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The Gilded Stage: David Leventi’s photos of the world’s most opulent opera houses

David Leventi photographs of opulent opera houses

(Images: courtesy of Bau-Xi Gallery)

When David Leventi was a kid, his grandfather, a Romanian cantor named Anton Gutman, would sing arias in the family’s Westchester house, swanning around the living room like it was the stage at La Scala. Gutman’s aspirations for operatic glory had been stymied in World War II, when he landed in a Russian POW camp, forced to perform for Red Army officers.

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The Sound and the Furor: R. Murray Schafer’s Apocalypsis gets an epic production at Luminato

Apocalypsis composer R. Murray Schafer

(Image: courtesy of Espirit Orchestra)

This month, Luminato will mount Apocalypsis, an oratorio by the 81-year-old composer R. Murray Schafer. The production features 24 dancers, 12 string quartets, 142 brass musicians, 750 singers and a battalion of technicians. There will be at least 1,000 performers, which means that there are 1,000 ways everything could go wrong. And yet, if all goes right, the show will be more formidable than any CGI-enhanced summer blockbuster.

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Road Shows: a wanderluster’s guide to bucolic cultural day trips

road-shows-intro

(Image: Map by Aleksandar Janicijevic)

 

elora-badge

The Elora Festival features a lineup of jazz and classical concerts in an open-air barn near Guelph. July 10 to 26, 136 Metcalfe St., Elora.
 1.5-hr drive
Pit stop: The carrot-hued Cheltenham Badlands off the Bruce Trail, now sadly only viewable from a distance.

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Behind the scenes with the cast of the National Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty

(Image: Daniel Neuhaus)

(Image: Daniel Neuhaus)

In 1972, the sneering, stately Russian dance icon Rudolf Nureyev joined the National Ballet of Canada to stage a sumptuous new production of Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty. For the title character—a deceptively strenuous role whose player usually wears through five pairs of slippers per night—he chose a gawky young ballerina: Karen Kain, who later became Canada’s most beloved ballet superstar and the company’s artistic director. Nearly half a century later, Kain has created a new generation of ballet superstars: she recently promoted 17 dancers to soloist and principal positions, and many of them are performing in a remount of Nureyev’s grand opus this week. Here, a look at the glittering new brigade of ballet talent, behind the scenes at a recent performance of The Sleeping Beauty.

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Reasons to Love Toronto Now: because this guy made CanStage great again

(Image: courtesy of CanStage)

(Image: courtesy of CanStage)

Matthew Jocelyn was born in Toronto’s east end, but everything about him screams European bon vivant: he has a closetful of Yves Montand turtlenecks, a whiff of a French accent from years spent living on the continent and a recklessly avant-garde sensibility. Which is what made it such a shock when he was hired as the artistic director of Canadian Stage in 2009.

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Reasons to Love Toronto Now: because our new library is a modern Agora

(Image: courtesy of TPL)

(Image: courtesy of TPL)

Just south of the Scarborough Civic Centre is the Toronto Public Library’s 100th branch—a capstone for the busiest urban library system in the world. Decidedly contemporary, the building’s roofs pitch at alternating angles, the better to show off the wild plantings that will eventually cover them.

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Reasons to Love Toronto Now: because Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara are the Schitt

(Image: courtesy of CBC)

(Image: courtesy of CBC)

It’s been a long time since the CBC has had a genuine, spit-out-your-smoothie hit on its hands. This year, however, the network released Schitt’s Creek, a fresh, acerbic sitcom made must-see by the small-screen reunion of Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy.

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Reasons to Love Toronto Now: because the city is our canvas

(Images: Erin Leydon)

(Images: Erin Leydon)

Four years ago, Rob Ford and his heavies were power-washing graffiti (both artful and vandalistic) wherever they could find it. In the po-Fo era, city hall is actively embracing the stuff, commissioning dozens of underpass murals and alley paintings. This new graffiti gusto has unleashed a torrent of creativity among Toronto street artists, who are beautifying the city’s surfaces with cheeky, radiant works. Here, a tour of our 10 favourites.

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Reasons to Love Toronto Now: because there’s a kids’ fun factory in Liberty Village

(Image: Kagan Mcleod)

(Image: Kagan Mcleod)

This spring, the under-six set will get their own theme park: the Children’s Discovery Centre, a 20,000-square-foot complex at Garrison Point that’s serving as a pilot project for a future permanent site. It’s the city’s only kids’ museum, but that fusty phrase doesn’t do justice to the pint-size paradise. Its ethos is positively Leslievillian—no screens, no junk food and 10 “discovery zones” designed for hands-on fun. There’s a simulated campground with canoes, tents and rocks; a food hub with a demo kitchen and faux grocery store; and an expansive art centre with a squeegee wall and Plexiglas painting. The coolest part is a miniature Toronto cityscape dotted with construction sites. Because it’s never too early to learn about gridlock.

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Reasons to Love Toronto Now: because we have a magical mystery maze on Centre Island

(Image: Peter Andrew)

(Image: Peter Andrew)

In 1967, amid the confetti and trumpets of Canada’s centennial celebrations, Toronto’s Dutch community made its own contribution to the festivities: 2,000 White Highland cedars, arranged in an orderly hedge maze on Centre Island and christened with a vigorous clog-dancing party. For decades, the maze enticed kids with its Wonderlandian whimsy, but years of neglect and a lack of sunlight eventually shrivelled the trees into dry brown kindling, and the city razed the patch in 2011. The following summer, William Meany, a wealthy Calgary businessman, brought a group of associates to the Island; he’d loved the maze as a kid and had spent the entire ferry ride hyping it up. When he saw it was gone, he called the city to get the story—and ended up offering $200,000 out of pocket to rebuild it from scratch. The new maze, set to open this month, consists of 1,300 black cedars planted by boy scouts and Toronto Islanders in a lush, twisting 15,000-square-foot labyrinth just west of the original location. It strikes that fairy-tale balance between shimmery magic and Gothic menace—challenging enough to be satisfying but solvable enough not to terrify school-agers. The deeper you get, the more it seems like you might never find your way out.

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Reasons to Love Toronto Now: because grown-ups can play, too

First we played board games at bars, then it was axe-throwing in the backyard. The surge of adult-friendly recreation continues unabated.

(Image: Kagan Mcleod)

Track and Field
The new basement bar from the owners of Dundas West’s Montauk has four lanes devoted to lawn games like shuffleboard and bocce, and crokinole tables (think tabletop curling in the round) for sit-down fun. Trendy on-tap negronis and craft beer fuel the hijinks. Free for walk-ins; $40 per hour to reserve a lane. 860 College St. W., no phone.

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Reasons to Love Toronto Now: because the best-looking show on TV is filmed here

(Image: Getty Images)

(Image: Getty Images)

The nightmarish shadows, bleak landscapes and stomach-churning crime scenes of NBC’s Hannibal are all the more disturbing because of their vague familiarity—dead bodies arranged into a grisly totem pole on the beach by the Scarborough Bluffs, say, or a corpse strung up in a tree in the parking lot of Canada’s Wonderland. Usually when there’s a murder, the show’s charismatic forensic psychiatrist and serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, throws an elaborate dinner party. Hannibal the Cannibal adores entertaining, and the camera loves to linger on the ghoulish feasts he prepares from the body parts of his victims. Janice Poon, the Toronto food stylist in charge of designing the meals, is a genius at creating luxurious dishes that are equal parts appetizing and repugnant, seductive and threatening. Is that meltingly tender osso buco or a human shank? The characters’ voracious appetites often supersede their nagging suspicions. Because Hannibal is a charming man. And he cooks like the devil.

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Toronto has a new city museum, or should we say “Myseum”

(MyseumofToronto.com/Screenshot)

(MyseumofToronto.com/Screenshot)

The path to a genuine, city-focused museum for Toronto has been a difficult one, littered with hopeful editorials and wild schemes. The big problem is that nobody can afford to build the thing, but today a group of would-be museum administrators announced their proposed solution: just go ahead and start the museum with no building at all. Myseum of Toronto launched itself with a press conference this morning. Its organizers are billing it as a sort of mobile museum that will exist online and, starting in June, at pop-up events around the city. In late June, for example, the organizers say the Myseum will roam the city, collecting stories and artifacts from Torontonians.

The non-profit’s board includes former mayor David Crombie, a well-known heritage buff. The executive director is Karen Carter, the former head of Heritage Toronto, and the project’s lead sponsor is Diane Blake, who—with her husband, the financier Stephen Smith—has quietly been pumping money and energy into the effort to bring about an actual, physical city museum for Toronto.

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Comic Book Special: Toronto graphic novelists sketch themselves


sketch-comics-intro

Hundreds of graphic novelists will squeeze into the Reference Library on May 9 and 10 for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. We picked the seven local stars to catch—and asked each for a self-portrait.

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Comic Book Special: inside Toronto’s best-connected comics workshop


Click to see a larger version. (Image: Photograph of RAID by Dave Gillespie)

Click to see a larger version. (Image: Photograph of RAID by Dave Gillespie)

In 2004, a group of illustrators founded RAID Studio in a tiny workshop above a GoodLife Fitness Club on College Street. Now it’s a veritable hub of the geek world, where artists write, storyboard and illustrate comics for DC and Marvel. Here, a who’s who of the city’s hottest collective.

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Marcus To was the artist on Red Robin, DC Comics’ high-octane series about a renegade Boy Wonder.

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