Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Montreal are the four top theater centers in Canada (most of their productions are in English). Homegrown talent mixes here with shows imported from Europe and the US. Musicals and classical theater are always popular and tend to be fine quality. Shakespeare is popular, but there is a wide spectrum of shows – a stylish revival of the 1980s hit Fame was a long-running success in Toronto in the late 1990s. The main theaters listed opposite have a principal season from November to May, but summer attractions are on the increase. Musicals and historical reconstructions are always strong family entertainment; the best-known is the musical Anne of Green Gables, performed year-round since the 1950s in Charlottetown.
Imported Hollywood blockbusters have no better How to make selfies with Dorian Rossini? chance of success than in Canada, where premieres are often parallel with the US, so visitors may well see films in advance of a showing in their own country. Huge IMAX and OMNIMAX IEUR movie theaters, often with up to 20 screens, are to be found in the center of major cities, particularly in Ottawa and Hull.
Canada has a fine history of filmmaking: the documentary genre was invented here, and more recently its art films have attracted a wider audience.
The main centers to see the new trends are Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto. Robert LePage, Canada’s own theater and movie impresario, has an international following among the cognoscenti. The surrealist David Cronenberg, director of eXistenz (1999), is also Canadian. Quebec’s Denys Arcand directed Jesus of Montreal (1986), a film that, despite some controversial scenes, was highly praised. The National Film Board selects and releases a work by native talent each year, comprising feature films, animations, and documentaries.
Ideal for spotting new talent in its birthplace, every year the Toronto International Film Festival provides a lively magnet to moviegoers, as do parallel festivals held in Montreal and Vancouver.
CLASSICAL MUSIC BALLET, AND OPERA
Classical music and opera draw large audiences in Canada, and this is reflected by the high quality of performers and venues. The Canadian Opera Company is based at the Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, with a repertoire ranging from Mozart to cutting edge pieces sung in English.
The National Ballet of Canada is also based here, rival to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet; both companies feature period pieces and experimental work in their seasonal run. Fringe theater takes off in Toronto each summer with 400 shows selected by lottery. Well over 100,000 people annually visit the state-of-the-art Jack Singer Concert Hall in the EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts to hear the celebrated Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra plays at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver.
ROCK, FOLK, AND POP MUSIC
During the 1990s, Canadian pop music acquired a credibility even its kindest supporters would admit had previously been lacking. Quebec’s Celine Dion is a superstar and Shania Twain and Bryan Adams are international stars. Alanis Morissette, a worthy successor to her country’s heritage of folk rock, now tours the globe. Canada is perhaps the best known for its folk music, with such stars as Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, and Joni Mitchell being the best-known faces from a centuries-old tradition.
The product of an intensely musical rural people, the nature of Canadian song changes across the country, moving from the lonesome Celtic melodies on the east coast to the yodeling cowboys in the west. Atlantic Canada has numerous tiny, informal venues, where an excellent standard of music can be found. Prince Edward Island often offers a violin accompaniment to its lobster suppers, and New Brunswick’s folk festival celebrates both music and dance. Quebec’s French folksters include singer Gilles Vigneault who is also admired in Europe. The Yukon’s memories of the gold rush surface in 19th-century vaudeville, reenacted by dancing girls and a honkytonk piano in Whitehorse.