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National Arts Centre unveils a new season

By Greggory Clark on March 4, 2017

The 2017–18 National Arts Centre season is an exciting lineup of dance, theatre, and music, and will feature the NAC’s new performance spaces being unveiled this fall.

“At the start of the 2017–18 seasons we will unveil the completed second phase of the re-imagined NAC facility,” says National Arts Centre CEO, Peter Herrndorf. Designed by the renowned architectural firm Diamond Schmitt Architects, the NAC’s accessible new public spaces will offer breathtaking views of the city.

“With a magnificent new entrance on Elgin Street, the NAC will embrace the Nation’s Capital, welcome Canadians, and stand as a living symbol of Canada’s thriving artistic life,” says Herrndorf.

national-arts-centre-reimaginedA newly-built glass atrium will become the NAC’s glittering entrance on Elgin Street, facing Confederation Square and Parliament Hill.

Of course the new facilities are not the only aspect of the 2017–18 season worth getting excited about. At a glance, these are highlights of what will be on stage at Southam Hall, NAC Theatre, NAC Studio, and a fully renovated Fourth Stage re-opening in October 2017.


Orchestra

Alexander Shelley and the National Arts Centre Orchestra will herald remarkable guests including Itzhak Perlman, Emmanuel Ax, Lang Lang, Branford Marsalis, and Angela Hewitt.

Alexander Shelley conducts the NAC Orchestra. Photo by Fred Cattroll.

Alexander Shelley conducts the NAC Orchestra. Photo by Fred Cattroll.

The NAC Orchestra will perform over 50 concerts with some of the world’s greatest classical artists, pop stars, and with visiting orchestras.

Alexander Shelley says of the new season, “Our outstanding Orchestra will bring the essence of iconic characters and historical figures to life. You’ll hear Korngold’s Robin Hood, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherezade, Ravel’s Pavane, Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben, and Beethoven’s ode to the heroic power of human friendship, his Ninth Symphony.”

Itzhak Perlman (Sept. 13–14, 2017)

The world’s most famous violinist joins the NACO for a film music program with pieces by Ennio Morricone, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, John Williams and more.

Angela Hewitt (Oct. 5, 2017)
Internationally renowned pianist Angela Hewitt will perform in her hometown on several occasions in the 2017–18 season. On October 5, Hewitt is invited to the NAC’s Ideas of North Festival where she will perform Sibelius’s Symphony No. 2 and The Océanides, as well as the world premiere of new work by Helsinki-based Canadian composer Matthew Whittall.

Pinchas Zukerman (Nov. 23–24, 2017)

The NAC Orchestra’s former conductor returns to conduct and perform a program which includes Haydn’s violin concerto, Beethoven, and Mozart.

Lang Lang (Feb. 27, 2018)

An extraordinary, incomparable artist, Lang Lang plays with dazzling levels of charisma, incredible technique, and undeniable cool. One night only in February, Lang Lang will perform a solo piano recital.

Branford Marsalis (Mar. 1–2, 2018)

Master saxophonist Branford Marsalis will perform music by Russian composers Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840–1893) and Alexander Glazunov (1865–1936). Conductor Andrey Boreyko makes his first appearance with the NAC Orchestra and brings a signature Russian approach to the program’s folk-influenced music.

Emanuel Ax (May 23–24, 2018)

Superstar Emanuel Ax channel’s the melancholy and majesty of Beethoven’s most popular piano concerto, No. 5, “Emperor.”


Dance

In one of the NAC’s largest and most extensive dance programs to date will be the exclusive Canadian performances of Pina Bausch’s Café Müller and Rite of Spring – with Stravinsky’s score to Rite of Spring performed live by the NAC Orchestra.

A spotlight on successful Canadian choreographers working abroad will include Aaron Watkin’s Swan Lake (Semperoper Dresden Ballet) and international artists will travel from as far as France, Australia, Taiwan, Spain, Finland, and Israel.

Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch (Sept. 28–30, 2017)

The famous dance company will perform only three times in Canada, at the National Arts Centre. Café Müller (1978) and Rite of Spring (1975) are considered to be two of Bausch’s most important works.

Dresden Semperoper Ballet (Nov. 9–11, 2017)

The classic Swan Lake has been reimagined by Canadian choreographer, Aaron Watkin, and will again feature the National Arts Centre Orchestra in concert. NAC Dance Executive Producer, Cathy Levy, calls Watkin “one of Canada’s most admired dance exports.”

The National Ballet of Canada (Jan. 25–27, 2018)

John Neumeier’s thrilling ballet, Nijinsky, is theatrical tribute to a tortured genius, Vaslav Nijinsky (1890–1950). Nijinsky is said to have changed the trajectory of dance in a spectacular career that came to an abrupt end with his descent into madness at the young age of 29. “Nijinsky is definitely a jewel in the crown for the National Ballet of Canada,” according to The Globe & Mail critic, Paula Citron.

“Nijinsky is definitely a jewel in the crown for the National Ballet of Canada.”

Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal perform Dance Me. Photo by Jeremy Coachman.

Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal perform Dance Me. Photo by Jeremy Coachman.

Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal (Feb. 24, 2018)

Dance Me is BJM’s new tribute to a Canadian literary giant, Leonard Cohen. Inspired by his inimitable music, and using a selection of his most beloved songs, renowned choreographers Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Ihsan Rustem and Andonis Foniadakis have created a spectacular new multimedia work commissioned especially by BJM.


Theatre

“There is nothing better than good conversation,” says Jillian Keiley, NAC English Theatre Artistic Director. “I love the tennis match of argument and learning that comes from hearing and responding to someone else’s point of view.” English Theatre’s 2017–18 season delivers political, funny and courageous stories and Keiley trusts her audiences will have “plenty to talk about long after the curtain goes down.”

Daren A. Herbert and Hailey Gillis in Onegin. Photo by Matt Barnes.

Daren A. Herbert and Hailey Gillis in Onegin. Photo by Matt Barnes.

“Every now and again, I see the first scene of a show and I’m so impressed that I watch the rest of the show waiting to see if I can be talked out of programming it.”

Onegin (Sept. 13–30, 2017)

Says Jillian Keiley, “Every now and again, I see the first scene of a show and I’m so impressed that I watch the rest of the show waiting to see if I can be talked out of programming it. From the first note to the very last, Onegin had me hooked.” Based on the poem by Pushkin and the opera by Tchaikovsky, Onegein is produced by The Musical Stage Company, the Toronto-based creators of Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata.

887 (Jan. 10–27, 2018)

887 is celebrated theatre-maker Robert Lepage’s autobiographical journey through his childhood, in a Quebec that is “just beginning to awaken to its own promise.” Unable to memorize a poem he must recite, Lepage uses the “memory palace” technique, assigning stanzas to the familiar rooms of his childhood home. Re-opening the doors reveals more inside each room than just the poem he put there.

Betroffenheit (April 6–7, 2018)

Created by Canadians Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young, Betroffenheit is one of the world’s best-reviewed dance theatre performances of the past decade. “One of the most profound pieces I’ve seen in years,” says Keiley. Betroffenheit returns to the NAC following sellout performances presented by NAC Dance in 2016.

Up to Low (May 1–19, 2018)

A local show which premiered in 2015 at Arts Court Theatre – just across the canal from the NAC – has been picked up by NAC English Theatre. Based on the novel by Ottawa’s beloved Brian Doyle, Up to Low is the whimsical story of twelve-year-old Tommy, on the road through the Ottawa Valley with his father and boozy Uncle Frank. Adapted and directed by Janet Irwin.


Explore the 2017–18 National Arts Centre season at www.nac-cna.ca. Subscriptions go on sale May 23, 2017. Full programming for French Theatre, Canada Scene, and NAC Presents will be announced in the spring.