Montreal is a city in Quebec, Canada.
Montreal, or Montréal in French, was the largest city in Canada up until the 70's and is now the second-largest city in Canada and the largest city in the province of Quebec. Originally called Ville-Marie ('City of Mary'), some historians think the city takes its present name from the Mont Réal (as it was pronounced in Middle French, or Mont Royal / Mount Royal in present French), the three-head hill at the heart of the city, whose name was also initially given to the island on which the city is located.
The official language of Montreal is French as defined by the city's charter. It is among the five largest French-speaking cities in the world. As of the 2006 Canadian Census, 1,620,693 people resided in the city of Montreal proper. The population of the Montreal Census Metropolitan Area (also known as Greater Montreal Area) was 3,635,571 at the same 2006 census. In the census metropolitan area, French is the language most spoken at home by 70.5% of the population (as of 2006 census). In 2007, Montreal was ranked as the 10th cleanest city in the world.
A cultural heart of classical art and the venue for many summer festivals, the Place des Arts is a complex of different concert and theatre halls surrounding a large open-spaced square in the downtown. The Place des Arts harbours the headquarters of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, which performs in its halls regularly. The OSM is one of the world's foremost orchestras, most remembered for the quality of its performance of the repertoire of Maurice Ravel under conductor Charles Dutoit. Since 2006, the OSM has a new conductor, the American Kent Nagano. L'orchestre métropolitain and the chamber orchestra I Musici de Montréal are two other well-regarded Montreal orchestras. Also performing home at Place des Arts is the Opéra de Montréal and the city’s chief ballet company Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. In contemporary dance, Montreal has been active, particularly since the 1980s. Internationally recognized avant-garde dance troupes such as La La La Human Steps, O Vertigo, and the Fondation Jean-Pierre Perreault have toured the world and worked with international popular artists on videos and concerts. The intelligent integration of multi-discipline arts in choreography of these troupes has paved the way for the success of the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil.
Montreal is the cultural centre of Quebec, and of French-speaking North America as a whole. The city is Canada's centre for French language television productions, radio, theatre, film, multimedia and print publishing. The Quartier Latin is a neighbourhood crowded with cafés animated by this literary and musical activity. The local English-speaking artistic community nevertheless contributes dynamically to the culture of Montreal, and intense collaborations exist between all Montreal communities. The result is a dynamic musical scene, ignited by the presence of numerous musical festivals, that melds different musical styles and traditions. English theatre struggled but survived with the Centaur Theatre. Ethnic theatre, by the 1970s, began to be a force with the Black Theatre Workshop, the Yiddish Theatre established at the Saidye Bronfman Centre and the Teesri Duniya Theatre. In the late 1990s, Montreal started to become a hotspot for low-budget independent English theatre with companies such as Optative Theatrical Laboratories, MainLine Theatre, Gravy Bath Theatre, Sa Booge, Persephone, Pumpkin Productions, and Tableau D'Hôte Theatre adding to the scene.
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