Luminato 2012 guide: 20 must-see events at this year’s arts festival

Luminato 2012 guide: 20 must-see events at this year’s arts festival

Einstein on the Beach (Image: courtesy of Luminato)

Luminato begins this Friday, and it can be a bit of a whirlwind. Everything from a Philip Glass opera about Einstein’s life to a gigantic food festival are on the card from June 8 to June 17, so both mind and body will be nourished. There’s even a huge cast of international guests coming through Toronto, like New York artist Terence Koh and New Yorker editor Deborah Treisman. But there’s so much to do, and we couldn’t possibly see everything, so we’ve created an easy-to-use guide that lists all of Luminato’s best bets.

Jump to: June 8 | June 9 | June 10 | June 11 | June 12 | June 13 | June 14 | June 15 | June 16 | June 17

June 8

The Somali-Canadian rapper behind the ubiquitous 2010 FIFA World Cup anthem “Wavin’ Flag” kicks off Luminato with a free outdoor show. In case you’re wondering: yes, he will almost certainly perform that song, and yes, you’ll sing along. Ghanaian-Canadian singer-songwriter Kae Sun opens. David Pecaut Square, 55 John St.,

Einstein on the Beach
Philip Glass’s reimagining of Einstein’s life hones in on the iconic figure with all the elegance of E=mc2. It’s his first opera, here for its Canadian debut, and perhaps not surprisingly, it tackles and discards almost all the genre’s conventions: there’s no plot to speak of, no intermission (the audience can come and go as they please) and no love interest. $49–$175. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 1 Front St. E., 416-872-2262,

June 9

1000 Tastes of Toronto
If we’ve learned one thing over the past year, it’s that Torontonians love street food. Luminato’s take on the urban food festival features original dishes from vendors such as Queen Margherita Pizza, Vertical and Rodney’s Oyster House, presentations from the likes of Luma chef Jason Bangerter, Kai Bent-Lee and Micha Kennedy of the soon-to-open restaurant Bent and Hey Meatball’s Rodney Bowers, plus an introduction from Luminato’s dreamy artistic director Jorn Weisbrodt. June 9 and 10. Free (food items are $5). The Distillery Historic District,

The Beethoven Marathon
A few years ago, pianist Stewart Goodyear performed all 32 of the great deaf German’s sonatas over nine recitals in Ottawa. This time, he’s condensing those concerts into a single day, playing the pieces in the order in which they were written. Bring a cushion—or a pillow, for that matter. June 9. $39–$85. Koerner Hall, The Royal Conservatory, 273 Bloor St. W., 416-368-4849,

June 10

New Yorker at Luminato
For the second year in a row, the New Yorker is partnering with Luminato for a series of panel discussions. The first will unite Canadian ex-pat Adam Gopnik with food writer Calvin Trillin for a discussion of the nation’s cuisine beyond poutine and donairs, and the second will feature an exploration about avant-garde theatre with playwrights David Adjmi and Young Jean Lee. Finally, Annie Proulx will make an appearance to discuss her decades-long career in an interview with Deborah Treisman, the New Yorker’s fiction editor. June 10. $30 for each event. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W.,

The Alpha Project
This British-born mentalist is a descendant of those 19th-century illusionists whose showmanship was as crucial as their tricks. Banachek, who counts David Blaine, Criss Angel and Penn & Teller among his fans, will perform a brand new show featuring hypnosis, séances, telepathy and all the other paranormal phenomena you thought were reserved for Victorian novels. June 8 to 10. $35–$45. Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, 207 Queens Quay W.,

June 11

Nicole Krauss
Nicole Krauss is one half of literature’s golden couple—her husband is Everything is Illuminated scribe Jonathan Safran Foer. But Krauss is a luminary in her own right: her 2005 novel The History of Love was a finalist for the Orange Prize for Fiction, and her most recent effort, Great House—about the secrets held within a desk that passes through several owners—was shortlisted for the National Book Award. Here, audiences will get the chance to hear the writer read her newest short story, “A Garden is an Arrangement of Light.” June 11. $20. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W.,

Luminato and TIFF Go to the Movies
In honour of Luminato, the Lightbox has scheduled a sensational slate of films to complement the festival’s programming. The first batch of movies is centred around Robert Lepage (whose show Playing Cards 1: Spades debuts at the festival)—these include movies starring, directed by and about the theatrical visionary. Later in the week, there will be a screening of Sing Me the Songs That Say I Love You, a filmed concert in honour of folk singer (and Rufus Wainwright’s mom) Kate McGarrigle. Other films being screened include Jean Cocteau’s dreamy 1945 adaptation of La Belle et la Bête, Robert Wiene’s classic silent horror film The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari and a number of films scored by festival honoree Philip Glass. June 11 to 17. $5. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W.,

June 12

La Belle et la Bête
The tale of a beauty who falls for a beast is infinitely more interesting when framed as a love triangle consisting of a young artist, a disfigured shut-in and a much older witch (played by Diane D’Aquila, no less). And the show is certainly more fascinating when amped up by the tech wizards behind Montreal’s Lemieux Pilon 4D Art (two words: hologram horses). $49–$99. Bluma Appel Theatre, 27 Front St. E., 416-366-7723,

Irvine Welsh
The Scottish author and ex-punk hits town for two appearances. At Luminato, he launches Skagboys, a prequel to his 1993 novel Trainspotting. Then, as part of NXNE, Welsh presents Ecstasy, the Toronto-shot film adaptation of his book of the same name. $20. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., 416-368-4849,

June 13

Playing Cards 1: Spades
Multimedia mastermind Robert Lepage goes all in for the first of four productions built around the different card suits. Spades examines conflict through the lenses of two very different desert cities around the time of the second Iraq War: Las Vegas and Baghdad. $45–$90. Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre, 227 Front St. E.,

Loreena McKennitt
Before there was Enya, there was Loreena McKennitt, the original Celtic crossover singer. But beyond her New Age associations, McKennitt is a gifted songwriter and beautiful singer, known for her silvery soprano and revisionist balladry. At this free show, she draws from her extensive catalogue (Tennyson included), as well as her recent albums. June 13. Free. David Pecaut Square, 55 John St.,

June 14

Lewis Lapham
The most famous curmudgeon in the magazine world, Lewis Lapham, descends on Toronto. Lapham, the former editor of Harper’s and current editor of Lapham’s Quarterly, will chat with Kyle Wyatt, managing editor of The Walrus, about the current relationship between Canada and the U.S., as well as Lapham’s storied career. June 14. $20. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W.,

Tel Aviv’s Batsheva Dance Company, under artistic director Ohad Naharin, is known for developing a movement language it calls Gaga—no relation to the “Born This Way” singer, though both stress freedom and pleasure. This work incorporates vocalizing as well as the sound of slaps and caresses into a pageant that moves from tender to obsessive to something almost martial in tone. $25–$85. MacMillan Theatre, 80 Queen’s Park Cres., 416-366-7723,

June 15

Love Over and Over: The Songs of Kate McGarrigle
Kate McGarrigle might be best remembered for “The Log Driver’s Waltz” (now it will be stuck in your head all day), but she was also the matriarch of Canada’s most esteemed musical family. Here, she is honoured by her sister and her kids, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, as well as Bruce Cockburn, Ron Sexsmith, Amy Millan of Stars, Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene, Jane Siberry and Emmylou Harris for an evening that covers her extensive catalogue. Did we mention Rufus Wainwright is going to be there? June 15. $35–$250. Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St.,

Chris Cleave and Vincent Lam
Both Chris Cleave and Vincent Lam have enjoyed a kind of it-author ubiquity—a few years ago, you couldn’t take a streetcar without seeing someone carrying a dog-eared copy of Cleave’s Little Bee, with its distinctive orange and black cover, and a couple years before that, it was Lam’s Giller Prize–winning Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures. Both authors are back—Cleave with Gold, about the relationship between two Olympic cyclists, and Lam with The Headmaster’s Wager, a historical novel set during the Vietnam War. The two authors will chat with NOW’s Susan G. Cole about their new books and about the increasing effect of globalization on literary fiction. June 15. $20. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W.,

June 16

Richard Ford
Ford, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Sportswriter and Independence Day (not the Will Smith movie), launches his latest novel, Canada, at this year’s Luminato. The book is set in Saskatchewan—until now, a literary wasteland—and tells the story of Dell Parsons, a young boy literally trapped in the Prairies after his parents commit an unspeakable crime. Here, he’ll read from the novel, followed by a Q&A moderated by Jane Urquhart, whose quintessential Canadian-ness should complement Ford’s quintessential American-ness nicely. June 16. $20. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W.,

Kathleen Edwards and Dan Mangan
Two of the darlings of Canadian indie rock unite, rendering Dundas Westers giddy with excitement. Kathleen Edwards’ new album is a bittersweet chronicle of a relationship from beginning to end (although she’s doing just fine now, dating Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon). Dan Mangan is a newer arrival on the scene, but his lush folk-pop has seduced both audiences and critics—he won both the New Artist of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year awards at this year’s Junos. June 16. Free. David Pecaut Square, 55 John St.,

June 17

The Encampment
Fort York fell to American forces during the War of 1812. This commemorative outdoor installation replaces the bellicose with the pacific, inviting 200 artistic collaborators to fill 200 A-frame tents with material that brings to life the very human stories that often get brushed aside by battle-obsessed historians. Fort York National Historic Site, 100 Garrison Rd., 416-392-6907,

Luminato Finale
The year 1812 was a big one for ill-considered military exploits: Napoleon invaded Russia, and the United States declared war on Britain (and fought many of the battles in what is
now Canada). At this outdoor concert, the TSO blasts off with Tchaikovsky’s kid-friendly “1812 Overture” (those cannons!) and, in an inspired bit of programming, introduces a new work by Philip Glass, “Overture for 2012,” to commemorate the bicentennial of that nation-forming war. June 17. David Pecaut Square, 55 John St.,