Holiday Bohemians, Gypsy Fever, Torrid Mezzo: Brussels Weekend

Cecilia Bartoli
Cecilia Bartoli sings in a concert of virtuoso airs from Handel operas at Bozar. Photographer: Uli Weber/Palais des Beaux-Arts via Bloomberg

Mimi, Rodolfo and their band of boastful poets, proud losers and eternal ravers crowd onto the stage of La Monnaie/De Munt tonight for a year-end run.

Puccini’s “La Boheme,” a bittersweet romance full of airs evoking youthful insouciance and crushed hopes, is staged by Andreas Homoki, director of Berlin’s Komische Oper, with Carlo Rizzi in the pit. Ermonela Jaho plays delicate Mimi and Giuseppe Filianoti is ardent Rodolfo.

“La Boheme,” sponsored by Swift, is at 8 p.m., La Monnaie/De Munt, Place de la Monnaie/Muntplein, through Dec. 31. Information: or 32-(0)70-23-3939.

Roue d’Or, a Belle Epoque brasserie off the holiday- festooned Grand’ Place, is perfect for a late supper to discuss the performance. It has Belgian winter dishes like mussels in a white wine and cream sauce. Roue d’Or, 26, Rue des Chapeliers/Hoedenmakersstraat, tel. +322-514-2554.


The Villa Empain, an Art Deco mansion by architect Michel Polak, has been restored by the Boghossian Foundation, run by Lebanese-Armenian jewelers. Its new show, “Colors of the Orient: Arts and Lifestyles in the Ottoman Empire” (through Feb. 27) has some 300 items, ranging from exquisite 16th-century porcelain to ornate swords, jewelry and textiles.

Villa Empain, 67, Avenue Franklin Rooseveltlaan. Information: or +322-627-5230.

The Villa Empain is a 10-minute walk from Wood, a restaurant set in a clearing of the nearby forest. The trademark Wood Burger is a towering, multilayered concoction. You can choose from an array of exotic cocktails in the glass-enclosed bar. Wood, 3-4, Avenue de Florelaan. Information: or +322-640-1968.

Saturday Night

Eleanor Bauer is proud to be big. The latest solo choreography by the dancer/singer/actor, who also performs with Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s superb Rosas troupe, is titled “Big Girls Do Big Things” and evokes polar bears, Patsy Cline and black swans.

Kaaistudios, 81 Rue Notre-Dame du Sommeil/Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Vaakstraat, 8:30 p.m. Information: or +322-201-5959.


Gilbert & George decry racism, homophobia and nationalism, among other headline topics, in “Jack Freak Pictures.” The exhibition of 85 images from the dandy duo’s latest series of computer-tweaked pictures is a loud screed of wry social comment. Jack refers to the Union Jack, a twisted motif in most of the works.

“Jack Freak Pictures” is at Bozar, 23, Rue Ravensteinstraat, through Jan. 23, 2011. Information: or +322-507-82-00.

Laurent Gerbaud, a star of the new generation of Belgian chocolate makers, has opened a shop across the street. Try the kumquat special or warm up with a chic cup of hot chocolate.

Laurent Gerbaud, 2 Rue Ravensteinstraat. Information: or +322-511-1602.

Sunday Night

Shake off economic worries to the scorching Gypsy sounds of Taraf de Haidouks. The Romanian village group whips up feverish dance music with fiddles, accordions and bells. They’ll be joined by Kocani Orkestar, a Macedonian brass band, at a downtown music hall, which has its own cafe/restaurant around the corner. Tomatoes stuffed with shrimp and served with fries are a local favorite.

Ancienne Belgique, 110 Boulevard Anspachlaan, 8 p.m. Information: or +322-548-2424. AB Cafe/Resto, 23 Rue des Pierres/Steenstraat. Information: or +322-548-2455.

Monday Night

Cecilia Bartoli will demonstrate her torrid technique in a concert of virtuoso airs from Handel operas at Bozar. Countertenor Franco Fagioli also will perform. They’ll be backed by Baroque band La Scintilla. The concert has been sold out for months but there are now tickets available for seats on stage. The culture center’s Victor Horta-designed brasserie reopens this weekend under Michelin-starred chef David Martin.

Bozar, 23, Rue Ravensteinstraat, 8 p.m. Information: or +322-507-82-00. Bozar’s music program is sponsored by Bayerische Motoren Werke AG.

(Jim Ruane is Editor at Large for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

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