2019 in music
The distinguished Nova Scotian has gone crazy – crazy successful, to be clear. The conductor-soprano’s 2018 began winningly with a Grammy and a Juno for her album Crazy Girl Crazy, and ended with her conducting the Stravinsky opera The Rake’s Progress in Gothenburg, Sweden. In 2019, the Europe-based virtuoso comes to North America for a tour that has her singing and wielding a baton in front of the Cleveland Orchestra and, on Feb. 13 and 14, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. She’s not done, though: This summer, Hannigan brings her Equilibrium Young Artists mentoring initiative to Canada for the first time, for a workshop at the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance in her home province.
Everybody loves a comeback. After putting his career on hold when his young son was diagnosed with cancer, this past fall the swing-pop superstar released his 10th studio album, Love, a David Foster-produced collection of standards that includes My Funny Valentine, When You’re Smiling and Kris Kristofferson’s Help Me Make It Through the Night. And speculation about Bublé’s retirement was quelled with the announcement of a tour that kicks off on Valentine’s Day eve and offers nine Canadian appearances by the native of Burnaby, B.C.
Named Billboard magazine woman of the year for 2018, the pop star’s musical achievements were somewhat overshadowed by the death of her friend, collaborator and former boyfriend Mac Miller. A month later, Grande’s conspicuous, whirlwind engagement to Saturday Night Live comedian Pete Davidson ended. With the release of the peppy hit single Thank U, Next in November, the singer signalled her intentions to forge ahead. She has a forthcoming album and tour, with four Canadian arena dates this spring – Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver – before a return show in Toronto in the summer.
The opening act for the nocturnal sunglasses wearer’s summer tour will be Glass Tiger, a fellow time-travelling act from the 1980s. That band’s signature hit is Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone) – an infectious pop song, to be sure, but ultimately an expression of wishful thinking. Hart’s own comeback involves a coming EP (Dreaming Time Again, out May 3) and the Never Surrender singer’s aforementioned tour of 16 arenas and amphitheatres across the country.
They are starburst, they are golden, they are senior citizens. Speaking to the Poughkeepsie Journal, Michael Lang said he had “definite plans” for a 50th-anniversary edition of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. “I’m excited,” said Lang, the promoter of the 1969 counterculture concert and brown-acid experiment. “I am, indeed.” The original mudfest was held in Bethel, N.Y., near the current home of the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, which is also expected to commemorate the landmark event, independent of Lang’s vague intentions. Sounds like a race to get back to the garden – stay tuned. – Brad Wheeler
2019 in theatre
A Doll’s House, Part 2
There have already been Canadian productions of American playwright Lucas Hnath’s verbacious and very funny sequel to Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, but from the moment I saw this winning comedy on Broadway, I’ve wanted to see Stratford and Shaw Festival star Deborah Hay as Nora (who walks back through the door she slammed 15 years earlier here). Hay’s doing just that in this production directed by Krista Jackson at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre as part of Ibsenfest (where you can see Part 1, too) in Winnipeg (Feb. 20 to March 16), before moving to Toronto’s CAA Theatre (March 23 to April 14) as part of the off-Mirvish season.
Cyrano de Bergerac
Tom Rooney is one of the great comic actors of this (or any!) country, so don’t let the opportunity to see him play Cyrano de Bergerac under the direction of Chris Abraham at the Shaw Festival (July 27 to Oct. 20) slip under your nose. Comedic collaborations between Rooney and Abraham never disappoint (for example, their terrific 2017 Tartuffe at the Stratford Festival, which is being revived at Toronto’s Canadian Stage in January) and adding to potential panache here are Deborah Hay playing Roxanne and a new translation by Kate Hennig (The Last Wife) of the 1897 Edmond Rostand romance.
The Candidate/The Party
Popular comedic playwright Kat Sandler is up for a challenge: The Candidate and The Party, her new plays premiering in Edmonton at the Citadel Theatre from March 30 to April 21, are designed to be staged simultaneously in two different auditoriums. (British playwright Alan Ayckbourn tried something similar with 1990’s House and Garden.) The Candidate, on the thrust stage in the Citadel’s Maclab Theatre, concerns a national politician scrambling to avoid a scandal; The Party, which will take place in the Club, immerses the audience in a political fundraiser taking place concurrently. Artistic director Daryl Cloran directs with Sandler.
Tous des Oiseaux/Birds of a Kind
Montreal-raised playwright Wajdi Mouawad made a huge international impact with poetic, war-torn epics such as Incendies (Scorched), adapted by Denis Villeneuve into a 2010 Oscar-nominated movie. Canadians haven’t heard as much from Mouawad since he moved to Paris to take over the Théâtre national de la Colline, but now he’s returning home with his latest hit, Tous des Oiseaux, set amid the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mouawad’s own Colline production travels to Montreal for the Festival TransAmériques (May 22-27) and the Carrefour international de théâtre in Quebec City (June 3), before Antoni Cimolino directs the play’s English-language premiere at the Stratford Festival (July 30 to Oct. 13).
You know a production of Hamlet is truly original when a female actor playing the title role is not even the main talking point. Why Not Theatre artistic director Ravi Jain’s remix of Shakespeare’s play goes on a national tour this winter, giving Christine Horne a chance to deepen her melancholy Dane and Dawn Jani Birley, a deaf actor, the opportunity to win over more audiences with her award-winning turn as a signing Horatio. Prince Hamlet hits the Banff Centre (Jan. 11), the Push Festival in Vancouver (Jan. 23-27), Canadian Stage in Toronto (Feb. 6-24) and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa (Feb. 28 to March 9). – J. Kelly Nestruck
2019 in film
The next 12 months of film offer plenty of room for both redemption and resurrection. On the former count, look toward M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass, the culmination (or perhaps new beginning) of a sorta-accidental trilogy started with 2000′s Unbreakable. After his films The Happening, The Last Airbender and After Earth sputtered and almost pushed him out of the big-budget studio game – what a twist! – Shyamalan is surely hoping Glass is proof that he’s still got the Sixth Sense touch. Combining Bruce Willis’s superhero and Samuel L. Jackson’s supervillain from Unbreakable with James McAvoy’s multiple-personality-afflicted antihero from 2016′s Split, Glass is being marketed as a new kind of comic-book movie – one without any comic-book source material. It’s anyone’s guess whether Shyamalan’s ambitions will shatter upon even a cursory inspection. (Jan. 18)
Speaking of resurrection: Remember how the finale of Avengers: Infinity War revealed that half of Earth’s mightiest superheroes died? Don’t expect this sequel – possibly the most anticipated blockbuster ever made, given it’s been 10 years and 21 films in the making – to simply leave all those heroes to the sands of time. But by the time the dust clears on this megaproject, the Marvel Cinematic Universe should look at least a smidge different – or at least different enough to spark another decade’s worth of easily exploitable intellectual property. Whether you can stand the result or not, Avengers: Endgame will be the most unavoidable cinematic talking point of the year. (April 26)
All we know about Us is the following brief log line: “A mother and a father take their kids to their beach house expecting to unplug and unwind with friends. But as night descends, their serenity turns to tension and chaos when some shocking visitors arrive uninvited.” Okay, that’s not exactly all we know: The cast is stacked (Lupita Nyong’o plays the mother, Black Panther breakout Winston Duke plays the father and Elisabeth Moss plays one of the friends. Oh, and Us is also the first film from writer-director Jordan Peele since the 2017 phenomenon Get Out. Begin clutching your seat in terror … now. (March 15)
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Judging by the reaction to the very short, very thin teaser shown at last spring’s gathering of theatrical exhibitors in Las Vegas, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is expected to be the saviour of 2019 cinema. That might be placing all your proverbial Big Kahuna burgers into one basket, given that Tarantino’s latter-day output has skewed more indulgent (The Hateful Eight, anyone?) than revelatory. But there’s still a good chance this Helter Skelter-era Hollywood drama will be everything Tarantino acolytes hope it will be: violent, provocative, hilarious, dangerous and original – or original in that uniquely repackaged Tarantino way. At the very least, the filmmaker has assembled his most impressive and sprawling cast on record, with Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Al Pacino, James Marsden, Dakota Fanning, Timothy Olyphant, regulars Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, Zoe Bell, Michael Madsen and many, many, many more. (July 26)
In 2018, Netflix took its first stab at appealing to the Academy Awards with Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma. While it’s too early to say whether that bet paid off, the streaming giant will likely hit the awards race with a renewed sense of purpose this fall, as it releases Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. The long-in-the-works crime drama, focusing on a hit man who may have been involved in the murder of Jimmy Hoffa, has one of Scorsese’s biggest budgets on record (US$140-million, at last estimate) and, as with Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, has a cast emblematic of the director’s entire career: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel. Oh, it also stars Al Pacino, working with Scorsese for the very first time. (Release date TBD) – Barry Hertz
2019 in visual art
Isuma, Canadian Pavilion, Venice Biennale
The most important event on the 2019 Canadian visual-arts calendar is taking place abroad: The Inuit film and video collective Isuma will show their work in the Canadian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. This marks the first time Inuit artists have been invited to represent Canada at the international exhibition sometimes called the Olympics of art. Led by filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk and his producing partner Norman Cohn, Isuma is famed for Kunuk’s 2001 film, Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner; more recently, the company produced Helen Haig-Brown and Gwaai Edenshaw’s Edge of the Knife, the first film ever made in the Haida language. No word yet on what shape the exhibition will take, but Kunuk is committed to a high-stakes revival of traditional Indigenous culture through a contemporary global medium. (May 11 to Nov. 24)
Thierry Mugler: Couturissime, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts continues its tradition of reaching out to the decorative arts and design for crowd-pleasing blockbusters, offering a major retrospective devoted to provocative French fashion designer Thierry Mugler. With a flurry of feathers and scales, rubber and sequins, 140 ensembles will be on display including ready-to-wear, haute couture and theatrical costume designs, alongside images of his work recorded by top fashion photographers. (March 2 to Sept. 8)
Toronto Biennial of Art
Does Toronto need its own visual-arts biennial? The proof will be in the pudding next fall, when a new organization launches a 90-day exhibition of installations concentrated on the city’s waterfront. A growing list of artists and collectives from both Canada and abroad promises to create site-specific work in unusual locations along the Lake Ontario shoreline. (From Sept. 21)
Indigenous Quinquennial, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
The National Gallery of Canada unveiled the first Indigenous Quinquennial in 2013, so in 2019 it’s better late than never for a major survey that will feature 85 artists from 20 countries and 43 tribal affiliations, including 30 artists from 16 First Nations. Offering an overview of contemporary work, the exhibition will focus on performance (as well as including beadwork, painting and video) and will trace the links between contemporary practice and ancient forms and among global Indigenous networks. (Nov. 8, 2019, to April 5, 2020)
Impressionism in the Age of Industry: Monet, Pissarro and More, Art Gallery of Ontario and French Moderns: Monet to Matisse, Vancouver Art Gallery
It’s a good year for lovers of French impressionism and post-impressionism. The Art Gallery of Ontario is offering this large exhibition about the impressionists' encounters with the rapidly developing technology of their day, including such famed images as Claude Monet’s Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare (Feb. 16 to May 5). But it doesn’t stop there: The Vancouver Art Gallery is welcoming 60 major paintings from the Brooklyn Museum, taking the story forward to fauvism, cubism and surrealism (Feb. 16 to May 20). And in Ottawa, the National Gallery’s summertime show is an exhibition of portraits by Paul Gauguin, opening May 24. – Kate Taylor
2019 in architecture and design
Temporary House of Commons and Government Conference Centre, Ottawa
Any day now, the Senate and the House of Commons will officially leave behind their usual chambers for a dozen years of exile. The House’s temporary chamber will be a glass-and-steel addition in the courtyard of West Block, designed by Montreal firms ARCOP and EVOQ as a high-tech twist on Gothic. The Senate will decamp to the Government Conference Centre across the street, carved out of the city’s beaux-arts Union Station by Diamond Schmitt and KWC Architects. These spaces, although temporary, are both elaborate and laden with meaning, and their design ought to say something about what it is to be Canadian in 2019.
Does Vancouver have an architectural icon? It will soon with this 500-foot wonder twisting its way into place beside the Granville Street Bridge. Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group and DIALOG, the tower’s torqued form and metallic finish are genuinely lovely, and the way the building lands – with retail spaces and a Rodney Graham installation under the bridge – is almost as interesting. If the run-up in Vancouver housing prices has had all sorts of negative consequences, here’s a positive one.
Idea Exchange Old Post Office, Cambridge, Ont.
A new generation of library facilities is reinventing the use and physical layout of those institutions. Idea Exchange of Cambridge, Ont., will move this agenda forward: Entirely bookless, it will instead provide makerspaces, music and video studios and engaged learning. The building by RDHA, which won a Canadian Architect Award of Excellence, reinvents a stone Victorian post office with modernist drama.
Théâtre Le Diamant, Quebec City
This performing-arts complex promises a spirited conversation between new and old – an 1879 Second Empire building and a new concrete-and-glass “hyphen” designed by Quebec’s Coarchitecture, Montreal’s Atelier In situ and Jacques Plante. The main client is Robert Lepage, whose Ex Machina production company will have a home there, so the spatial and material richness of this place will spark some conversation.
80 Atlantic, Toronto
It’s sustainable, it’s strong and it smells good. No wonder many people in the architecture world are excited about “mass timber” (or engineered wood) for large buildings. Google sister company Sidewalk Labs is betting big on these technologies in its Toronto development project, promising a 30-storey tower. We’ll see. Meanwhile, a new office building in Toronto by Quadrangle Architects is delivering mass timber in a form that can be seen and touched. The idea is to replicate what many people love in century-old loft buildings and this crisp new structure promises to deliver. – Alex Bozikovic