In today's Urban Planner: some aria performances at Casa Loma, Freaks and Geeks trivia at the Gladstone, and Dearly Beloved plays a final show before heading overseas.
- Music: An aria is a lengthy vocal piece in an opera, accompanied by instrumentation. Throw in an ‘N’ and you have Naria, a four-piece, proudly Canadian (the ‘N’ stands for “north”) female vocal group. Join them on the beautiful Casa Loma terrace as they perform their original opera, pop, techno, classical, and world-infused compositions. Casa Loma (1 Austin Terrace), 7 p.m., $10. Details
- Trivia: TV Trivia Night is celebrating its one-year anniversary, and what better way than to host a trivia event featuring two shows that only lasted one year each? Back to School Part II requires you to get studious about two short-lived high school series—My So-Called Life and Freaks and Geeks. Come with a team of six, or show up alone and make some new friends as you answer a barrage of trivia questions in the form of video montages, audio clues and more. Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West), 7 p.m., FREE. Details
- Music: Toronto desert-rockers Dearly Beloved have some big things to announce. They’ve broken new ground, having just signed a deal to release their latest album, Hawk vs. Pigeon in Europe and the UK. The band has also recorded a brand-new single featuring Sloan’s Patrick Pentland. Before Beloved heads overseas for what should be a face-melting few weeks of touring, it’s taking a moment to celebrate at one of its members’ favourite live venues. Come by, pick up the album, and help send these guys on their way. Cherry Cola’s Rock N’ Rolla Cabaret and Lounge (200 Bathurst Street), 8 p.m., $20 with CD, $30 with vinyl. Details
History: The name “Mesopotamia” derives from a Greek term meaning “land between the rivers.” The Royal Ontario Museum’s latest major exhibit, which opens on June 22, takes this literally, as visitors flow between painted representations of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers on the floor.
Presented by the British Museum and rounded out with pieces from institutions in Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia, “Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World” covers 3,000 years of human development in the cradle of urban civilization. Most of the 170 artifacts on display have never been shown in Canada. Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queens Park), all day, $27 (Includes general admission). Details
- Theatre: If Fringe and SummerWorks aren’t enough to satisfy your summer theatre cravings, the world-renowned Stratford Festival is now only a bus ride away from downtown Toronto, thanks to the new Stratford Direct bus route (“the best thing [the Festival] has done in years” according to one usher at the Avon Theatre). Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino has put together a season to please tastes from the traditional to the extravagant. Here’s what we think about five of Stratford’s current productions. Multiple venues, all day, $25–$175. Details
- Art: Flight: A Thrilling History of an Idea is a new exhibition from the Toronto Reference Library that gathers a number of rare items that explore the theme of the possible and the impossible. Some of the highlights on display are La vingtième siècle: la vie électrique (a rare French book that shows how scientific discoveries would have affected people in 1955), Tame (a sci-fi pulp magazine), and Worldly Wisdom (watercolour that depicts a Leonardo da Vinci-like figure creating a winged flying machine). You’ll find the exhibition in the library’s TD Gallery. Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street), all day, FREE. Details
- Art: Arti[face]: A Wink And A Nod Can Mean So Much is a new exhibit of photo-realistic paintings by Jane Duncan (who was named an emerging artist in the 2013 Artist Project). The exhibit focuses on blank-slate toy models and aims to “animate and create a multitude of unique subtle narratives and moods using only the most basic tools and conventions of portraiture.” You can check out a preview of the exhibit here. The opening reception is on August 29th and starts at 7 p.m. Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West), all day, FREE. Details
- Art: BEARS IN THE STREETS *the world as I’ve seen it is a solo art exhibition by Jeff Blackburn featuring works that involve bears, which act as guides through various cityscapes (see above for example). Visitors will have the chance to see different public spaces from around the world (with bears!). The opening reception will be held on September 1st and will start at 7 p.m. Gallery 431 (431 Roncesvalles Avenue), all day, FREE. Details
Art: Ai Weiwei is a 56-year-old artist confined to his home in Beijing for creating work critical of the Chinese government and Chinese culture. There are video cameras outside his house, his phone lines are tapped, his blog was deleted, his Shanghai studio was destroyed in 2010 by authorities, and his passport was confiscated in 2011. To this day, he’s unable to leave his country. Even so, Ai Weiwei has had a large presence in Toronto over the past few months.
This past June, he did a performance piece with artist Laurie Anderson during the Luminato Festival, using Skype. His Zodiac Heads have been installed, temporarily, in the reflecting pool in front of City Hall. At this year’s Nuit Blanche, a large-scale version of his sculpture of bicycles, Forever, will take over Nathan Phillips Square. And beginning August 17, the Art Gallery of Ontario is displaying “Ai Weiwei: According to What?”, a retrospective of the work he produced before and after the Chinese government’s crackdown on his activities helped him find new international acclaim. Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West), 10 a.m., $25 (Includes general admission). Details
- Food: Condo-ville isn’t exactly known for its access to organic and locally grown foods. MyMarket is trying to change that with weekly farmers’ markets set up in the CityPlace complex. Residents can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables virtually from their doorstep, while supporting local farmers. Everyone wins! Canoe Landing Park (Fort York Boulevard and Dan Leckie Way), 3:30 p.m., FREE. Details
- Outdoors: Want to get out of the city this summer but can’t afford anything beyond a lame “stay-cation”? Casa Loma wants to help ease the pain with Open Garden Access nights. Roam four acres of impeccably kept gardens and green spaces, covered with hundreds of roses and native wildflowers. If they weren’t perched upon an escarpment with a breathtaking view of the city, you might totally forget that you’re still downtown. Casa Loma (1 Austin Terrace), 4 p.m., FREE. Details
- Theatre: Many people now routinely consume television series in marathon benders, blowing through DVDs or Netflix downloads in a few evenings or a weekend. It’s that sort of experience—but live, of course—that awaits audiences at Soulpepper’s production of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, which offers over six hours of impeccably staged and performed theatre either in two long evenings or over the course of one full day, with multiple intermissions and a meal break. Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Lane), 7:30 p.m., Various prices. Details
- Comedy: You might expect a show called We Can Be Heroes to be a send-up of superhero films, but Second City’s new mainstage production is actually a celebration of minor, everyday acts of heroism ranging from giving advice to a bullied child to managing not to be a jackass at your friend’s wedding. Second City (51 Mercer Street), 8 p.m., $24–$29. Details
Urban Planner is Torontoist‘s guide to what’s on in Toronto, published every weekday morning, and in a weekend edition Friday afternoons. If you have an event you’d like considered, email us with all the details (including images, if you’ve got any), ideally at least a week in advance.