Curious about opera but don't know how to put your toe in the musical waters? The Canadian Opera Company (COC) offers a few ways to learn about the art form. One of the best - and not just for first-timers - is catching a session of Opera 101 , a behind-the-scenes look at the company's upcoming productions. The season's first, hosted as usual by David Gale , is an interview with award-winning Canadian designer Dany Lyne , who's created sets and costumes for Verdi 's Macbeth (opens September 22) and Handel 's rarely produced Rodelinda (opens October 18). The free evening, held Friday (September 16) in the NOW Lounge , is part discussion and part Q&A, with a chance to have a drink while you listen and learn. See listings, page 101. And if you're under 30, you can grab an opera ticket at a special low price ($18 or $29) as part of the COC's 18to29: Opera For A New Age . You won't be the only one in your age group at the productions; more than 40 per cent of single ticket buyers are younger than 30. Tickets for the fall season shows (Macbeth, Carmen and Rodelinda) go on sale Saturday (September 17), 10 am, at the Hummingbird Centre box office (1 Front East). You'll need photo I.D. and can buy a limit of two tickets. For more info, check out www.coc.ca.
Friends and colleagues of actor, director and theatre creator Paul Bettis hold a celebration of Bettis's life and art on September 26 at Buddies in Bad Times (12 Alexander). The event begins at 7:30 pm; doors open at 7 pm.
Native Earth Performing Arts always offers some surprises in its annual Weesageechak Begins To Dance festival, the 18th in a series of new works by native artists that begins tonight (Thursday, September 15). This year the festival - named for a native trickster figure - adds a strong dance component. The dance element - works by Julia Jamieson and Christine Friday-Keeshig , the latter collaborating with BC hiphop artist Manik 1derful - also honours the memory of choreographer and dancer Rene Highway . A scholarship in his name, administered by Toronto Dance Theatre , will be awarded annually to aboriginal dancers in training.
But the company's not forgetting its theatre side. Mark Dieter 's RRAP offers a take on band politics, while Dawn Dumont 's Fancydancer looks at the native dance form "from a place of survival and rage." You can also catch scenes from The Death Of A Chief , an adaptation of Julius Caesar by Yvette Nolan and Kennedy Cathy MacKinnon , and excerpts from the works of six emerging playwrights who are part of the company's Young Voices Initiative. See listings for details.
Local theatre artists have been sharing their talents with audiences around the world. The site-specific and physical-theatre-based troupe bluemouth Inc. is remounting Lenz , a fascinating dramatic puzzle set in three hotel rooms, in New York City later this month. Though the company's set up shop in the Big Apple, don't be surprised if they make regular trips back to T.O. If you happen to be in New York between September 29 and October 8, you could catch a performance. Check out their website at www.bluemouthinc.com.
Or if you're in Ottawa between now and October 1, look for the premiere of Jason Sherman 's After The Orchard , inspired by Sherman's admiration for Chekhov . A riff on The Cherry Orchard, the piece looks at the negotiations within a Jewish family when they have to decide whether or not to sell the family cottage. Retiring National Arts Centre artistic director Marti Maraden guides a cast that includes Paul Dunn , Jerry Franken , Carolyn Hetherington , Niki Landau , Nicola Lipman , Michelle Monteith and Alex Poch-Goldin . It's a show we hope to see here in Toronto sometime soon.
Another production that should be part of our theatre season is Judith Thompson 's My Pyramids , Or How I Got Fired From The Dairy Queen And Ended Up In Abu Ghraib By Pvt. Lynndie England . The Volcano production, featuring Waneta Storms and directed by Ross Manson , was a big hit at last month's Edinburgh Fringe. It was shortlisted, along with three other scripts, for the 2005 Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award. Remount it here soon, please.