Here are some Montreal arts and culture highlights for March 2017:
CLASSICAL MUSIC AND OPERA
Hands-down the most buzzed-about Montreal production of the year, the hotly-anticipated world-premiere of the Another Brick In The Wall – The Opera, commissioned by the Opéra de Montréal and based on Roger Waters’ legendary work The Wall, opens at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier at Place des Arts on March 11.
With more than 17,000 tickets already sold, the Opéra de Montréal has added additional dates to meet the demand for what is fast becoming a cultural phenomenon, with interest from promoters around the world.
The seed for Waters’ iconic 1979 masterpiece The Wall was planted in 1977 when Waters infamously spat on a fan at a Pink Floyd concert at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.
“My response to that was to write a show that involved building a huge wall between me and the people I was trying to communicate with,” says Waters. “I am very happy 40 years later that this piece that had its conception (in Olympic Stadium) with an appalling act that I committed all those years ago, should find its way back home to Montréal.”
Another Brick In The Wall – The Opera will be performed on March 126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.26 and 27. Visit www.anotherbrickmtl.com.
Over at the Corona Theatre on March 5, the McGill Chamber Orchestra continues its stellar 77th season with their Poperetta concert, conducted by maestro Boris Brott and showcasing singers from the Atelier Lyrique de L’Opéra de Montréal. The evening’s program will be comprised of excerpts from La Belle Hélène (Offenbach), The Student Prince (Romberg), The Mikado (G&S) and The Merry Widow (Lehár).
Bach Before Bedtime’s latest show is Mozart at the Opera, March 14 at 11 am and 4:30 pm at Tanna Schulich Hall (527 Sherbrooke Street W.). Founded by Allegra Chamber Music in 2008, BBB introduces children of all ages to a fun, interactive and sensory-stimulating series of chamber music concerts throughout the year. Reservations are essential.
Opera McGill’s spectacular 60th anniversary season concludes on March 10 and 11 with their Lisl Wirth Black Box Opera B!NGE Festival which will present seven operas over two evenings and a full day in multiple venues around Montreal. Tickets and information at www.mcgill.ca/music.
The third Edition of Festival Stella Musica will be held March 23 and 24 at Theatre Outremont, and will shine the spotlight on the talent and contribution of women in classical music. Performers this year include violinist Mary-Elizabeth Brown who is also the concertmaster of the McGill Chamber Orchestra
Over at the Orchestre Métropolitain, Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin – the Montréal homeboy who will become music director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York beginning in 2020 – conducts The Force of Destiny concert on March 12.
McGill Music Graduate Symposium presents queer classical pianist Darren Creech in his award-winning show RESILIENCE at Tanna Schulich Hall on March 10 from 5:30 to 6:30 pm. Creech will play works by Sarah Kirkland Snider, Janáček, Scriabin, Chopin, Prokofiev and Ginastera. Free admission.
French playwright Albert Camus’s famed play Caligula opens at the Théatre du Nouveau Monde on March 15, directed by René Richard Cyr. The play depicts the Roman Emperor Caligula, torn by the death of Drusilla, his sister and lover, before deliberately manipulating his own assassination.
Over at the Segal Studio, Black Theatre Workshop and Tableau D’Hôte Theatre team up for the much-anticipated co-production of Angélique, which opens on March 15. Written by late Canadian playwright Lorena Gale, Angélique is based on real-life Black slave woman Marie-Joseph Angélique who was sold to a Quebec government official for 600 pounds of gunpowder in 1734. She tried to escape and was publicly executed for allegedly setting fire to Montréal. Angélique, which features a live soundtrack by Montreal’s own SIXTRUM Percussion Ensemble, runs to April 2.
Infinithéâtre presents Honesty Rents By The Hour opening at the Rialto Infinite Studio on march 10. The play is about three strangers who meet at a cheap motel room in Montreal for a night of casual sex which quickly turns into a confrontation of identity, sexuality, religion, desire and prejudice. The play runs to March 26.
Montreal’s English-language professional theatre for young audiences, Geordie Productions presents three plays – Instant, Jabber and Water Weight – as part of their Geordie Theatre Fest at the Monument-National from March 21 to 26, 2017.
Over at the Centaur Theatre in Old Montreal, Governor General’s Award-winning playwright Francois Archambault’s critically-hailed play about dementia, You Will Remember Me, runs from March 7 to April 2; while the smash-hit Canadian play Kim’s Convenience presents the humorous and poignant story of a Korean-Canadian family and their convenience store in modern-day Toronto, at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts, from March 8 to 19.
Quebec dance legend Louise Lecavalier, formerly of La La La Human Steps, choreographs and dances in Mille batailles at Usine C from March 8 to 10.
Montreal’s iconic solo dance artist Margie Gillis launches her Legacy Project/ Projet Héritage in which she will be joined onstage by eight dancers reinterpreting her classic works, as well as world premieres of new solo and group work. This program is dedicated to Leonard Cohen who was a member of the Legacy Project/ Projet Héritage honorary board and was a longtime supporter of the Margie Gillis Dance Foundation. The show will be performed on March 6 and 7 at the Cinqieme salle at Place des Arts.
Montreal’s top dance series, Danse Danse, has partnered with the TOHU to co-present Until the Lions by internationally-acclaimed choreographer and dancer Akram Khan, in an exclusive engagement at North America’s only circular performance venue, from March 17 to 25. In this new work, Khan performs alongside two female dancers who are accompanied by four live musicians on the TOHU stage, transformed for the occasion into a giant cross-section of a tree trunk (see top photo). Until the Lions is a retelling of the Mahabharata, the epic Sanskrit poem, through the eyes of its minor characters, particularly women, based on Indian writer Karthika Naïr’s original reworking in verse. Audiences can also meet the artists on Fridays, March 17 and 24.
If you enjoy burlesque, some of Montreal’s finest will light up the stage at the historic Café Cleopatra on the Main, at Candyass Cabaret on March 17, with host, stand-up comic Tranna Wintour and special guest, drag king Nat King Pole.
ART AND MUSEUMS
Scottish artist Graham Fagen’s superb solo exhibition The Slave’s Lament consists of a video installation accompanied by music that is emblematic of his research on the slave trade, the inhumane treatment of deported populations, and on Scottish involvement in Jamaica. This major work, which allows for a rich examination of the motifs that put national and cultural identities at odds, continues at the Galerie de l’UQAM until April 8.
If you haven’t yet seen it, this is the last month to check out the McCord Museum’s major Notman, A Visionary Photographer exhibition on the life and work of the most important internationally-recognized 19th century Canadian photographer whose portraits and landscapes helped build the Canadian identity. This exhibition features some 300 photographs and objects drawn primarily from the McCord Museum’s priceless Notman Collection which contains some 450,000 photographs from Notman’s Montréal studio. Notman, A Visionary Photographer runs to March 26.
This is also the final month to check out the From the Lands of Asia exhibition at Pointe-à-Callière, the Montréal Archaeology and History Complex, which features some 450 pieces from the Sam and Myrna Myers Collection which houses one of the world’s most extensive private collections of ancient jade. This exhibition’s jade gallery boasts a gorgeous set of imperial Chinese armour adorned with golden dragons. The exhibition also includes a selection of pieces from classical antiquity, ivories, impressive Buddhist icons, porcelain and silks. From the Lands of Asia runs until March 19.
Meanwhile, opening on March 17 at the McCord, Fashioning Expo 67 revisits the world exposition that marked Canada’s Centennial and showcased Montreal designers and Canadian fashion for 50 million international visitors. The exhibition runs to October 1.
The superb Cinema Politica series continues at Concordia University on Monday evenings at 7 pm (admission is a suggested donation of $5 to $10), while FIFEM, the Festival International du Film pour Enfants de Montréal, runs March 4 to 12.
The ninth annual Massimadi Afro-Caribbean LGBTQ film and arts festival winds down on March 4 with a screening of Strike a Pose, the acclaimed documentary about the male dancers on Madonna’s 1990 Truth or Dare Tour, followed by a discussion with Jose Gutierez Xtravaganza, one of the most widely recognized personalities to emerge from the NYC ballroom scene of the 1980s, and who also toured with Madonna.
The Bell Centre is in the heart of the action this month with concerts by Eric Church (March 4), Ariana Grande (March 6), Simple Plan (March 15), The Lumineers (March 18), Green Day (March 22) and Bastille (March 26).
Meanwhile, Metropolis is also presenting some big shows this month, including The Tea Party (March 2), Regina Spektor (March 5), Sting (March 6), 3 Doors Down (March 12), and the Kanaval Kanpe benefit concert with guests Arcade Fire and Coeur de Pirate (March 15).
Other musical highlights this month include The Beatdown with guests at Quai des Brumes on March 24, the Hichem Khalfa 4tet album launch (free admission) at O Patro Vys on March 15, and bluesman Steve Hill – the meanest guitar player in Canada – plays his only Montreal concert of the year March 17 at Club Soda, which will also be taped for a live album.
Montreal drag legend Mado Lamotte presents her hilarious French-language stand-up comedy One Mado Show 2.0 at the intimate Theatre Sainte-Catherine on March 2 and 9 at 8 pm.
Disney on Ice presents Follow Your Heart! with characters from Finding Dory as they embark on a life-changing excursion to find her parents and discover the true meaning of family. Also performing live are characters from Inside Out, Frozen and the Toy Story gang, as well as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, at the Centre Bell from March 8 to 11 (English-language shows are March 9 at 7 pm, March 10 at 11 am and March 12 at 3 pm).
ILLUMINART features six works originally presented in Lyon in December 2016 – Bétonnière boule miroir by Benedetto Bufalino and Benoit Deseille, Évolutions by Yann Nguema and EZ3kiel, Éléphant rouge by Bibi, Face by Thomas Voillaume, Keyframes by Groupe Laps, and Bamboo by Christophe Mayer – which are on display on and around the free outdoor Montréal en Lumiere site until March 11, Wednesday to Saturday from 5 pm to 11 pm.
The theme of the 14th edition of Nuit Blanche on March 4 is Expo 67. There are plenty of free activities throughout the city (the Metro is open all night at regular rates), though the free Shatner Is Everywhere event at the Montreal Jewish Museum – featuring a Star Trek-influenced soundtrack by DJs Socalled and Rhys Taylor, plus a cocktail inspired by T.J. Hooker – looks especially fun, as does the 11:45 set by ABAKOS at the Phi Centre in Old Montreal (also free admission).
The 7th annual Artsida auction fundraiser for AIDS Community Care Montreal, a volunteer-based community organization working to enhance the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS, will be held March 12 at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, and will feature over 75 works of art donated by some of Montreal’s finest artists, including painters Daniel Barkley, Dominic Besner, Zilon and Yvon Goulet. The VIP cocktail is at 6 pm and the live auction begins at 7:30 pm.
Check out the thousands of butterflies at the Botanical Garden’s pretty awesome Butterflies Go Free event until April 30. The Botanical Garden is closed on Mondays during the winter (except March 6 and April 17).
Last but not least, to close this year’s 26th annual edition of Black History Month, the inaugural Gala Dynastie will honour remarkable Black Montrealers and Quebecers from the worlds of culture, business, media, sports, and community work, nominated in 17 categories (I was a member of this year’s jury) in a star-studded award show at the Olympia Theatre on March 5. For details, visit moishistoiredesnoirs.com.