TORONTO’S OPERA ATELIER & TAFELMUSIK BAROQUE ORCHESTRA REVISIT CHATEAU DE VERSAILLES

ATELIER1 Terrorism or no terrorism, the show must go on. One week after the horrifying attacks in Paris, two of Canada’s finest arts companies – 75 strong – are again performing at the Royal Opera House <PHOTO ABOVE> in the Chateau de Versailles.

ATELIER2The performance this time is dedicated to the victims of the Bataclan concert hall massacre, and began with the French national anthem, ‘La Marseillaise’. The work being performed is ‘Armide’, a French opera set in Syria during the crusades. “It’s a sort of Romeo and Juliet. A Christian knight and a Muslim warrior princess, they fall in love when they shouldn’t,” said David Fallis, the conductor of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.

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“I still can’t believe that this is the piece we brought here,” said Marshall Pynkoski, co-founder and co-artistic director of Opera Atelier. “I’ve never seen our art form put to better or more profound use.”<PHOTOS ABOVE AND BELOW – Opera Atelier’s 2015 production of ‘Armide’, photographer Bruce Zinger>

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Opera Atelier was founded in 1985 by co-artistic director MARSHALL PYNKOSKI and his dancer/choreographer wife, JEANETTE LAJEUNESSE ZINGG. Their plan was to perform Baroque operas in their “original theatrical modes.” The Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra was founded in 1979.  Both companies have performed several times over the last few years at the Royal Opera House in Versailles. Their home-base is TORONTO.

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APPROVAL RATINGS HAVE COME IN FOR TORONTO MAYOR JOHN TORY & PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU

JUSTIN&JOHN3 JUSTIN&JOHN1TORONTO appears to be tickled pink with JOHN TORY. A new Forum Opinion Poll released on November 25 gives the Mayor an approval rating of 77% – the highest it’s been since he was elected in 2014. Forum considers the results accurate within 3%, 19 times out of 20.
JUSTIN&JOHN4Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU certainly had the approval of several hundred shrieking female (and some male) fans in Manila after his closing press conference at the APEC Summit. “He’s so handsome,” said one young fan. “He’s like Superman.” <PHOTO – Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press>

JUSTIN&JOHN5President Obama must be thinking “those were the days.”  The President has invited Mr. Trudeau to the White House in January. <PHOTO – Susan Walsh/Associated Press>

AN INSPIRING IMAGE LAST NIGHT FROM PARIS – THE EIFFEL TOWER IN BLUE, WHITE & RED

If steel girders and coloured lights can bring one close to tears, the Eiffel Tower hit the mark last night with its red, white and blue colour display.

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Gustave Eiffel, no doubt, would be elated that his creation could lift the spirits of today’s Parisians and those worldwide who love Paris – myself included – 126 years after the monument first appeared on the Champ de Mars.

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WITH CASH-IN-HAND, 1.75 KM UNDER THE GARDINER EXPRESSWAY MAY BECOME AN ANIMATED PARK

GARDINER2 PROJECT: UNDER GARDINER will have many hurdles to jump, but this time the money is there thanks to a $25-million gift from philanthropists Judy and Wil Matthews. TORONTO parks and public spaces have never seen a donation this large, or that kind of partnership.

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The elevated expressway will remain in place, treading its way through a forest of high-rise apartment and office buildings. About 70,000 people live in the immediate area, with more on the way. As well Southcore, an expanding financial district, is taking root in the neighbourhood.  For more details go to http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/public-space-project-reimagines-area-under-gardiner-with-paths-cultural-spaces/article27280670/

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Mayor JOHN TORY, back from a trip to London, was inspired by the Westway Expressway in that city.

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BORN ON SEPTEMBER 26, TORONTO ZOO’S FOUR WHITE LION CUBS ARE FLOURISHING

LIONCUBS1 Just over six-weeks-old and weighing around 14 pounds, with an innocence that belongs to the very young, TORONTO Zoo’s rare white lion cubs are growing up fast. The four cubs were born to mother Makali and father Fintan less than two months ago. “They have become quite fuzzy and increasingly more active,” the Zoo said in a press release.

LIONCUBS2For now the cubs are in the maternity den with their mother and have not yet made their public debut. Too cute for words.

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THE SELBY HOTEL – “WE CERTAINLY DON’T WANT THE THING FALLING DOWN WHILE WE’RE MOVING IT”

SELBY1 An 1884 Victorian home on Sherbourne Street at Selby is about to be moved closer to the sidewalk and then back again. Laurie McCulloch Building Movers of suburban Whitby are on the job. They’ve done this procedure at least a half-dozen times already in TORONTO – with great success.

SELBY4SELBY2Once home to wealthy distillery magnate Henry Gooderham and family, the house later became a girl’s school, then a hotel from 1912 until 2014. Writer Ernest Hemingway called it home in the 1920’s when he worked for the Toronto Star. The building received full heritage designation in 1989.

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MOD Developments founder Gary Switzer: “We have to move it once to build an underground parking garage and then move it back again to its final resting place. We see this as an opportunity for true city-building that incorporates the past with the present.”  The “present” will be a 50-storey tower developed by MOD and Tricon Capital. The Selby will be incorporated at its base and will house amenities for residents and some retail space.

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SCULPTOR SARAH HALL MAKES THE SUN SHINE IN, DAY & NIGHT, ON YORK UNIVERSITY’S CAMPUS

LEAVESOFLIGHT1‘LEAVES OF LIGHT’ joins other notable sculptural pieces on York University’s Keele Campus in the northwest corner of TORONTO.

LEAVESOFLIGHT3Gracing the Life Sciences Building exterior, the glass sculpture is made up of one panel with painted imagery, four interconnected solar panels and an interior layer of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Text is from a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe about gingko biloba trees interwoven with images of the tree’s leaves.

LEAVESOFLIGHT4SARAH HALL, RCA: “I wanted to make a connection to the gingko trees on campus, explore the golden section, look at languages overlapping with images and make solar look beautiful.”

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FOREST HILL, ONE OF TORONTO’S WEALTHIEST NEIGHBOURHOODS, LIVES UP TO ITS NAME

foresthill2Once-upon-a-time FOREST HILL was a separate village, just north of downtown TORONTO. Amalgamated into the city in 1967, the neighbourhood is heavily treed and its undulating topography includes several modest hills and a nearby ravine. The village centre is nothing special, although excellent coffee and good food is on offer, but the surrounding streets are lined with mature trees and stolid mansions. foresthill7Statistics Canada pegs the average Forest Hill income at $102,000 per annum, compared with $41,000 in TORONTO’s Census Metropolitan Area.

foresthill10Notable Forest Hill institutions: Upper Canada College, Bishop Strachan School, Timothy Eaton Memorial Church <INTERIOR PHOTO ABOVE>, St. Michael’s College School, and Grace Church-on-the-Hill.