I saw 25 live opera performances this year, including the Santa Fe Opera, the San Francisco Opera and the Met simulcasts, and this is what impressed me.
1. The peak operatic experience this year for me was undoubtedly the San Francisco Opera's production of Porgy and Bess. I had not known until this moment how absolutely exciting and moving this work could be. Congratulations to everyone involved.
2. Second place for me has to be Jonas Kaufmann's wonderful Lohengrin in Munich. If he came to rescue me, I would not care who he "really" was.
3. The semi-staged Dido and Aeneas at the Mondavi Center with Philharmonia Baroque was simply wonderful.
4. Patricia Racette's Il Trittico at the San Francisco Opera was a tour de force. And the production in San Francisco is far better than the Met's, entirely removing the revulsion against excess corniness that every Suor Angelica except this one seems to have. Seeing the great Ewa Podleś was a bonus.
5. This is a personal list. It is rare that a work and its artists so completely mesh as in the Metropolitan Opera's simulcast of La Rondine with Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna. The Met version was virtually a replay of the San Francisco production last year, but it was equally great the second time.
6-10. The entire season at the Santa Fe Opera. 5 operas in 5 days is a little overwhelming, but every work was interesting, well sung and well presented. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
Opera repertoire is too small. This single year included 2 Elixirs (Santa Fe and Sacramento), 2 La Traviatas (San Francisco and Santa Fe) and 2 Hoffmanns (Berkeley and the Metropolitan.) A little digging would please me, but in these financial times I understand the need for conservative repertoire.
Maybe you could do La Bohème every year. Oops. I forgot the La Bohème movie with Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon, seen in the theater and again at home on TV at Christmas. Anna is such a great actress. She sets the standard for operatic acting.
Worst? Abduction in San Francisco, followed closely by Aida. Apologies to Dolora Zajick.
Benjamin Appl named ECHO Rising Star
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