Saturday, December 26, 2020

2020 Opera Year in Review KK Awards

It seems rather depressing to be suggesting awards for 2020.  Luckily I don't require that the performances reviewed be performed this year.  I only require that I saw them this year and did not see the exact same performance in a previous year.  This eliminates a lot of things, including the nightly Met streams.  

  • March 30 --  Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg  Met stream
  • March 31 --  Il Barbiere di Siviglia Met stream  [I liked it better this time]
  • April 3  --  Don Carlo  Met stream
  • April 8 --  La Fanciulla del West  Met stream
  • April 28 -- Anna Bolena Met stream
  • April 30 --  Roberto Devereux  Met stream
  • May 2  --  Aida  Met stream
  • May 7  --  Le Nozze di Figaro  Met stream [all time favorite]
  • May 12 --  Werther  Met stream
  • May 13  --  Ariadne auf Naxos  Met stream 
  • May 20  --  Lohengrin Met stream
  • May 27 --  Manon Lescaut  Met stream
  • June 19  --  La Forza del Destino Met stream
  • July 5  --  Die Walküre Met stream
  • August 24 -- Hansel and Gretel Met stream 
  • September 10 -- La Damnation de Faust  Met stream 

Though these are some of the greatest performances ever from the Metropolitan Opera, I will not consider them in the KK Awards.  Interestingly, the San Francisco Opera produced an occasional weekly stream.

  • May 31 --  Lucrezia Borgia SFO
  • June 14  --  Trittico from SFO
  • June 23 --  Salome SFO  [far better with closeups.]
  • July 29 -- The Makropulos Case SFO
  • October 11  -- Tosca  SFO (new to me)
  • October 20 -- Attila  SFO
  • October 31 -- Lucia di Lammermoor  SFO
  • November 22 -- Rigoletto SFO
  • November 30 -- The Elixir of Love  SFO (new to me)

Two of these streams were completely new to me and should be included in the competition.  My series does not always include everything.  The logic here is that they could have been included in the KK Awards for previous seasons.  There are more performances from the Wiener Staatsoper than generally come my way due to free streaming.  Usually they charge.

Every year I list the operas that were completely new to me.  I find it interesting that these things can still happen.  In chronological order of viewing this year they are:

  • BEST NEW OPERA AWARD   Ryan Suleiman's Bones of Girls from Sacramento, Korngold's Das Wunder der Heliane from Berlin, Britten's Gloriana.  I liked the Judith idea, but the film that went before Bluebeard featured Nina Stemme and would not be transferable to another performance.  I enjoyed Hamilton but find that I must award to Britten's Gloriana, a truly excellent opera that should be performed more often.


  • BEST BAROQUE OPERA AWARD   The pickings here are rather slim.  Agrippina in HD with Joyce DiDonato, Giulio Cesare from Glyndebourne with Sarah Connolly which used the same production as the Met.  Flip a coin.  Neither one can be topped.  Because both the performance and the production were new to me, I award to Agrippina.  Joyce was exceptional.

  • BEST OF BEETHOVEN, MOZART AND WEBER AWARD  Fidelio from Theater an der Wien in Vienna, Fidelio from ROH with Lise Davidsen, Cosi fan Tutte from Salzburg, Weber's Euryanthe from Theater an der Wien in Vienna, Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Lisette Oropesa.  This is tough.  This is a Beethoven year, and I was so looking forward to seeing Fidelio from everywhere.   I am pleased that I found 2 excellent examples.  I am torn between Lise Davidsen and Lisette Oropesa, of course.  I have actually never liked Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail before seeing this performance from Vienna.  The production is very strange, but Lisette is magnificent.  Leonora in Fidelio is a perfect role for the 6'2" Lise Davidsen.  It fits her voice and herself.  I award to this Fidelio.  It would have been Lisette's Mozart except for the production. 

  • BEST BEL CANTO OPERA AWARD  Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi from the Zurich opera with Joyce DiDonato, Donizetti's The Elixir of Love from SFO with Ramon Vargas.  The rest of the bel canto repertoire was reruns.  This is tough.  One is serious, the other comedy.  I think I must choose Joyce once again in the serious opera.

  • BEST WAGNER OPERA AWARD No entries.  All my Wagner was reruns from the Met.

  • BEST VERISMO OPERA AWARD   Curiously, everything in this category this year is either Tosca or La Boheme.   Tosca list:
This is a wonderful selection of Puccini performances.  This is the broadest selection of a small repertoire.  Bryn is the best Scarpia.  I'm torn between Lianna and Sondra for Tosca herself.  However, the depth of my emotional reaction cannot exceed the Munich La Boheme.  They felt like friends.  There was real joy in being together even though there was no audience.  I award to this performance.

  • BEST BROADWAY REVIVAL AWARD   Cats the movieHamilton, Disney movie of an on stage performance.  The Cats movie was ok, but Hamilton was the real deal.  I was very pleased to have finally seen it.
  • BEST OVERALL AWARD  The Munich La Boheme.  How can it be anything else?

If I think of anything else to award to, I'll add it.  We can only hope for a return to live opera in the new year.


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