50 Years of the NAC
1969 Opening of the National Arts Centre
Forty thousand people flock to the NAC’s opening weekend. The National Ballet of Canada, including Prima Ballerina Veronica Tennant, opens the Opera with Kraanerg. The first English Theatre production is George Ryga’s The Ecstasy of Rita Joe.
1970 Le Groupe du Studio
Members of the NAC’s French Theatre company, Le Groupe du Studio, outside the NAC at the time of their staging of La Double Inconstance. Le Groupe du Studio was led by artistic director Jean Herbiet.
1971 Les Belles-Soeurs
The NAC’s summer festival, Festival Canada, features a sold-out production of Les Belles-Soeurs by Quebec’s acclaimed French Theatre icons André Brassard and Michel Tremblay.
1972 The Sleeping Beauty
The National Ballet of Canada give the world premiere of Rudolf Nureyev’s re-staging of The Sleeping Beauty, featuring Nureyev and Prima Ballerina Veronica Tennant.
1973 Gilles Vigneault
Always able to ignite an audience, Gilles Vigneault was a frequent and well loved visitor to the NAC. His appearance at the NAC in 1973 was one of his most memorable performances.
1974 Oscar Peterson
Canadian jazz legend Oscar Peterson appeared frequently at the NAC as a solo performer and in sold-out performances with Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass, among others.
Under Director of Theatre Jean Roberts, the NAC presented the bilingual re-staging of John Coulter’s play about Louis Riel. Albert Millaire played the title role in the production Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau said he “wished every Canadian could see.”
1976 The Queen of Spades
The Tchaikovsky opera, hailed as one of the best ever presented in NAC history, starred Canadians Jon Vickers and Maureen Forrester, and featured the NAC Orchestra under the baton of Music Director Mario Bernardi.
1977 NAC English Theatre Company
Company members Benedict Campbell, Eric Donkin and Jennifer Dale performed in Troilus and Cressida, one of the many productions featuring the inaugural company this season.
1978 NACO European Tour
The NAC Orchestra, led by Music Director Mario Bernardi, perform in London, Versailles, Rome, Venice, Warsaw,Riga, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other cities as part of their second European tour. They had previously visited in 1973, and returned again in 1990, 2000 and 2019.
This production by Artistic Director John Wood’s NAC English Theatre Company tours Canada and features the acclaimed actor Neil Munro in the title role.
1980 Claudio Arrau
One of the great romantic pianists of our time, Claudio Arrau performs Beethoven’s Concerto No. 3. The performance is one of the highlights of a season in which the NAC Orchestra presented all of the Beethoven
1981 Canadian Dance Spectacular
The NAC hosts the Canadian Dance Spectacular to mark the 25th anniversary of the Canada Arts Council. Featuring the top classical and contemporary dance companies from all over the country, the event was filmed for posterity by the National Film Board of Canada.
English Theatre presents Joey, a play about Joey Smallwood created by Donna Butt, Brian Downey, Sheilagh Guy, David Fox, Kevin Noble, Jeff Pitcher, and David Ross in collaboration with Rick Salutin, directed by Donna Butt.
This was an NAC English Theatre resident company production by the renowned Calgary playwright Sharon Pollock.
1984 Albertine, en cinq temps
The NAC presents the world premiere of Albertine, en cinq temps by Michel Tremblay. Directed by French Theatre Artistic Director André Brassard, all 26 performances were sold out.
1985 Helmuth Rilling
NAC Orchestra guest conductor Helmuth Rilling, Germany’s most renowned choral conductor, leads the NAC Orchestra in an unforgettable performance of Bach’s Mass in B Minor.
1986 Marble Halls
One of New York’s most popular contemporary dance companies, The Mark Morris Dance Group, performs a program of three ground-breaking works that includes Marble Halls.
1987 Anne Murray
Canadian icon Anne Murray first appeared on the Southam Hall stage in 1971, and returned throughout the 1980s and 1990s to sold-out audiences.
1988 La La La Human Steps
Édouard Lock and his contemporary dance company La La La Human Steps thrilled NAC dance audiences on many occasions. His edgy, dangerous choreography was never bolder than with New Demons.
1989 k.d. lang
Canadian singer-songwriter k.d. lang makes her NAC debut. She would go on to earn international acclaim and has returned to the NAC to perform on many occasions since.
1990 Le Dortoir
The NAC co-produces the multimedia dance piece with Montreal avant-garde troupe Carbone 14. The film won an International Emmy Award the following year.
1991 Robert Lepage
Robert Lepage, Artistic Director of French Theatre, performs his spectacular solo show Les Aiguilles et l’opium.
1992 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards
Quebec performer Dominique Michel is among the laureates celebrated at the first Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards show, presented by the NAC.
1993 Vie et mort du roi boiteux
ARTO (Atelier de recherché théâtrale d’Ottawa) was an innovative French Theatre program based at the NAC Atelier. This ambitious production of Ronfard’s challenging work embodied the Atelier’s mandate to push theatrical limits.
NAC Dance Producer Jack Udashkin brings a new wave of Canadian contemporary dance to the NAC. This NAC–PPS Danse co‑production featuring Jeff Hall and Pierre-Paul Savoie underlined the NAC’s role as an important partner and producer in the world of dance.
1995 Linda Bouchard
The celebrated Quebec composer completes her three-year term as the NAC Orchestra’s first composer-in-residence, which included premieres and recordings led by Music Director Trevor Pinnock.
1996 The Glass Menagerie
The 1996–1997 English Theatre season, produced by Andis Celms, brings two of Canada’s most revered actors — Shirley Douglas and her son Kiefer Sutherland — to perform in the sold-out run of The Glass Menagerie, directed by Neil Munro.
1997 Don Giovanni
Meredith Hall plays Zerlina and Curtis Sullivan is Masetto in Opera Atelier’s production of Don Giovanni.
1998 Pinchas Zukerman
World renowned violinist, violist, conductor and pedagogue Pinchas Zukerman is appointed Music Director of the NAC Orchestra. He would expand its size and repertoire, recruit exceptional musicians, increase touring, create the Young Artists Program and NAC Composer Awards, and pioneer distance learning in the arts.
1999 Peter Herrndorf
Visionary arts leader and broadcast executive Peter A. Herrndorf is appointed President and CEO. During his nearly 19-year tenure, he leads the NAC to unprecedented artistic and financial success as a national performing arts organization.
2000 NAC Foundation
The NAC establishes the National Arts Centre Foundation, and appoints leading arts fundraiser Darrell Gregersen as its first CEO. Now led by Jayne Watson, the Foundation has raised more than $150 million from donors across Canada.
2001 Restoring the Vision
The NAC releases its first strategic plan, Restoring the Vision, which includes four goals – artistic excellence, a stronger national role, a greater emphasis on youth and education, and increased earned revenues.
Marti Maraden’s English Theatre season opens with the world premiere of Vinci, a brilliant work by Maureen Hunter, one of Canada’s foremost playwrights.
2003 Scene festivals
Atlantic Scene, led by Producer Kari Cullen, showcases more than 500 Atlantic Canadian artists. It is the first of eight biannual festivals that will eventually showcase every region in Canada, culminating in Canada Scene in 2017.
2004 Pina Bausch
Dance, led by Executive Producer Cathy Levy, presents the legendary Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch after an almost 20-year absence. They have since returned to the NAC four times, three of which were Canadian exclusives.
2005 NAC podcasts begin
NAC New Media records its first-ever podcast, featuring Alberta Scene Producer and Executive Director Heather Moore. The NAC now offers five English and four French podcasts, offering insight and exploration into the performing arts through interviews with artistic leaders, scholars and visiting artists.
2006 Music Alive Program
The new cross-cultural program sends teaching artists to rural and remote schools in Alberta and Saskatchewan, in partnership with local artists, arts organizations and educators. It has since expanded to Nunavut, Manitoba and Atlantic Canada.
2007 Copper Thunderbird
The English Theatre co-production by Métis-Dene playwright Marie Clements, directed by Artistic Director Peter Hinton, is the first work by an Indigenous playwright to premiere in the Theatre.
Wajdi Mouawad’s inaugural season as Artistic Director of French Theatre includes his highly anticipated one-man show Seuls.
2009 Leonard Cohen
The NAC showcases the most gifted Canadian performers in popular music, including the legendary Leonard Cohen, who gives two sold-out concerts in Southam Hall.
The NAC co-produces the play Night with Human Cargo, marking the first time a production from Pond Inlet, Nunavut, appears at the NAC.
2011 NAC Presents
The NAC launches the all-Canadian concert series to showcase some of the country’s greatest music artists, including Rufus Wainwright. Now led by Heather Gibson, the series includes more than 100 performances a year.
2012 Year of the North
Northern Scene, led by Executive Director and Producer Heather Moore, features more than 350 northern artists, and the Northern Canada Tour takes the NAC Orchestra to the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut.
2013 China Tour
The NAC Orchestra’s seven-city China Tour includes a ConneXXions event linking Canada’s Stellae Boreales in Ottawa with music students in Beijing through digital technology.
2014 UK Tour
The NAC Orchestra’s UK Tour marked the centenary of the start of the First World War, and includes a concert at Salisbury Cathedral that was broadcast nationally on CBC Television on Christmas Day.
2015 Richard III
Directed by French Theatre Artistic Director Brigitte Haentjens and based on a translation by Jean-Marc Dalpé, the stunning production features Sébastien Ricard in the title role.
2016 The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God
English Theatre, led by Artistic Director Jillian Keiley, kicks off its season with this seminal work written and directed by Djanet Sears, co-produced by Montreal’s Centaur Theatre, in association with Black Theatre Workshop.
2017 Canada 150
2017 includes the Grand Re-Opening of the NAC after its Architectural Rejuvenation, the ENCOUNT3RS Music-Dance commission, the NAC Orchestra’s Canada 150 Tour, Canada Scene, and the 25th anniversary of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards.
2018 Christopher Deacon
After 22 years as Managing Director of the NAC Orchestra, the adventurous artistic administrator Christopher Deacon succeeds Peter Herrndorf as President and CEO, becoming the first person to be promoted to the position from within the NAC.
2019 Indigenous Theatre
The first season begins with the Mòshkmo festival, including The Unnatural and Accidental Women by Marie Clements, Where the Blood Mixes by Artistic Director Kevin Loring, and Mînowin by Dancers of Damelahamid, supported by the National Creation Fund.