Saturday, 4 October 2008

What use is sitting alone in your room? Come see the city play. . .

It's one of those perfect fall weekends when the weather forecast is favourable, there is a bit of a nip in the air and the city is full of exciting things to do. I'm out and about and going a bit European right here in little ole Toronto.

First up is the Canwest Cabaret Festival in the Distillery District. What a fantastic idea - four days of all sorts of terrific Canadian artists performing in fifty intimate concerts lasting an hour to 90 minutes each. Tonight I caught the Queen of Puddings Music Theatre (check out their cute website which even has a yummy pudding recipe listed). Two great singers, a dynamic piano player and a program of "crazy, crunchy tunes" all composed by Canadians. There was a wonderful variety - torch songs, love songs, a tango sung in French, a short haiku and some very funny numbers. How can one not laugh at a song called Asparagus Pee? I also loved two songs -Anglicismes and Injurieux - that were set to text from Raymond Queneau's very clever book Exercises in Style, in which he relates the same incident 99 times, but using a different narrative technique for each story. I have tickets tomorrow for a Kurt Weill Songbook event and then a Duke Ellington one on Sunday and a concert by the Barenaked Ladies' Steven Page. So much fun - I hope this becomes an annual event.

Tomorrow morning I'm checking out Salon du Livre de Toronto with my bookseller friend K. I've been to umpteen English language book fairs both in Canada and the U.S. and I'll be curious to see how a French one differs. And I wonder if I'll have the nerve to open my mouth. I can read French fairly well with a dictionary nearby, but I'm hopeless at speaking it and my accent is atrocious.

And then after the Kurt Weill concert, it's off to check out Nuit Blanche (well for as long as I can stay up, that is). The city at night becomes a huge canvas and stage for contemporary art exhibits, dance, and outdoor art installations - all lasting from sunset Saturday night to sunrise on Sunday morning. It's going to be wonderful to wander the streets filled with the city's art lovers. I'm looking forward to encountering the completely unexpected.

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