Best of 2013

So what was I most impressed with on the opera and related scene in in 2013?

Big house opera

frau1The COC had a pretty good twelve months.  I enjoyed everything I saw except, maybe, Lucia di Lammermoor.  Making a choice between Christopher Alden’s probing La Clemenza di Tito, the searing opening night of Peter Sellars’ Tristan und Isolde; the night when I really “got” why people fly across oceans to see this piece, Robert Carsen’s spare and intensely moving Dialogues des Carmélites or Tony Dean Griffey’s intense and lyrical portrayal of the title character in Peter Grimes is beyond me.  So, I shall be intensely disloyal to my home company and name as my pick in this category the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Die Frau ohne Schatten.  Wernicke’s production is pure magic and Anna Schwanewilms was a revelation.

Smaller house opera

figaroIt was a very good year for the smaller companies in town with strong showings from Opera Five, Loose TEA theatre, Toronto Masque Theatre, Tapestry and others.  Pride of place though must go to Against the Grain’s Figaro’s Wedding.  It had it all really; great music, a great concept, real wit and, above all, it was tremendous fun.

Recitals etc

selig_franz_josefAgain competition is fierce.  I saw very fine work from Lawrence Wiliford, Simone Osborne, Robert Pomakov and various members of the COC’s Ensemble Studio.  There was a very good AtG show of works by Kurtág and Janáček with Jacquie Woodley, Colin Ainsworth and Lauren Segal.  That said, pick of the year for me was Franz-Josef Selig’s lieder recital in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.  What a voice!  And what sensitivity and artistry in harnessing it to text and music.

Video recordings

I saw a lot of very good video recordings this year.  A special shout out goes to the rerelease of the various BBC “original cast” Britten recordings in the composer’s centenary year.  They are all worth seeing but the Owen Wingrave is particularly fine as is another older recording of  Albert Herring from Glyndebourne.

3.boatsOf newer recordings  I find myself struggling to choose between a fine recording of a new work; Jake Heggie’s Moby Dick from San Francisco Opera, a fine Glyndebourne recording of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, a brilliantly executed Die Zauberflõte from Simon Rattle and Robert Carsen at the Baden-Baden festival (which is also a model of how to get an opera from the stage to the screen) and another Carsen production; his deliciously irreverent Rinaldo from Glyndebourne.  Because I think new opera is to be encouraged the final accolade goes to Moby Dick; a fine work successfully steering the line between accessibility and being patronising well recorded in an inventive production.

Here’s hoping 2014 has as much going for it.

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3 thoughts on “Best of 2013

  1. Did you see Adrianne Pieczonka’s Empress broadcast December1st live from the Bavarian State Opera? She clearly is the best Strauss singer around today and this performance was a revelation. Miss S from the Met was great but I have to tip my hat to Adrianne.

    • I saw parts of the Munich webcast but I wasn’t getting a great feed here. AP did sound pretty good. I’ve seen quite a bit of her live and she always impresses. She did a very good Ariadne here a couple of seasons ago as well as a superb Mme Lidoine in Carmelites. She’s back as Amelia in Ballo in February. I think that will be the first time I’ve seen her sing Verdi live.
      I did really like Schwanewilms too though. It’s a most unusual voice and seemed a very good fit for the Empress.

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