Big ticket items – including the much-anticipated remount of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson's groundbreaking Einstein on the Beach and Robert Lepage's new theatrical work Playing Cards 1: SPADES – will likely dominate this summer's Luminato, Toronto Festival of Arts and Creativity. But it may be the more intimate events announced on Wednesday that will prove to be must-sees.
Rapper K'naan and the genre-defying Rufus Wainwright will both play free concerts, along with smaller gigs by Boston's Debo Band – which mines Ethiopia's rich dancehall music – and Vancouver singer-songwriter Dan Mangan. Similarly, although a large encampment of 200 tents around the historic Fort York grounds will mark the bicentennial of the War of 1812, inside each tent will be visual works telling small, real-life, very human stories.
While the sixth annual Luminato will be presenting a number of banner performances – a newly commissioned composition by Glass called Overture for 2012, for one – the programmers have also chosen numerous smaller events to widen the festival's draw. These include a packed slate of literary talks, including a rare public appearance by short story master Alice Munro, as well as films, visual art and magic acts.
Luminato's new artistic director Jorn Weisbrodt, who has been on the job for eight weeks and is now the public voice of the festival, also stressed Luminato's commitment to artists as well as audiences.
"Luminato is not a theatre festival, or even a performing arts festival, but a festival of creativity," he said on Wednesday. "I am keenly interested in collaborations and in bringing artists from different fields together."
"I feel the festival before was like an orchestra with everyone playing in a different room … all the pillars were there but the roof hadn't been put on yet. I want to create this dialogue between artists, this meeting place between Canadian and international artists."
That international flavour includes Einstein on the Beach, first produced in 1976. This will be the first time the opera will be shown in North America outside of New York (a big get by previous artistic director Chris Lorway).
Also highlighted were La Belle et la Bête, a contemporary theatrical retelling of Beauty and the Beast that blends live action with hologram-like effects, and a performance of the works of the late folk singer Kate McGarrigle by a host of artists – including her children Rufus Wainwright (Weisbrodt's romantic partner) and his sister Martha.
Luminato runs for 10 days from June 8. General tickets for all events go on sale April 14.