The week – as we see it here in Montreal anyway– starts off with a long, sunny weekend! Monday is Victoria Day and it looks like it’s going to be a good one, signalling the beginning of true Montreal summer. Outdoors is the place to be, with terrasses open, Piknic Electronik pumping and festival season is alive and kicking with theatre, dance, film, music and more…
(operatics & classics) The Opéra de Montréal says goodbye to spring and hello to the heat with Charles Gounod’s Faust, starring tenors Guy and Antoine Bélanger, the classic tale of eternal youth, pacts with the devil and paying the price – at Place des Arts, May 19-26. Meanwhile soprano Deborah Voight performs German opera classic songs with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, May 22-23 also at PDA. And opera goes interactive in Chants Libres’ modern adventure Alexandra, at Usine C, to May 19. And The Montreal Chamber Music Festival continues with world renowned Pacifica String Quartet and more.
(creative bursts) Cutting-edge and genre-bending performance from Quebec and around the world is the name of the game at Festival Transameriques, opening May 24 with German artists Angie Hiesl and Roland Kaiser’s X-Fois Gens Chaise, an installation of real, live senior citizens sitting in chairs in odd, high-up places above the sidewalks in the Latin Quarter, and Swiss-via-Brazil choreographer Guilherme Botelho’s dance piece Sideways Rain at Place des Arts. Art and performances continue to June 9 with the usual arty, mind-blowing, challenging work the festival is known for.
(green family) Hailed as the largest environmental and green building festival in Quebec, Project Ecosphere features over 200 exhibitor booths, live music, creative workshops and entertainment for kids, as well as conferences and talks, featuring David Suzuki, David O. Carpenter and Hubert Reeves, ongoing discussions, art installations, a film screening of doc Surviving Progress, and even an eco-fashion show, May 19-20 at Technopôle Angus.
(piknics & terrasses) Piknic Electronik, the world’s most awesome (in our opinion) Sunday afternoon outdoor dance party starts up again for the season with not one but two electronic music and dance filled days this long weekend! Get your electronic groove on. (The video above is not one image of a lie, by the way.) And the Old Port’s lovely Terrasses Bonsecours is officially open for the season, with four newly furbished terraces (with well-stocked bars and kitchens, of course) right on the St-Lawrence River.
(theatre night) Always entertaining SideMart Theatrical Grocery delights with award-winning show Haunted Hillbilly, about a country musician and a vampire at Old Montreal’s Centaur Theatre to June 3. Puppets, dark comedy and fairy tales combine in Scapegoat Carnivale’s The Heretics of Bohemia, a dream-like odyssey set on the mythical Bohemian seacoast, playing at the Segal Centre to May 19. Also at the Segal, top-notch Canadian actors star in Bernard Slade’s romantic comedy Same Time Next Year, to May 20. Montreal-made Poutine Masala fuses the tastes of Quebec and Bollywood in the story of a young Quebecois man who falls in love with an Indian woman, at Mainline Theatre, to May 27. San Francisco writer and actor Christian Cagigal performs Now at the Hour, about a man raised his Vietnam Vet father, at Rialto Theatre to May 26. And the 7th Montreal Sketch Comedy Festival brings down the house with improv comedy, May 21-27 at Theatre Ste Catherine.
(high-tech art) Mutek, one of the biggest electronic music and digital art festivals in the world, doesn’t officially start until May 30, but the festival couldn’t wait to start up Recombinant Media Labs’ amazing, immersive audio-visual installation Cinechamber, from May 22-June 3 at Excentris. Montreal’s own digital arts scene comes together at the Sight and Sound Festival, with installations, performances, talks and workshops exploring “Systems of Symmetry” at Eastern Bloc, May 23-27. Montreal’s International Biennale of Digital Art continues at the Musée d’art contemporain with an audio-visual installation by Carsten Nicolai, while Parcours Numérique, turns the facades of downtown buildings into artistic projection screens. And, less high-tech but just as technical, a gorgeous retrospective of paintings, collages and metal sculpture-paintings by Tom Wesselmann at the the MMFA.
(different & daring) Big-screen blockbusters are a given during spring and summer, but the 7th edition of the Montreal Underground Film Festival proves there’s more to movies than big budgets and the status-quo, including a doc on artist Boyd Rice, a zombie movie from Brazil and many shorts, May 17-20 at Peut-Être (6029 Parc). This weekend also gets loud with the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair, with plenty of publications for sale, workshops, discussions and kids activities May 19-20 at Centre Culturel Georges-Vanier, as well as a cabaret show on May 18 at L’Alizée (900 Ontario East). And the Montreal Roller Derby season continues with a match on May 22 at Le Taz.
(music for all) The music weekend begins with nothing less (or more) than a One Man/Woman band Festival on May 18 with Blootshot Bill, The Jon Cohen Experimental, Cocobeurre, Mike O’Brien and more at Divan Orange, and the next night May 19 with Wax Mannequin and many others at Casa del Popolo. The Musical Box performs multi-media The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, inspired by the songs of Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel-fronted band Genesis, at the Bell Centre, May 18. Local blog Midnight Poutine teams up with the Canadian Cancer Society for a fundraiser honouring the late Adam Yauch, aka MCA of the Beastie Boys – dance the night away with some of Montreal’s funnest DJs, May 18 at Jackie & Judy (6152 Parc). Punk in many of its incarnations comes on strong at Pouzza Fest (May 18-20) – and though the Lagwagon and Less Than Jake shows are sold out (try your hand at the door), there’s plenty more punk (over 100 bands!) where that came from. Late late night on Friday, Richie Hawtin DJs at Stereo Afterhours. On May 22, Local indie-pop darlings Hexes & Ohs launch their album at Divan Orange, and thenarchist classically trained, dramatically inclined men of Il Divo perform at the Bell Centre. And on May 23, Grim Skunk takes over La Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent).