I haven’t had much time to devote to blogging recently, but promise I will come up with a best of 2012 piece soon. In the meantime, here are the ten most popular posts that I wrote in 2012, as measured by Google Analytics. Nine out of the ten most popular events were viewable on video internationally, either as part of the Met’s HD broadcast series or via the Internet (the exception was Jonas Kaufmann’s I’m-not-dead Winterreise, which attracted great interest for another reason).
This reminds us how greatly the experience of opera has changed in only a few years, shifting a form seen primarily in live performance or as audio only to one very often seen on video. On the whole I think this is a great thing, bringing new audiences to opera while moving it away from the voice fetishism that primarily aural experience encourages and into the realm of the Gesamtkunstwerk. But there are concerns as well. Video always loses the aura of live performance, and no closeups can substitute. And it can also have a stifling effect on, well, any opera company that can’t grab a piece of the video pie.This list is dominated by the Met, though Salzburg also appears. (The Wiener Staatsoper’s Don Carlo, which was not taped, was No. 13.)
- La bohème, Salzburg Festival: Anna Netrebko was so awesome as Mimì that she got both Piotr Beczala and Jonas Kaufmann as Rodolfo. Simultaneously.
- Götterdämmerung, Metropolitan Opera. “[It] just sort of fizzled out.”
- La traviata, Metropolitan Opera. “A Violetta whose sole affect is fragility.”
- The Enchanted Island, Metropolitan Opera. That’s not a Baroque oboe, it’s the sound of your soul getting sucked out of your chest by this revue.*
- Die Walküre, Metropolitan Opera. “No one has their own story to tell, nor the imperative to speak it.”
- Jonas Kaufmann, Winterreise, Bayerische Staatsoper. Simple, honest, effective.
- Un ballo in maschera, Metropolitan Opera. “The best new production this house has seen in some time.”
- Otello, Metropolitan Opera. “A simulacrum of drama that’s less convincing than Iago’s case for Desdemona as the Sluttiest Slut of Cyprus.”
- L’elisir d’amore, Metropolitan Opera. Sorry, you were saying? I dozed off there for a second.
- Ariadne auf Naxos, Salzburg Festival. A dubious vision ran amok, bulldozing irony in the process.
You may notice that many of these assessments are negative. Only one of the performances on this list made my favorite performances of 2012 list, which may be why I run a blog and not a giant opera company, alas.
*The performance was in 2011, but I wrote about it in 2012.