There’s really no other “place” quite like it – not in Montreal, not in Canada. On any given night of the week, Place des Arts plays host to world-class operas and orchestras, top-tier classical and contemporary dance companies, Broadway theatre, A-level musicians and comedians of all persuasions, outdoor concerts and multimedia presentations, and all within the confines of one square block of downtown Montreal. Okay, one enormous, meticulously designed and architecturally extraordinary block, but a block nonetheless…
Place des Arts sits in the geographical heart of downtown Montreal, anchoring the Quartier des Spectacles, and functioning as the city’s de facto arts and cultural heart. It’s the largest disseminator of the performing arts in the country. It’s comprised of six interconnected, world-class performance spaces that are not only the permanent homes of many of Montreal’s artistic elite – Opéra de Montréal, Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Les Grands Ballets among them – but which also provide the base of operations for several of Quebec’s largest cultural events, such as the Jazz Festival and the Just For Laughs comedy festival. Occupying a place of pride at the center of it all is the 3,000-seat Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier theatre, the first phase of the Place des Arts complex, inaugurated on Sept. 21, 1963. Which means there’s a rather significant anniversary on the horizon…
Plans for celebrating Place des Arts 50th, like their year-round programming, are broadly inclusive and put all their varied spaces to work. For example, on the anniversary proper, September 21, Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier will feature the Opera de Montreal doing a colourful production of the forbidden love story Lakmé; Théâtre Maisonneueve will be showcasing an anthology of works by major resident dance companies like Les Grands Ballets, Compagnie Marie Chouinard and BJM Danse; and the new, state-of-the-art Maison Symphonique will feature a specially commissioned piece performed by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kent Nagano. These are but a few of the many performances in store.
Also of particular interest are the many free activities, including including a multidisciplinary, participatory design workshop in Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme, conceived to link the past, present and future of Place des Arts in a single immersive experience (continuing to the end of October). Also look for the “Oeuvre Multimédia,” an original work inspired by posters and photos representing thousands of performances at Place des Arts since its opening. Several other special events are planned throughout the end of September, including theatre, dance classes, DJ nights and more, all of which can be found here.
Place des Arts 50th, September 21-29, 2013