Sunday, December 29, 2013

Opera Year 2013

Phew, what a back-breakingly busy year it's been!
I've seen 45 different operas, with Wagner topping the bill, not surprisingly.

The other birthday boy, Verdi, came next along with Händel, followed by Mozart, Donizetti and Gluck. 
Frustratingly, in Britten's centenary year, I only managed to see just one of his operas, Peter Grimes.

Among the Wagner highlights, the best came very early on (in January) with a concert performance in Essen of Parsifal conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock and his Balthasar Neumann forces. 
In fact, period-performance Wagner featured fairly highly, with a visceral performance of Der fliegende Holländer by Les Musiciens du Louvre Grenoble under Marc Minkowski in Vienna. 
But a local performance of Parsifal, also on period instruments, in Bad Homburg was also deeply impressive.

The best staged Wagner opera was undoubtedly Stefan Herheim's Meistersinger in Salzburg, putting Bayreuth to shame in this year of all years. I also managed to catch Herheim's witty production of Xerxes.

Another opera highlight must be George Benjamin's Written on Skin, which I saw in two different productions, the original one by Katie Mitchell in Vienna and Paris and a second less successful one in Bonn.

My personal favourite among the staged performances must be Norma in Moshe Leiser's and Patrice Caurier's new staging for the Salzburg Festival, starring Cecilia Bartoli.
And a close runner-up -- at least in vocal terms -- was Martin Kušej's La forza del destino in Munich starring Jonas Kaufmann and Anja Harteros.

In addition to all the operas, I also attended a great many concerts and song recitals and two by Christian Gerhaher and his accompanist Gerold Huber really stood out, with song cycles by Schumann and Holliger in Heidelberg and Schumann in Frankfurt.

But Britten fared better in concert, too. And burned into my memory will be two performances of the War Requiem, with Mariss Jansons conducting the BR-Symphonieorchester in Munich, with soloists Christian Gerhaher, Mark Padmore and Emily Magee.

On the chamber music front, the Tetzlaff and Arcanto quartets teamed up for a quite breath-taking concert of the Mendelssohn and Enescu Octets in Frankfurt.
Recitals by Igor Levit (in Beethoven, Shostakovich and Liszt) and András Schiff (Bach) left a deep impression.

Another highlight was John Eliot Gardiner's Bach marathon in Paris, culminating in a performance of the h-moll Messe.

Cecilia Bartoli dazzled again when she brought her Steffani programme to Frankfurt.

While this year's Bayreuth Festival itself was a bit of a damp squib, one personal highlight was sitting in the orchestra pit for Act 1 of Götterdämmerung. I also met and interviewed Gottfried Wagner.

The Rhine Main area's contemporary music biennale, Cresc, this year focussing on the works of Bernd Alois Zimmermann, was fascinating and brilliant.
And topping my list of orchestral performances must be the phenomenal period-instrument band, Les Siecles, under their founder and chief conductor, François-Xavier Roth, who played Stravinsky's Le sacre du printemps like I've never heard it before.


BARTOK                 Bluebeard's Castle
BEETHOVEN         Fidelio (concert)
BELLINI                  Norma  
BENJAMIN             Written on Skin 
BERG                       Wozzeck 
BIRTWISTLE          Gawain 
BRITTEN                 Peter Grimes 

CAVALIERI            Rappresentazione di Anima
                                  e di Corpo

DIETSCH                Le vaisseau fantôme  (concert)

DONIZETTI            La fille du Regiment 
                                 Lucia di Lammermoor 

DVORAK                Rusalka  

ENESCU                  Oedipe 

GLUCK                   Alceste

GOEBBELS            Landschaft mit entfernten Verwandten
GURLITT               Wozzeck  

HÄNDEL               Agrippina 

LACHENMANN   Das Mädchen mit den

MOZART                Idomeneo 
                                 Le nozze di Figaro 
                                 Die Zauberflöte 

PUCCINI                 La fanciulla del West
PURCELL               Dido and Aneas 
PROKOFIEV          Der Spieler  

STRAUSS               Ariadne auf Naxos 

VERDI                    Un ballo in maschera 
                                 Don Carlo
                                 La forza del destino  
                                 Les vêpres siciliennes 
WAGNER               Rienzi (concert)
                                 Der fliegende Holländer (staged and concert)
                                  Das Rheingold 
                                  Die Walküre 
                                  Tristan und Isolde
                                  Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
                                  Parsifal (staged and concert)



No comments:

Post a Comment