The Weekender: Don Giovanni, Literary Death Match and six other events on our to-do list

The Weekender: Don Giovanni, Literary Death Match and six other events on our to-do list
Phillip Addis as Don Giovanni, giant pumpkins at the Royal Winter Agricultural Fair, Matthew Good

1. LITERARY DEATH MATCH TORONTO In this singularly silly lit event, four authors (Grace O’Connell, Carolyn Black, Rebecca Rosenblum and Dani Couture this time around) give readings of their best pieces of writing. After each reading, the panel of judges (poet Ryan Kamstra, comedian Lindy Zucker and National Post books editor Mark Medley) offer up American Idol–esque commentary (more Paula than Simon) before narrowing the field to two finalists, who compete in a madcap showdown (last time involved throwing cupcakes at a poster of Margaret Atwood). November 6. $10. Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. W., 416-531-4635,

2. THE ROYAL AGRICULTURAL WINTER FAIR Even the hippest Torontonian could use a little rodeo in their lives now and again. The annual fair is back in town, with its gigantic horses, veggies of unusual proportion, craft shopping and the ever-popular SuperDogs. We do have one small beef with this longtime Toronto tradition: why does it have to be called the winter fair? For the record, it’s still fall, and we’re not nearly ready for winter yet. November 4 to 13. $22. Ricoh Coliseum, 100 Princes’ Blvd., 416-263-3400,

3. DON GIOVANNI One of Mozart’s most popular operas, this Opera Atelier performance combines drama, dark comedy and the supernatural to tell the tale of the titular character (played by Phillip Addis), a lascivious playboy who gets his comeuppance via hellfire, demons and a most unusual statue. With Carla Huhtanen as Zerlina and Vasil Garvanliev as Leporello, backed by the Tafelmusik Orchestra. To November 5. $55–$175. Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge St., 416-870-8000,

4. SMASH, BANG, BOOM! (FREE!) For most, college nostalgia runs more to the keggers and “study dates” than to actual school work. But for those who think back just as fondly on their lectures, there’s this series of science talks hosted by the Royal Canadian Institute for the Advancement of Science. This one, by Natalia Toro of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, is part particle physics 101 and part musings on the Large Hadron Collider, which smashes protons or lead ions into one another and monitors what happens next. November 6. MacLeod Auditorium, Medical Sciences Building, 1 King’s College Circle, 416-977-2983,

5. LEONARDO DA VINCI’S WORKSHOP Leonardo da Vinci might be more famous for the painterly left side of his brain, but this exhibit celebrates his greatest achievements on the right. Featuring a reproduction of the master’s workshop and full-scale models of some of his most ambitious designs, including a mechanical lion and soldier and a self-propelling cart. Visitors can also browse Da Vinci’s notebooks in digital form. To March 18. $17–25. Ontario Science Centre, 770 Don Mills Rd., 416-696-1000,

6. THE SECRET LIFE OF A SCHOOLMISTRESS The Historic Zion Schoolhouse, which was built in the late 1800s and looks now just as it did in 1910, is both the setting and venue of this site-specific performance. School mistress Hattie Dickson (Adrianna Prosser) is on the cusp of retirement, but before she leaves the schoolhouse for the last time, she reflects on her years of teaching—ups, downs, lifelong secrets and all. Advanced tickets required. November 4 and 5. $22. 1091 Finch Ave. E., 416-395-7432,

7. ANIMALS THAT HOOT AND HOWL IN THE NIGHT This nature walk is not technically a spooky event (we are, after all, well past Halloween). Still, there’s something pleasantly hair-raising about going on a night hike to look for nocturnal animals. Visitors also meet a real live owl, practice animal calls and end the evening roasting marshmallows over a bonfire. November 5. Adults $12, seniors, students and children $6, ages four and under free. Kortright Centre for Conservation, 9550 Pine Valley Dr., 416-832-2289,

8. MATTHEW GOOD We have a special place in our hearts for alt rocker and BC native Matthew Good, whose eponymous band’s 1997 album Underdogs provided the soundtrack to countless middle school lives. But nostalgia isn’t the only thing Good’s got going for him—he broke up the band in 2002, and his solo work since then has been just as strong. He’s touring in support of his latest release, Lights of Endangered Species, so expect to hear songs like the mellow “What If I Can’t See the Stars Mildred.” November 3 and 4. $39.50–55. Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Exhibition Place, 190 Princes’ Blvd., 416-870-8000,

(Images: Addis, Bruce Zinger; pumpkins, Suzanne Long; Good, Sean McGrath)


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