International stars grace the classical stage

Richard Burnett

Opera, ballet and classical music lovers have a wealth of choices as international stars will grace Montréal’s finest stages this autumn and winter.

Discover more with our partners

Say You Want a Revolution

Under the direction of Artistic Director Boris Brott, the McGill Chamber Orchestra opens its 78th season with Revolution, showcasing the music of Shostakovich, The Beatles and Frank Zappa, with special guest, famed and infamous Canadian fiddler Ashley Maclsaac. Notably, the MCO will perform a new work based on songs from the iconic Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, in newly-minted arrangements by François Vallières, September 27 at Salle Bourgie.

The MCO season continues with their production of Handel’s Messiah, a much-loved Montréal holiday tradition, this year at the gorgeous Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul (designed in the Gothic Revival architecture style) on November 30; and their Christmas With Hervieux concert starring Quebec’s Prince of Tenors, Marc Hervieux, on December 20 at Notre-Dame Basilica in Old Montréal.


Grand Opera

The Opéra de Montréal opens its 2017-2018 season with an all-new production of Puccini’s masterpiece, Tosca, starring American soprano Melody Moore, one of the finest classical singers of her generation. Tosca runs at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier until September 23. Running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes, including two intermissions.

The OdeM season continues with Rossini’s much-revered opera La Cenerentola, based on the fairy tale Cinderella and first performed in Rome’s Teatro Valle in 1817. This new production co-stars acclaimed Italian baritones Pietro Spagnoli and Vito Priante, and Canadian mezzo-soprano Julie Boulianne in the title role, at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier from November 11 to 18.

Opera McGill showcases the outstanding professional-calibre work of McGill University students, and will present three performances of Ariodante, an opera seria in three acts by George Frideric Handel, at Pollack Hall from November 9 to 11.

A Night at the Symphony

Montreal is home to two great symphony orchestras, the Orchestre Métropolitain headed by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, lead by Grammy-winning conductor and rock star of the classical world, Maestro Kent Nagano.

In his 12th year at the helm of the OSM, Nagano launches the 2017-2018 season with Mahler’s sweeping Symphony of a Thousand. With more than 350 people on stage – including the OSM Chorus, mezzo-sopranos Allyson McHardy and Marie-Nicole Lemieux, and baritone Russell Braun – this symphony was described by Mahler as “the whole universe beginning to ring and resound.” Two performances, on September 21.

Maestro Simon Leclerc, meanwhile, is back to conduct the OSM for the orchestra’s hugely popular OSM Pop series, which will reinterpret the works of Montreal indie rock band Half-Moon Run, who will join the OSM onstage on September 26 and 27.

Other OSM highlights include Montréal, The City of 100 Bell Towers, a concert celebrating the rich religious heritage of “the city of 100 bell towers,” with classic works performed by three world-renowned organists (Rachel Laurin, Patrick Wedd, Michel Bouvard) at the Maison symphonique de Montréal on October 28; and Le Diable en canot d’écorce: A Christmas Story by Michel Tremblay, an OSM commission directed by René Richard Cyr, from December 19 to 21.


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 French Touch, an all-French program to be performed by the OM on its European tour starring the voice of renowned contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux, at the Maison symphonique de Montréal on November 22.

One Night Stands

Fun one-night-stands include one a much-anticipated concert with famed Grammy-winning American soprano Dawn Upshaw performing with the Brentano String Quartet at Theatre Maisonneuve on December 4, as part of the Pro Musica series; and if you cannot see contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux with the Orchestre Métropolitain, do not miss her with Les Violons du Roy in the Lemieux et Spinosi concert on September 30 at the Maison symphonique de Montréal.


Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal’s timeless adaptation of Casse-Noisette (a.k.a. The Nutcracker) by Quebec choreographer Fernand Nault returns to Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier for the 54th year. This two-act ballet based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale is set to the music of Tchaikovsky and brings together more than 100 dancers, plus the Orchestre des Grands ballets canadiens de Montréal under the baton of Allan Lewis and Florian Ziemen. If you have never seen it, this famed production is a must. The Nutcracker runs from December 14 to 30.


The Musical Genius of Johann Sebastian Bach

Finally, the Festival Bach de Montréal (Montréal Bach Festival) presents renowned local and international performers interpreting the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, including sensational German tenor Julian Prégardien, who will perform with pianist Tamar Halperin in The Romantic Era and the Reformation concert on November 28 in one of Montréal’s finest classical-music venues, Bourgie Hall. The Festival Bach de Montréal runs in several venues from Nov. 17 to Dec. 3.

Richard Burnett

Richard Burnett, blogger

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Google +