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The Alberta Ballet performing The Fiddle and the Drum. Photo: Charles Hope.

National Arts Centre reveals a new season of music, dance, and theatre

By Greggory Clark on March 3, 2018




The new season is an intriguing program of dance, theatre, and music, and will mark the National Arts Centre’s 50th anniversary.

Today the NAC Orchestra, Dance, Théâtre français and English Theatre departments announced their programming for the 2018–19 season, which opens in September of this year. NAC Presents is expected to announce its summer and fall shows in the coming months and the new Indigenous Theatre company will announce their inaugural season in 2019 for the 2019–20 season.

At a glance, these are highlights of what will be on stage at Southam Hall, Babs Asper Theatre, The Azrieli Studio, and a fully renovated Fourth Stage which re-opened last fall.


Earlier this week, the NACO released a new album and today announced this new season will culminate in a European tour with Music Director Alexander Shelley.

Two of Shelley’s predecessors will be returning to the NAC: Conductor Emeritus Pinchas Zukerman and celebrated British harpsichordist and conductor Trevor Pinnock are both booked for engagements with the orchestra.

Beethoven Festival (Sept. 13–22, 2018)

To open the season, Shelley and the NACO will perform Beethoven symphonies No. 1 through 9 and host lectures, chamber music performances, and a full program of events which celebrates the composer.

Renée Fleming (Oct. 9, 2018)

Four-time Grammy Award winning soprano Renée Fleming will return to the NAC for a one-night-only recital in October.

Amanda Forsyth. Photo courtesy of the National Arts Centre.

Amanda Forsyth (Nov. 14–15)

Juno Award winning cellist Amanda Forsyth, a long-tenured former member of the NACO, will premiere a new work commissioned by the NAC and written for Forsyth by Canadian composer Marjan Mozetich.

Revolution: The Beatles Symphonic Experience (Feb. 28–Mar. 2, 2018)

The NACO performs a tribute to the 1969 Grammy Award winning album, Abbey Road, the last album recorded by The Beatles, as well as a selection of hits from several of The Beatles’ albums.

Miloš performs Howard Shore (May 1–2, 2019)

Sensational guitarist Miloš Karadaglic will perform Canadian composer Howard Shore’s guitar concerto in this world premiere commissioned by the NAC. This will mark Karadaglic’s first performance in Canada since withdrawing from concert engagements for the entire 2016–17 season due to a hand injury.


This year’s selection of dance artists includes some premieres, fresh faces, as well as a coproduction with Vancouver-based company Kidd Pivot, whose highly successful piece Betroffenheit was a highlight of the 2015–16 NAC Dance season and is being presented by NAC English Theatre in April 2018.

Akram Khan. Photo: Jean-Louis Fernandez courtesy of the National Arts Centre.

Akram Khan Company: XENOS (Oct. 11–13, 2018)

NAC Dance will present the North American premiere of Akram Khan’s new solo work, which tells the story of an Indian colonial soldier in the First World War. The highly regarded British dancer-choreographer has announced he will soon retire from full-length performances – making this the final opportunity for Ottawa audiences to see the 43-year-old Khan perform as a dancer in a full-length work.

Lara Kramer: Windigo (Feb. 21–23, 2019)

Inspired by her Oji-Cree ancestry, Indigenous dance artist Lara Kramer created Windigo, an intimate piece performed by two men who struggle with a northern environment marred by violence. The sound design is punctuated by recordings made during Kramer’s trips home, offering a layer of contemporary Canadian reality to this performance. Co-presented by NAC Dance with Ottawa Dance Directive at the ODD Box (2 Daly Ave).

Kidd Pivot: Revisor (Feb. 28–Mar. 1, 2019)

Choreographer-director Crystal Pite and playwright-actor Jonathon Young captivated NAC audiences with Betroffenheita powerful and highly successful piece which sold out performances in Ottawa and which returns to the NAC next month. Audiences will have to wait for next season to see the highly anticipated Revisor, featuring eight dancers in Pite’s extraordinary style.

Photo: Rolline Laporte courtesy of the National Arts Centre.

Le Patin Libre: Threshold (May 10–11, 2019)

The highly skilled skaters of Montreal’s Le Patin Libre will make use of the Minto Skating Centre (2571 Lancaster Rd) for a remarkable show. This is not traditional figure skating, but a high-adrenaline experience Le Patin Libre call “contemporary skating”. The same artistic team brought Vertical Influences to Ottawa, which was a highlight of the NAC Dance season in 2015.

Alberta Ballet: Joni Mitchell’s The Fiddle and the Drum (May 15–16, 2019)

The Fiddle and the Drum was the first in Alberta Ballet’s popular series of portrait ballets. In 2009, Mitchell chose 14 of her songs to be choreographed by the contemporary ballet company, who will perform for two nights in Ottawa during the production’s 10th anniversary tour.

English Theatre

“Most of the shows are based on true stories and real people,” says NAC English Theatre Artistic Director Jillian Keiley.

“The artists who constructed our stories have looked deep, examined the viscera and challenge the surface assumptions. These are great characters on the surface, however what goes on inside them is where the magnificent humanity bubbles, and where the real theatre lives.”

L to R: Graham Cuthbertson, Tara Rosling. Photo: Claus Andersen courtesy of the National Arts Centre.

“Most of the shows are based on true stories and real people…”

Silence (Oct. 17–28, 2018)

The theatre season kicks off with Silence, the story of Mabel Hubbard Bell, who lost her hearing as a child, however, learned to speak and lip-read in multiple languages. At 19, she married the young Alexander Graham Bell. This production of Silence by Trina Davies is being directed by Peter Hinton, who was the Artistic Director of English Theatre from 2005–2012. Hinton last directed at the NAC the play thirsty in November of 2012.

The Hockey Sweater: A Musical (Dec. 5–16, 2018)

Based on the short story by Roch Carrier, this new musical by Emil Sher and Jonathan Monro (translated into English by Sheila Fischman) tells the story of young Roch, who wears out his Habs jersey until it’s too small and tattered to last another season. His mother orders him a replacement, but a department store mixup results in Roch being sent a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey instead. The world premiere of this musical went on an extended month-long run at the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts in Montreal.

Photo: Leslie Schachter courtesy of the National Arts Centre.

The Pigeon King (Apr. 24–May 5, 2018)

Written by a collective of Canadian artists and premiered at the Blyth Festival, The Pigeon King was inspired by the incredibly odd but true story of Canadian farmer Arlan Galbraith, who used what little money his neighbours would invest to build a bird-breeding empire called Pigeon King International, considered one of the “wildest frauds in Canadian history.”

Between Breaths (May 7–18, 2018)

Performed with a live score by Newfoundland folk trio The Once, Between Breaths is a novel collaboration between NAC English Theatre and St. John’s theatre company Artistic Fraud. Written by Robert Chafe, Between Breaths tells the extraordinary life story of east coast whale research Jon Lien, who freed more than 500 whales from fishing nets during his career.

Explore the 2018–19 National Arts Centre season at Subscribers can begin to renew their packages now. New subscriptions can be purchased as of May 7. Single tickets for most shows will go on sale June 25.