fashion designer, there's no lack of controversy. Remember the art-vs.-commerce debate sparked by the Metropolitan Museum's Yves St. Laurent retrospective in 1983 or the 2000 Armani show at the Guggenheim? Get set for that sort of chin-wagging when Montreal's premier art gallery presents French bad boy Jean Paul Gaultier, in a show subtitled From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. Musée des beaux-arts, Montreal.
Hurtubise, May 14 through Sept. 5
In the fall of 1960, 21-year-old Montreal art student Jacques Hurtubise got a scholarship to study in New York. There, he visited the studios of some of the scene's major artists as well as the city's major galleries, most notably the Museum of Modern Art. Today, Hurtubise is regarded as one of the masters of post-Automatiste/post-Plasticien abstraction. Now a resident of Nova Scotia, he's the subject of a major retrospective, featuring more than 60 paintings from all phases of his 50-year career. Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax.
THEATRE - J. Kelly Nestruck Summer in Canada is synonymous with three things theatrically: Shakespeare, fringe festivals and an 11-year-old redhead nicknamed Carrots. This year, however, there are some new twists on those stage standbys.
Anne of Green Gables, June 28 to Aug. 31
Anne of Green Gables never changes? Some beg to differ. After running every summer for almost a half-century, the 1965 musical adaptation of L.M. Montgomery's much-loved book was getting a little long in the tooth. And so, the Charlottetown Festival is "reimagining" it: Marcia Kash is the new director, Mike Jackson has choreographed new steps for Anne and Gilbert, and Doug Paraschuk has designed a fresh Green Gables. Book writer and lyricist Don Harron, the last surviving creator of the musical, has even penned a new scene for this revamp. Confederation Centre of the Arts, Charlottetown.
La Tempête, July 1 to 30
Robert Lepage returns to the Bard this summer in what promises to be a spectacular outdoor production. In collaboration with the Huron-Wendat nation, the Quebec director's company Ex Machina will present a new production of La Tempête ( The Tempest) at the Wendake amphitheatre near the St. Charles River. Lepage, the first North American to direct Shakespeare at Britain's National Theatre in 1993, has assembled a cast of native and non-native performers for this take on a drama often read as a colonialist allegory. In French. L'amphithéâtre extérieur, Wendake, Que.
Bard on the Beach, Vancouver, June 2 to Sept. 24
BoB's big tent is getting bigger, offering up four fresh-air shows by Shakespeare. To inaugurate their larger new mainstage tent, Vancouver's festival al fresco is presenting As You Like It directed by David Mackay, and The Merchant of Venice directed by Rachel Ditor. In the final season in the smaller 240-seat tent - which will be replaced by a new one seating 400 next season - Christopher Weddell directs his own distillation of Henry VI, parts I, II and III into a single evening's entertainment, while Kathryn Shaw tackles Richard III in all its unabridged glory. Vanier Park.
Dancap's summer season, July 5 to Aug. 28
With the opera on vacation, commercial theatre upstart Dancap presents a summer season in the Four Seasons Centre for the second year in a row. Up first is Donny and Marie Live, which features the brother and sister Osmonds singing old hits like Puppy Love and Paper Roses. Then comes edgier fare with Next to Normal, the Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical about a family dealing with a mentally ill mom. Following that are two concerts by Colm Wilkinson. Four Seasons Centre, Toronto.
Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival, Aug. 11 to 21
Edmonton's Fringe turns 30 this year. Still the largest and most successful of the country's fringe fests, it has spread its tentacles out from the Old Strathcona neighbourhood to much of the rest of the Alberta capital - this year the Bring Your Own Venue shows will make up a third of the programming. In all, there'll be 182 plays on theatrical tap. Various venues.