I am counting this year's 2011-12 season to have ended just before my trip this year to Santa Fe. So what kind of year was it?
Operas that were new for me are The Fairy Queen (DVD), Il Postino (TV), Lucrezia Borgia (Live), Serse (Live), Griselda (Live), Four Saints in Three Acts (Live), The Great Gatsby (Live), Heart of a Soldier (Live), The Last Savage (Live), Benvenuto Cellini (DVD), and Rodelinda (HD). I love it when there
are so many new operas. Only Heart of a Soldier was new for everyone. I'm not counting the extremely charming The Enchanted Island (HD).
Are any of these a truly great opera? Unquestionably I Capuleti e i Montecchi is a great opera for the spectacular bel canto singing. I have a CD of it with Beverly Sills which in no way prepared me for how truly wonderful it actually is.
I am shocked to see that my favorite of the entire season was Sacramento Opera's production of Pagliacci. Thanks to Eduardo Villa and the raw and visceral production, this was just what you wish for with this opera--passion and violence. It was simply amazing.
My second favorite, especially from the live performance category, has to be Menotti's The Last Savage from the Santa Fe Opera. It was simply the most fun you could expect to have at the opera.
I watched six operas on DVD but two of them, Werther and Anna Bolena, were DVD versions of the same or similar casts and productions as things seen live/HD earlier. I preferred Werther live and Anna Bolena on DVD, but all four were fabulous.
I watched Nina to counteract the static effect of Otello. I watched The Fairy Queen to fill a hole in my education but found it charming. I watched Adriana Lecouvreur for Jonas Kaufmann and Angela Gheorghiu, though I don't think the opera is very good.
My third Giulio Cesare with Cecilia Bartoli was the best, Baroque opera of great passion and life.
And for the first time I understand Vesselina Kasarova. With Netrebko she was simply a towering artist. In my search for the truly wonderful, I found it in a place I have visited often before.
Artist Of The Week Barbara Hannigan
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