The Weekender: Tosca, Robbie Burns Day and six other items on our to-do list
Based on a play by Frenchman Victorien Sardou, Puccini’s Tosca is set in Rome in June 1800. The opera is set while Napoleon was losing the Battle of Marengo, and as such, the political climate of the time drives much of the action. The titular character, a beautiful opera singer (Adrianne Pieczonka and Julie Makerov share the role), uses her many, um, assets to convince the corrupt police chief, Scarpia (Mark Delavan), to be lenient towards her lover, the painter Cavaradossi (Carlo Ventre and Brandon Jovanovich share this role), who has been sentenced to death for helping a political fugitive. Spoiler alert: this is not going to end well. Jan. 21 to Feb. 25. $45–$318. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W., 416-363-8231, coc.ca.
2. MOZART’S REQUIEM
Mozart’s last composition is powerful and haunting, even though he was only able to complete the majority of the opening movement and some parts of other movements. Peter Oundjian conducts the orchestra, rising opera stars Simone Osborne and Frédéric Antoun round out the cast, and teen classical pianist Jan Lisiecki, who makes his TSO premiere, tickles the ivories. To Jan. 22. $30–$179. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., tso.ca.
3. CRUEL AND TENDER
Fans of Canadian cinema are in for a treat with this play directed by the oft-awarded filmmaker Atom Egoyan. Before he set off to make films like The Sweet Hereafter, Ararat and Chloe, Egoyan was a major player in the theatre scene. He still dabbles in drama (he directed an adaptation of Beckett’s Eh Joe, which was performed in Dublin, on London’s West End and Broadway, the latter with Liam Neeson), but this modern update of Sophocles’s The Trachiniae is his first major Canadian outing in ages. In the original, Heracles captures a princess and sends her home to his wife (we guess she was getting in the way of his plundering?). Here, the tragedy is set against the war on terror, and Egoyan’s thespian wife, Arsinée Khanjian, plays the role of wife Amelia, while Daniel Kash is a general fighting in an unnamed African country. Amelia’s life is turned on its head when a young woman named Laela (Abena Malika) is delivered to her doorstep courtesy of the general. We hate when visitors show up unannounced. Jan. 21 to Feb. 18. $22–$99. Bluma Appel Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front St. E., 416-368-3110, canadianstage.com.
4. ROBBIE BURNS DAY CELEBRATION
The time has come again to celebrate Scottish poet (and national hero) Robbie Burns’s birthday—he would have been a respectable 253 this year—with traditional Scottish things, like haggis and shortbread. As is customary at every legit Burns supper, readings and live music are also on offer. Also, hot and cold cider will be served but, sadly, no whisky. Jan. 22. $5.71. Mackenzie House, 82 Bond St., 416-392-6915.
5. THE SOUND AND FEEL OF IT
Dance diva Peggy Baker showcases the city’s top dance talent in this three-piece program. The first piece in the program will be “In the Fire of Conflict,” featuring Benjamin Kamino’s choreography (which Baker herself premiered in 2008), music composed by Christos Hatzis, Beverley Johnston playing the marimba and lyrics courtesy of Minnesota rapper Bugsy H. Next, Baker remounts her Dora Award–winning 2008 solo, “Portal,” and the last selection is the world premiere of “Piano/Quartet,” which celebrates composer John Cage’s 100th birthday. The dancers—Ric Brown, Sean Ling, Sahara Morimoto and Andrea Nann—are accompanied by boundary-pushing pianist John Kameel Farah. Jan. 20 to 29. $28. Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis St., 888-222-6608, peggybakerdance.com.
6. MAPLE LEAF MONSTER JAM TOUR
Prepare yourself: exhaust fumes, gigantic vehicles and boys (and girls) of all ages squealing in excitement abound at this smash-’em-up show. And we are not kidding with those adjectives: the trucks, with monikers like Maximum Destruction, Crushstation and Northern Nightmare, run about 12 feet tall and weigh 10,000 pounds. If super-sized trucks slamming into one another isn’t cool enough, ticket holders can also attend the pre-show Party in the Pits for free, where drivers are on hand for meet and greets (wait, there are monster truck driver celebrities? Well, it’s something for the kids). Jan. 21 and 22. $20–$125. Rogers Centre, 1 Blue Jays Way, 1-855-985-5000, ticketmaster.ca.
7. LOS CAMPESINOS!
In the six years since this Welsh indie outfit first broke onto the scene, their sound has evolved (more mature, less twee), the lineup has changed a little and they’ve produced four albums. Expect a lineup of faves from previous CDs, but we anticipate this show will be weighted more towards their most recent album, last November’s Hello Sadness. Jan. 21 and 22. $20. Lee’s Palace, 529 Bloor St. W., ticketweb.ca.
8. CIBC LUNARFEST
This year’s Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the dragon, which is far cooler than all the other years (insofar as it is named after a fire-breathing dragon.) Get in on the action with this brand-new Harbourfront cultural fest, with programming that includes kid-friendly games, traditional Chinese dance, puppet shows and an enormous walk-in lantern filled with marine-themed installations like paper replicas of sharks, whales and brightly coloured fish. It’s a way to swim with the sharks without getting bitten. Jan. 20 to 24. Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000, harbourfrontcentre.ca.
(Images: Lunarfest, CIBC; Tosca, Michael Cooper; Los Campesinos! album cover)