As always, there is glitter and pizzazz associated with the Luminato festival, now in its sixth year. But beyond and below the spectacle operas, the theatrical premieres and the celebrity-studded concerts there are lower profile happenings worth catching – some smaller events affiliated with larger ones, and some things which standalone.
- Contemporary Opera’s Big Bang (June 6, 7 p.m., $20. Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St. W.) Robert Wilson, Phillip Glass and Lucinda Childs discuss landmark unconventional opera Einstein on the Beach, a genius five-hour work from 1976 that will be remounted at Luminato (June 8 to 10).
- Kae Sun (June 8, 8 p.m. Free, David Pecaut Square, 55 John St.) By all means, do see K’naan on Friday. He’s a big deal: an anthemic songwriter, a singing rapper-poet, a Somali-Canadian troubadour. Don’t miss opening act Kae Sun, however. The Toronto-based native of Ghana unfurls flags and fights for freedom in more intimate and melodic ways – something like a guy named Marley.
- Anna McGarrigle and Michael Ondaatje (June 8, noon. Free. Luminato Lounge, 55 John St.) The English Patient author, who has worked with the Queen Street West country-crooner Justin Rutledge, talks with Quebec folk artist Anna McGarrigle about collaboration and the art of female songwriting. Ms. McGarrigle is in town for a Massey Hall salute to her late sister Kate, on June 15.
- The Cheat: Richard Turner (June 11, 5:30 p.m. and June 12 to 14, 7:15 p.m. Free. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W.) Robert Lepage’s latest theatrical project, Playing Cards (June 13 to 17), uses the structure of a deck of cards as its framework. But Richard Turner can do things with a stack of 52 that defy belief. The charming Texas hoodwinker, who is legally blind, is the unreal deal.
Luminato, June 8 to 17. luminato.com or 416-368-4849.