An electric evening with MØ, a vintage photo exhibit and five other things to see, hear and do in Toronto this week
A Scandinavian sensation
1Denmark’s Karen Marie Ørsted—better known by her stage name, MØ, which is notoriously difficult for English-speakers to pronounce—is at the crest of Scandinavia’s ongoing electro-pop wave. When her music first surfaced on charts back in 2014, she was compared to Grimes, Twin Shadow and Lana Del Rey, and the following year she collaborated with Major Lazer and DJ Snake for their chart fixture “Lean On.” Coasting on her global success, she’s headed on a world tour to promote her latest album, 2018’s Forever Neverland, which offers ultra-clear production, an unbroken chain of hooks and pure pop bliss. Wednesday, January 23. $30–$75. The Danforth.
A vintage photo exhibit
2Exploring Carole and Howard Tanenbaum’s vintage photographs can feel like snooping through your grandparents’ basement. The philanthropist couple has carefully curated a collection of thousands of shots as eclectic as it is intimate. Howard’s contribution, which includes daguerreotypes and prints from the 1840s to the 1910s, is a record of the early days of photography. For Carole, collecting was about community. She sought to promote up-and-coming photographers such as Rafael Goldchain and Edward Burtynsky, both just starting out in 1980s Toronto. Taken together, the Tanenbaum exhibit represents the two ways of looking at a photograph: as a piece of art and as a piece of history. Wednesday, January 23 to Sunday, April 7. Free. Ryerson Image Centre.
A winter feast
3If you’ve been slacking on your New Year’s healthy eating resolution, here’s a good excuse to push it back (again). For the next two weeks, around 200 of the city’s top restaurants are serving up three-course prix fixe menus for Winterlicious, with dishes and drinks inspired by the season. A few of the hot spots include the Drake Hotel, with a menu that includes an aged cheddar beer cheese soup starter and a tea-brined pork chop main; Miku, serving miso baked sablefish and butter-poached lobster tail; and Argentinian-inspired piri piri barbecue chicken from Leña. Friday, January 25 to Thursday, February 7. Lunch menus starting at $23. Various locations.
A glance at historic China
4To celebrate the Chinese New Year and usher in the Year of the Pig, the ROM is transforming its fourth-floor textiles and costume gallery into an exhibit of traditional Chinese ancestral portraits and deity prints, which date back to the revolutionary birth of modern China at the turn of the 20th century. The collection features more than 100 works, including intricately painted portraits and ornate scrolls believed to be talismans for protection and good luck, and offers an exquisite look at the family values, rituals and rites of one of the world’s oldest and richest cultures. Saturday, January 26 to Sunday, September 15. $20. ROM.
An operatic blood bath
5Richard Strauss’s one-act opera, Elektra, a contender for the bloodiest ever written, has provoked debate since it first premiered in Dresden more than a century ago. Distilled from Greek tragedy, the plot is like something out of a slasher film. At its centre is an extraordinarily dysfunctional family in which two siblings seek vengeance against their mother and her new lover for killing their father. The performance features five main characters, their voices up against a booming orchestra. (At rehearsals, Strauss is said to have asked for more volume, claiming he could still hear the singer.) Soprano Christine Goerke brings the hate-filled title character to life with such believable vehemence that she almost has you cheering her on. Saturday, January 26 to Friday, February 22. $110–$350. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.
A Kate Hennig encore
6Canadian actress and playwright Kate Hennig takes the biographies of some of history’s most notorious monarchs and retells their stories in the 21st century. The Last Wife, the debut play in her Tudor trilogy—centring around Henry VIII and his sixth wife, Katherine Parr—had its world premiere during a sold-out and extended run at the Stratford Festival back in 2015. Its highly anticipated sequel, The Virgin Trial, dives even deeper into the patriarchy and sexual politics. This time, Hennig puts a 15-year-old Queen Elizabeth I at the centre of the plot. When she travels to London to visit her uncle, she finds herself accused of sexual impropriety. As she goes through interrogation after interrogation, she must learn how to navigate the perils of courts, lies and victim blaming. Monday, January 21 to Sunday, February 3. $36–$64. Soulpepper Theatre.
An Indigenous portrait exhibit
7Photographer Roland Lorente and educator Aline Saffore spent several weeks travelling more than 10,000 kilometres across the east coast to capture the vibrant traditions of Canada’s First Nations communities. In total, they attended more than 20 powwows to create a portrait series that offers a glimpse into the lives of 30 of the men, women and children they met along their travels. To accompany the exhibit, 360 Restaurant is serving an Indigenous-inspired menu, which includes bison tenderloin carpaccio, smoked elk striploin with sweet potato cake, and wild garlic and mushroom bannock. Monday, January 21 to March 31. $28–38. CN Tower.