High-caliber music, theatre, circus and dance rule Montreal’s many stages this week while public outdoor spaces teem with entertainment, from street entertainment and interactive art to several free outdoor concerts that mark the start of music-festival season…
(urban activity) As Quartier des Spectacles gears up for festival season, take advantage of free guided walking tours that explore the history and current events of the area, in English every Saturday afternoon – plus, see performances on Sainte-Catherine Street (weekdays at noon and 4pm, weekends at 2pm), hop on one of the 21 Balançoires music-making swings, and at night see the animated projection art of McLaren Wall-to-Wall. As well, the Accès Asie culture festival continues in the Quartier until May 18, and on May 21, a day of theatre, dance and poetry marks UNESCO World Cultural Diversity Day. The Montréal Space for Life begins its summer program this Sunday at the 75-hectare Botanical Garden with music performances and more. Visit the open-air Atwater Market in the neighbourhood of St-Henri to try Quebec-made artisanal beer at the Atwater Market Beer Festival, May 16-18. Walk down to the Old Port’s Terrasses Bonsecours restaurant and bar for opening night May 15. Montreal’s favourite outdoor dance party in the park, Piknic Electronik, opens its 12th season with two days of electronic music at Parc Jean-Drapeau on May 18 and 19. And the triumphant Habs move into Round 3 of the NHL Playoffs, meeting the Rangers at the Bell Centre on May 17 and 19 – check out this guide on where to watch playoff hockey in Montreal.
(classical performance) Opéra de Montréal and Opera Australia bring Puccini’s last opera, Turandot, to the stage at Place des Arts, featuring an international cast and Hiromi Omura as the character of Liù. Montreal’s Les Grands Ballets hosts the world premier of Belgian choreographer Stijn Celis’s much-anticipated Transfigured Night, a two-part mythical and passionate tale of Orpheus and Eurydice and a mortal couple in the throes of complicated love, May 15-24 at Place des Arts. Montreal’s Chants Libres performs its 15th new opera, modern fable Le rêve de Grégoire (Gregor’s Dream) by Pierre Michaud, May 15-17 at the Monument-National. On May 16, the Montreal Chamber Music Festival presents Brassfire on May 16 as part of the festival’s jazz series – the fest continues with Israeli violinist Itamar Zorman and Giora Schmidt on May 21 and an homage to Beethoven on May 22. The Montreal Symphony Orchestra presents baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky in recital, performing works by Tchaïkovsky, Rachmaninoff, Medtner and Liszt on May 16, while on May 21-22, violinst and violist Pinchas Zukerman plays Bartók with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and conductor Kent Nagano.
(on-stage spectacle) Big-time entertainment awaits under the big top as Cirque du Soleil’s newest and wonderfully-entertaining show Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities delights audiences of all ages, until mid-summer in the Old Port of Montreal. Music-driven comedy-drama 2 Pianos 4 Hands continues at Centaur Theatre to May 25, alongside Souvenir, a play about atrocious – yet famed – singer Florence Foster Jenkins, May 22-25. Contemporary British play Top Girls celebrates the accomplishments of women throughout history, at the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts, to May 18. Family entertainment is the name of Geordie Productions’ game – the company invites everyone to see Homer’s epic tale The Odyssey, to May 18. And Montreal’s contemporary dance scene shines in Marie Béland’s Révélations and Adam Kinner’s The Weather In Times Square, May 15-17 at Monument-National.
(live art) International art and performance festival Festival Transameriques opens a public swimming pool in the Quartier des Spectacles – but this one’s filled with 25,000 balls inscribed with quotes from Stoic philosophers. The interactive performance-art installation Les Thermes (SOCRATES at the Spa), by five artists based in France and Belgium, opens at noon every day May 22-27. Montreal’s 2nd International Digital Arts Biennial continues to June 19 at 30 Montreal art venues, in tandem with the first edition of Montreal Digital Spring program, featuring, among the many exhibitions, Japanese artist and musician Ryoji Ikeda’s C4I at the Musee d’art Contemporain. Even more high-tech art and music can be found at the Ix Symposisum on immersive creativity at the SAT in downtown Montreal, May 21-25 – see performances by Irm, 1024 Architecture and more. And digital art centre Eastern Bloc kicks off its annual Sight and Sound festival on May 20, with innovative music performances and art installations by local and international emerging artists.
(rock out) Community-minded punk-rock festival Pouzzafest takes over 10 music venues May 16-18, including a free outdoor stage in the Quartier des Spectacles with music ranging from family-friendly folk-rock to in-your-face punk, including shows by The Hold Steady, Mad Caddies, SNFU, Dillinger Four and many, many more bands. On May 17, George Thorogood and the Destroyers return to Montreal at Metropolis, while rapper Hopsin rolls into town with DJ Hoppa and City Fidelia at Théâtre Corona, and alt hip-hop producer Gaslamp Killer delves into dark territory at the SAT. On May 18, sway to the danceable beat of British electro-pop group Metronomy, with openers Cloud Control, at Metropolis, or hear electronic indie-rock heavyweights MSTRKRFT at the SAT. Montreal’s own One Man Band Festival continues to May 18- don’t miss free outdoor concerts on Friday at noon and 4pm in the Quartier des Spectacles near Place des Arts, Rich Aucoin’s high-energy Friday night show at Sala Rossa, more free music at the McCord Museum on Saturday afternoon and at the McAuslan brewery terrasse on Sunday afternoon. On May 20, L.A. glam-metal band Steel Panther shred and laugh it up at Metropolis, while 2014 Canadian Radio Music Award Winners Head of the Heard play Divan Orange. On May 22, long-time British hitmakers Morcheeba play a soulful mix of downtempo pop-rock fused with trip-hop, at Metropolis, while now-legendary Japanese psych-rock collective Acid Mothers Temple honour their reputation for being louder than loud at Il Motore.
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