Tuesday, January 28, 2020

ABS Orphean Enchantments


This is sort of a bad news entry.  I have been driving to Davis to see the American Bach Soloists since I moved to Sacramento.  My first entry, I believe, was in 2013.  I was happy about the fact that they played mostly Bach and in excellent style.  I attended performances of the St John Passion, the St. Matthew Passion, the Magnificat, the B Minor mass, Brandenberg Concertos, Orchestral Suites, etc.  That's a lot of Bach.  Occasionally other things appeared.

Well, Monday they performed only one piece by Bach:  Concerto in A Minor for Harpsichord, flute, violin, Strings and Basso Continuo.  Well, that sounds like a concerto grosso to me.  That's a small group of soloists who play both with and without the larger group of strings.  It was just ok.

In addition they played some pieces with Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, a countertenor.  I have recently warmed up to countertenors, but would always prefer to hear a female mezzo.  Oh well.  I wish I liked him better.  He sang:

Vivaldi's Stabat Mater
Buxtehude's Jubilate Domino omnis terra
Johann Christoph Bach's Lamento
Hoffmann's Schlage doch, gewuenswchte Stunde [previously attributted to Bach.]

This is the first time I have not enjoyed one of their concerts.  Part of this is old age which makes it exhausting to drive to Davis.  The conductor Jeffrey Thomas said that they would be doing less Bach this season.  They would teach us to enjoy other things.  I have only gotten really enthusiastic about their Bach.  That's why I'm here.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Bones of Girls


Composer:  Ryan Suleiman
Librettist:  Cristina Fries
Pianist, music director:  Jennifer Reason
Director:  Omari Tau

Idiot Girl:  Carrie Hennessey  (puppeteers:  Gwenyth Alberto, Mara Patton)
Moon/Father:  Kevin Doherty
Dogs:  Omari Tau (puppeteers:  Ruhan Whittington, Jesse Raga)

Bones of Girls by Ryan Suleiman was given its world premier this weekend by Rogue Music Project in Sacramento.  I enjoyed this quite a lot, but it's going to be hard to explain.

They are in tune with their time.  The music, though scored only for piano, was densely modern.  Interesting remark in the lectures after the opera, "The words take a lot longer set to music."  This was a complaint from the composer.  If they want a lot more words with the same music, they shift to talking.  But no talking here.  That's a current fad.  There did not appear to be any vocal ensembles.  The three singers, Carrie Hennessey, Kevin Doherty and Omari Tau, a kind of priest-like character, sang well this somewhat difficult music.  They created their characters while being upstaged by children.

The story is something that is written about more recently than it was earlier in my lifetime.  A woman remembers sexual advances from her father when she was a child.  In this story he wishes to marry her.  She escapes.  We see this part of her life in a flashback. 

The staging was complex.  The chosen performance space isn't really suitable for a daytime performance, which is what I chose to attend.  The moon shines down, only here just in your imagination.

The four children who are the puppeteers play together before the opera begins.   The girls handle the child Idiot Girl who is quite attractive.  The boys are a pack of dogs as hand puppets.  It was complex and surprisingly moving.  The lively children at the beginning lie inert on the floor at the end.

I found it to be a quality product.

Classical Music Grammy Nominees and Winners For 2020

75. Best Orchestral Performance
Award to the Conductor and to the Orchestra.
  • BRUCKNER: SYMPHONY NO. 9
    Manfred Honeck, conductor (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)
      #ad
  • COPLAND: BILLY THE KID; GROHG
    Leonard Slatkin, conductor (Detroit Symphony Orchestra)
     
  • WINNER!  NORMAN: SUSTAIN
    Gustavo Dudamel, conductor (Los Angeles Philharmonic)

     
  • TRANSATLANTIC
    Louis Langrée, conductor (Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra)
     
  • WEINBERG: SYMPHONIES NOS. 2 & 21
    Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, conductor (City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Kremerata Baltica)
76. Best Opera Recording
Award to the Conductor, Album Producer(s) and Principal Soloists.
  • BENJAMIN: LESSONS IN LOVE & VIOLENCE
    George Benjamin, conductor; Stéphane Degout, Barbara Hannigan, Peter Hoare & Gyula Orendt; Raphaël Mouterde & James Whitbourn, producers (Orchestra Of The Royal Opera House)
      #ad
  • BERG: WOZZECK
    Marc Albrecht, conductor; Christopher Maltman & Eva-Maria Westbroek; François Roussillon, producer (Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra; Chorus Of Dutch National Opera)
      #ad
  • CHARPENTIER: LES ARTS FLORISSANTS; LES PLAISIRS DE VERSAILLES
    Paul O'Dette & Stephen Stubbs, conductors; Jesse Blumberg, Teresa Wakim & Virginia Warnken; Renate Wolter-Seevers, producer (Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Ensemble; Boston Early Music Festival Vocal Ensemble)
      #ad
  • WINNER!  PICKER: FANTASTIC MR. FOX
    Gil Rose, conductor; John Brancy, Andrew Craig Brown, Gabriel Preisser, Krista River & Edwin Vega; Gil Rose, producer (Boston Modern Orchestra Project; Boston Children's Chorus)

      #ad
  • WAGNER: LOHENGRIN
    Christian Thielemann, conductor; Piotr Beczała, Anja Harteros, Tomasz Konieczny, Waltraud Meier & Georg Zeppenfeld; Eckhard Glauche, producer (Festspielorchester Bayreuth; Festspielchor Bayreuth) [The blue Lohengrin]   
       #ad

77. Best Choral Performance
Award to the Conductor, and to the Choral Director and/or Chorus Master where applicable and to the Choral Organization/Ensemble.
  • BOYLE: VOYAGES
    Donald Nally, conductor (The Crossing)
     
  • WINNER!  DURUFLÉ: COMPLETE CHORAL WORKS
    Robert Simpson, conductor (Ken Cowan; Houston Chamber Choir)

     
  • THE HOPE OF LOVING
    Craig Hella Johnson, conductor (Conspirare)
     
  • SANDER: THE DIVINE LITURGY OF ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
    Peter Jermihov, conductor (Evan Bravos, Vadim Gan, Kevin Keys, Glenn Miller & Daniel Shirley; PaTRAM Institute Singers)
     
  • SMITH, K.: THE ARC IN THE SKY
    Donald Nally, conductor (The Crossing)
78. Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance
For new recordings of works with chamber or small ensemble (twenty-four or fewer members, not including the conductor). One Award to the ensemble and one Award to the conductor, if applicable.
  • CERRONE: THE PIECES THAT FALL TO EARTH
    Christopher Rountree & Wild Up
     
  • FREEDOM & FAITH
    PUBLIQuartet
     
  • PERPETULUM
    Third Coast Percussion
     
  • RACHMANINOFF - HERMITAGE PIANO TRIO
    Hermitage Piano Trio
     
  • WINNER!  SHAW: ORANGE
    Attacca Quartet
79. Best Classical Instrumental Solo
Award to the Instrumental Soloist(s) and to the Conductor when applicable.
  • THE BERLIN RECITAL
    Yuja Wang
     
  • HIGDON: HARP CONCERTO
    Yolanda Kondonassis; Ward Stare, conductor (The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra)
     
  • WINNER!  MARSALIS: VIOLIN CONCERTO; FIDDLE DANCE SUITE
    Nicola Benedetti; Cristian Măcelaru, conductor (Philadelphia Orchestra)

     
  • THE ORCHESTRAL ORGAN
    Jan Kraybill
     
  • TORKE: SKY, CONCERTO FOR VIOLIN
    Tessa Lark; David Alan Miller, conductor (Albany Symphony)
80. Best Classical Solo Vocal Album
Award to: Vocalist(s), Collaborative Artist(s) (Ex: pianists, conductors, chamber groups) Producer(s), Recording Engineers/Mixers with 51% or more playing time of new material.
  • THE EDGE OF SILENCE - WORKS FOR VOICE BY GYÖRGY KURTÁG
    Susan Narucki (Donald Berman, Curtis Macomber, Kathryn Schulmeister & Nicholas Tolle)
      #ad
  • HIMMELSMUSIK
    Philippe Jaroussky & Céline Scheen; Christina Pluhar, conductor; L’Arpeggiata, ensemble (Jesús Rodil & Dingle Yandell)
     
  • SCHUMANN: LIEDERKREIS OP. 24, KERNER-LIEDER OP. 35
    Matthias Goerne; Leif Ove Andsnes, accompanist
      #ad
  • WINNER!  SONGPLAY
    Joyce DiDonato; Chuck Israels, Jimmy Madison, Charlie Porter & Craig Terry, accompanists (Steve Barnett & Lautaro Greco)

      #ad
  • A TE, O CARA
    Stephen Costello; Constantine Orbelian, conductor (Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra)
81. Best Classical Compendium
Award to the Artist(s) and to the Album Producer(s) and Engineer(s) of over 51% playing time of the album, if other than the artist.
  • AMERICAN ORIGINALS 1918
    John Morris Russell, conductor; Elaine Martone, producer
     
  • LESHNOFF: SYMPHONY NO. 4 'HEICHALOS'; GUITAR CONCERTO; STARBURST
    Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor; Tim Handley, producer
     
  • MELTZER: SONGS AND STRUCTURES
    Paul Appleby & Natalia Katyukova; Silas Brown & Harold Meltzer, producers
     
  • WINNER!  THE POETRY OF PLACES
    Nadia Shpachenko; Marina A. Ledin & Victor Ledin, producers

     
  • SAARIAHO: TRUE FIRE; TRANS; CIEL D'HIVER
    Hannu Lintu, conductor; Laura Heikinheimo, producer
82. Best Contemporary Classical Composition
A Composer's Award. (For a contemporary classical composition composed within the last 25 years, and released for the first time during the Eligibility Year.) Award to the librettist, if applicable.
  • BERMEL: MIGRATION SERIES FOR JAZZ ENSEMBLE & ORCHESTRA
    Derek Bermel, composer (Derek Bermel, Ted Nash, David Alan Miller, Juilliard Jazz Orchestra & Albany Symphony Orchestra)
     
  • WINNER!!  HIGDON: HARP CONCERTO
    Jennifer Higdon, composer (Yolanda Kondonassis, Ward Stare & The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra)

     
  • MARSALIS: VIOLIN CONCERTO IN D MAJOR
    Wynton Marsalis, composer (Nicola Benedetti, Cristian Măcelaru & Philadelphia Orchestra)
     
  • NORMAN: SUSTAIN
    Andrew Norman, composer (Gustavo Dudamel & Los Angeles Philharmonic)
     
  • SHAW: ORANGE
    Caroline Shaw, composer (Attacca Quartet)
     
  • WOLFE: FIRE IN MY MOUTH
    Julia Wolfe, composer (Jaap Van Zweden, Francisco J. Núñez, Donald Nally, The Crossing, Young People's Chorus Of NY City & New York Philharmonic)

74. Producer Of The Year, Classical
A Producer's Award. (Artist names appear in parentheses.)
  • WINNER!  BLANTON ALSPAUGH
• Artifacts - The Music Of Michael McGlynn (Charles Bruffy & Kansas City Chorale)
• Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique; Fantaisie Sur La Tempête De Shakespeare (Andrew Davis & Toronto Symphony Orchestra)
• Copland: Billy The Kid; Grohg (Leonard Slatkin & Detroit Symphony Orchestra)
• Duruflé: Complete Choral Works (Robert Simpson & Houston Chamber Choir)
• Glass: Symphony No. 5 (Julian Wachner, The Choir Of Trinity Wall Street, Trinity Youth Chorus, Downtown Voices & Novus NY)
• Sander: The Divine Liturgy Of St. John Chrysostom (Peter Jermihov & PaTRAM Institute Singers)
• Smith, K.: Canticle (Craig Hella Johnson & Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble)
• Visions Take Flight (Mei-Ann Chen & ROCO)

  • JAMES GINSBURG
• Project W - Works By Diverse Women Composers (Mei-Ann Chen & Chicago Sinfonietta)
• Silenced Voices (Black Oak Ensemble)
• 20th Century Harpsichord Concertos (Jory Vinikour, Scott Speck & Chicago Philharmonic)
• Twentieth Century Oboe Sonatas (Alex Klein & Phillip Bush)
• Winged Creatures & Other Works For Flute, Clarinet, And Orchestra (Anthony McGill, Demarre McGill, Allen Tinkham & Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra)

  • MARINA A. LEDIN, VICTOR LEDIN
• Bates: Children Of Adam; Vaughan Williams: Dona Nobis Pacem (Steven Smith, Erin R. Freeman, Richmond Symphony & Chorus)
• The Orchestral Organ (Jan Kraybill)
• The Poetry Of Places (Nadia Shpachenko)
• Rachmaninoff - Hermitage Piano Trio (Hermitage Piano Trio)

  • MORTEN LINDBERG
• Himmelborgen (Elisabeth Holte, Kåre Nordstoga & Uranienborg Vokalensemble)
• Kleiberg: Do You Believe In Heather? (Various Artists)
• Ljos (Fauna Vokalkvintett)
• LUX (Anita Brevik, Trondheimsolistene & Nidarosdomens Jentekor)
• Trachea (Tone Bianca Sparre Dahl & Schola Cantorum)
• Veneliti (Håkon Daniel Nystedt & Oslo Kammerkor)

• Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 (Manfred Honeck & Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Gauguin Portraits from London


The film about portraits by Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) in my local movie theater came in two parts.   The portraits in the exhibition were used to illustrate a biography which also included a few photographs.  The above picture, a self portrait, was compared to Christ on the Mount of Olives. 

Gauguin was born in Paris but lived for several years in Peru with his Peruvian mother.  Who knew?  He also married a Danish woman, had four children, and abandoned her.  He lived in Arles for a short time with Vincent van Gogh.  It may have been his fault that Vincent cut off his ear.  As a young person, Gauguin's paintings look pretty conventional.  He argued with Vincent but was very much influenced by him.

I tried to compare this historical context with my idea that you should just look at the paintings and let them form an idea in your mind.  Gauguin may provide a possibility because the pictures only vaguely represent reality.  It is what they look like, not what they represent that matters.  He is not painting reality, and it is important to realize that.  Photographs show that Tahiti was forever changed by Christian missionaries by the time Gauguin arrived there.  He had to die before he became famous.

The second half showed the exhibit at the National Gallery in London with commentary by artists and art critics. 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Favorites of the Past Decade 2010-19 Without Big Names

Here are some favorites from the past decade which did not make the previous list because no big name appeared in the performance.


I saw Rossini's Maometto II at the Santa Fe Opera in the new critical edition in 2012. It starred Luca Pisaroni and Leah Crocetto.  Leah sang the role originally written for Isabella Colbran.  I found this a magnificent opera and have been disappointed that I haven't seen it revived elsewhere.


That same year I saw Heggie's Moby-Dick at the San Francisco Opera.  I declared it to be a masterpiece, but haven't seen much of it lately.  Dead Man Walking seems to be everyone's favorite Heggie opera.  Stephen Costello and Jay Hunter Morris were the stars.




For a triple threat year I also saw a touring company present in its original production Einstein on the Beach by Philip Glass.  It was an historic event, even if I don't remember much about it.



Opera Parallèle brought me Golijov's Ainadamar in 2013.  This was already a favorite from recording.  There is time travel in the story which was easily solved by posting the current year in the titles.  The confusing story was well presented here.  It's about a play by Federico Garcia Lorca, done as a trouser role.  There was Flamenco dancing.  What more could you ask for?




Bay Area wonders continued with West Edge Opera's presentation of Berg's Lulu in 2015.  It starred Emma McNairy, so far my favorite Lulu ever.  She played her for sex, an entirely not irrelevant part of the story.  I see her name pop up in Europe now.



I visited Berlin in 2016 to see five Strauss Operas but ended up liking best Marschner's Der Vampyr at the Komische Oper.  No one I'd heard of before or since was in it, but it was enormous fun.




2017 was a notable year primarily for two different and very interesting productions of Mozart's  La Clemenza di Tito by two of the more notorious regisseurs in opera:  Claus Guth at Glyndebourne and Peter Sellars at Salzburg. Sellars focused on creating a racial context for the drama with racial casting while Guth moved the story from Rome to a river bank.  Sellars featured Golda Schultz and Russell Thomas while Guth had Alice Coote.  I dearly loved both of these performances and have come to regard this as Mozart's greatest opera.


Glyndebourne brought us in 2018 Barber's Vanessa. It was wonderfully mysterious and charming, and made me wonder why it never plays here.



2019 topped everything with the Metropolitan Opera's presentation of Glass's Akhnaten in an astounding production by Phelim McDermott.  We didn't know an opera could be about juggling.  Much of this success is due to the brilliant performance of Anthony Roth Costanzo.

I have added this list because it is simply not complete with only the great stars. Obscure companies can bring us wonderful opera.  This isn't every wonderful thing.  You should create your own list.


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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Summer Festivals 2020 Unfinished

Santa Fe Opera  3 July – 29 August 2019
  • Gioachino Rossini The Barber of Seville
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart The Magic Flute
  • Richard Wagner Tristan und Isolde 
  • Antonín Dvořák Rusalka
  • Huang Ruo  M. Butterfly (new opera)

Salzburg Whitsun  29 May - 1 June, 2020
  • Gaetano Donizetti Don Pasquale (and main festival, Cecilia Bartoli)
  • Hector Berlioz Orphée (the usual Berlioz arrangement of Gluck, here attributed to Berlioz.)


Salzburg Festival 18 July – 31 August 2020
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Don Giovanni
  • Richard Strauss Elektra
  • Giacomo Puccini Tosca (Netrebko) 
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Die Zauberflöte
  • Gaetano Donizetti Don Pasquale
  • Luigi Nono Intolleranza 
  • Giuseppe Verdi I vespri siciliani
  • George Frideric Handel Der Messias In German with Mozart orchestra.
  • Modest Mussorgsky Boris Godunov
  • Morton Feldman Neither
  • Igor Levit plays all Piano Sonatas by Beethoven. 
  • And many more things

 
Aix-en-Provence Festival 30 June -- 18 July 2020 
  • Giacomo Puccini Tosca  Angel Blue is Tosca
  • Wolfgang Rihm Jakob Lenz
  • Adam Maor The Sleeping Thousand World Premier
  • Kurt Weill The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny with Karita Mattila
  • Michel van der Aa Blank Out  French Premier

Glyndebourne Festival  21 May – 30 August 2020
  • Francis Poulenc Dialogues des Carmélites with Danielle de Niese
  • Gaetano Donizetti L’elisir d’amore
  • George Frideric Handel Alcina
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Lisette Oropesa
  • Ludwig van Beethoven Fidelio
  • Igor Stravinsky The Rake’s Progress, streamed

Munich Opera Festival  21 June – 31 July 2020
  • Richard Wagner Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
  • Hans Abrahamson The Snow Queen
  • Giuseppe Verdi Nabucco
  • Giuseppe Verdi Rigoletto
  • Joseph Haydn Orlando Paladino
  • Giacomo Puccini La Boheme
  • Peter Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin
  • Erich Korngold Die tote Stadt
  • Giuseppe Verdi Otello
  • Giuseppe Verdi Falstaff
  • Giacomo Puccini Tosca
  • Giuseppe Verdi I Masnadieri
  • Jean-Philippe Rameau Castor et Pollux
  • Béla Bartók Bluebeard's Castle
    Opera Theater of Saint Louis  3 June -- 28 June 2020
    • Georges Bizet Carmen
    • Johann Strauss II Die Fledermaus
    • Tobias Picker & Aryeh Lev Stollman Awakenings
    • Carlysle Floyd Susannah
    West Edge Opera Festival 25 July - ? 2020
    • Leoš Janáček Katya Kabanova
    • Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell Elizabeth Cree
    • Francesco Cavalli Eliogabolo


    Glimmerglass

    Saturday, January 11, 2020

    Wozzeck in HD


    Conductor...............Yannick Nézet-Séguin
    Production..............William Kentridge

    Wozzeck.................Peter Mattei
    Marie...................Elza van den Heever
    Captain.................Gerhard Siegel
    Drum Major..............Christopher Ventris
    Doctor..................Christian Van Horn

    This is my fifth time with Berg's Wozzeck--once in the 60's at San Francisco with Marilyn Horne, once in the 80's at San Francisco with Janis Martin, once in 2011 at Santa Fe with Nicola Beller Carbone, a German soprano, once streamed from Salzburg with Asmik Grigorian and now in HD from the Met with Elza van den Heever.  Marilyn Horne could have been singing Bellini.  Janis Martin could have been doing Wagner.  Since then it has become increasingly noticeable that there is a lot of Sprechstimme in this opera.  This means it often sounds like talking in rhythm against the large orchestra.

    I saw this production streamed from Salzburg.  It looked even more jumbled and distracting this time.  It overwhelms the action and makes everything confusing.  I liked it even less this time.

    Peter Mattei was just right as Wozzeck, mean and dark and nasty.  Elza may be too nice as Marie.  The puppet child never projects as a real child, never arouses any sympathy.  It must be under 3 years old, since that is how long Wozzeck and Marie have known each other.  When this opera works best for me it's when the child is seen wandering off after both his parents are dead.  A puppet doesn't arouse this reaction.

    Musically it was quite well done.
     

    Thursday, January 09, 2020

    Cats the Movie

    Jennifer Hudson ... Grizabella
    Judi Dench ... Old Deuteronomy
    Taylor Swift ... Bombalurina

    In spite the terrible reviews I went to the movie Cats.  It starts very slow, but ends nicely.  Judi Dench is her usual glorious self.  I got the plot for the first time.  The only thing that I absolutely hated was they have the excellent Jennifer Hudson to sing Memories, and they make her croon it except for one brief loud section.  Just remind yourself that it's Cats.

    The people who are complaining seem to be people who have never been to the opera.

    Friday, January 03, 2020

    Anna Netrebko / Puccini Gala at the Met


    On new year's eve the Metropolitan Opera presented Anna Netrebko in three scenes from Puccini operas.

    Conductor...............Yannick Nézet-Séguin

    La Bohème Act 1
    Mimí....................Anna Netrebko
    Rodolfo.................Matthew Polenzani
    Marcello................Quinn Kelsey
    Schaunard...............Davide Luciano
    Colline.................Christian Van Horn
    Benoit..................Arthur Woodley

    Tosca: Act 1
    Tosca...................Anna Netrebko
    Cavaradossi ............Yusif Eyvazov
    Scarpia.................Evgeny Nikitin
    Sacristian..............Patrick Carfizzi
    Angelotti...............Kyle Albertson [Debut]
    Spoletta................Tony Stevenson

    Turandot: Act II
    Turandot................Anna Netrebko
    Calaf...................Yusif Eyvazov
    Liu.....................Michelle Bradley
    Ping....................Alexey Lavrov
    Pang....................Tony Stevenson
    Pong....................Eduardo Valdes

    I listened to the audio and thought the whole evening was beautiful, worth going to New York for.  Her "In questa regia" was spectacular.  The internet is worrying away that Turandot is too heavy for her and that she will ruin her voice.  My own opinion--why does one blog if not to give ones opinion?--is that she keeps enough lightness in her voice to avoid stress.  I don't hear pushing.  I predict we will love this when we get the whole opera.

    Happy New Year.

    Wednesday, January 01, 2020

    Favorites of the Decade 2010-19

    We have turned over a new decade, so I have decided to follow the trend and do a list of favorites of my own.  I will group them by favorite artists.

    Jonas Kaufmann and Anja Harteros



    I am feeling a bit sad that the Bayerische Staatsoper doesn't seem to cast them opposite one another any more.  Together they have brought me some of my favorite Verdi performances.

    • My first experience of this pairing was in Wagner's Lohengrin on DVD (2010).  I saw this production live in Munich but with a different soprano.  This is the much maligned blue t-shirt production.  For me it worked and continues to be very watchable.  They are two great artists with magnificent charisma who are musically and theatrically on the same page.  The look may be odd, but it doesn't damage the story.  This is available on DVD.
    • That same year they appeared together in Verdi's Don Carlo from the ROH (2013).  Thomas Hampson was Rodrigo.  In this wonderful opera they reign supreme.  It is a traditional production.  This is available on DVD.
    • That same year brought me my favorite ever of Verdi's La Forza del Destino (2013) from Munich. The villain brother is played by Ludovic Tézier.   Forza is very hard to stage, and I felt this version was successful by keeping the villain evil.  This is available on DVD.
    • Giordano's Andrea Chénier (2017) from Munich.  The DVD of Kaufmann in this opera is from ROH, but I prefer this one.  It shows them at the guillotine.
    • And finally Verdi's Otello (2018) from Munich.  This is a lot of two Germans performing the essential Italian, but I loved all of it.  Unfortunately the DVD of Kaufmann's Otello is for a different performance from London, but I very much prefer this one for its tilt toward Desdemona and his relationship to her.  It goes very deep.

    Anna Netrebko



    This is the decade when Anna Netrebko moved from a lyric soprano to a Verdi spinto.  This change was not to everyone's taste, but I was surprised to find that I liked her Verdi almost as much as I had liked her Donizetti. The red dress Traviata I loved so much is from the previous decade.

    • I Capuleti e i Montecchi by Bellini (2012) from Munich with Vesselina Kasarova.  For the lovers of wailing, this is the best.  This is toward the end of Netrebko's bel canto period.
    • Verdi's Il Trovatore in HD from the Met (2015).  This is Dmitri Hvorostovsky's last performance in opera.  He died two years later.  Netrebko is becoming a Verdi soprano, and who better to share the stage with than Dmitri?
    • Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin in HD from the Met with Peter Mattei (2017).  There are multiple versions of this opera, but I think I like this one best.  As Netrebko matures, her Tatiana improves.
    • Verdi's Aida from Salzburg (2017).  I liked this for the exotic production where everything looks like Iran. Netrebko sang beautifully.
    • Cilèa's Adriana Lecouvreur in HD from the Met (2019) with Anita Rachvelishvili.  Piotr Beczala is a wonderful added bonus.  This performance brings us a whole new generation of wailing.  It is appropriate that Anna end the decade with a new female voice at her side.  They were together in Aida at the Met, but the tenor spoiled the performance.
       

    Elīna Garanča


    Elīna's performances are beautifully sung and magnificently acted

    • Bizet's Carmen (2010) in HD from the Met with Roberto Alagna begins the decade.  Will she ever top this astoundingly sexy performance?  This is on DVD.
    • Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier (2017) in HD from the Met.  This was for Renée Fleming's retirement from opera where they pulled out all the stops.  Günther Groissböck as Ochs was an added bonus.  Both acting and singing were magnificent.
     

    Cecilia Bartoli



    Cecilia began the decade with a Grammy for Sacrificium.  Shortly after that she became the manager of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival.  Of her triumphs I enjoyed these most.  Her contract in Salzburg continues to 2026 while she has added Opera de Monte Carlo to her future management duties.

    • Handel's Giulio Cesare at Salzburg (2012) in a regie production.  This production made it to DVD, and the DVD was nominated for a Grammy.  For some reason not known to me this opera is often regarded as a comedy with silly action.  In spite of that the musical elements are spectacularly beautiful.  Cecilia singing with a bag over her head may be going too far.
    • Bellini's Norma I experienced first as a CD and then in live performance at Salzburg (2013) in her second year as Intendant.  This was a critical edition performance which was subsequently performed in various places in Europe but has not become a DVD.  The regie production moved us to WWII.
    • Handel's Ariodante (2017) from Salzburg.  This is Cecilia having fun with gender issues.  She begins with a beard and wearing a suit of armor.  She takes off her armor, dances, changes into a dress, and eventually removes her beard.  She blows smoke rings, or at least mimes blowing smoke rings since we see no smoke.  The singing is lovely.  The beard idea has found its way onto her latest album.
    • Rossini's L'Italiana in Algeri (2018) from Salzburg.  Of the bunch, this is my favorite.  Cecilia rides a camel, takes a bath, rejects the baritone and talks the tenor into returning to Italy, all in great comic style.  Cecilia sings wonderfully, acts as only she can and looks gorgeous.

    Nina Stemme



    Nina Stemme is an almost incidental singer, but nevertheless there are a few performances by her that have completely charmed me.  [That sounds worse than I meant it.]

    • Wagner's Ring in San Francisco (2010).  Die Walküre is my favorite Wagner and this one was fun.
    • Puccini's La Fanciulla del West (2013) from Vienna with Jonas Kaufmann.  He didn't just sing with Anja that year.  I have watched this a few times and never fail to feel the romance between these two great artists.
    • Wagner's Tristan und Isolde (2016) from the Met with Stuart Skelton.  I realize I'm not supposed to, but I loved this.  Simon Rattle conducted and drew me into the music throughout. 


    This isn't all I liked, obviously, but it's the only list I've generated that's close to all standard repertoire and based entirely on singers who were well established at the start of the decade.  You won't go wrong with any of these great performances.  I could make a different list entirely of people and trends that were new in this decade.  Perhaps I will.

    Oh.  I award the decade to Jonas Kaufmann.  I liked him in more things than the performances with Anja Harteros.