Best of 2013

I saw some great stuff this year! Here are some of my favorites. This list was a little less exciting to put together than some of my previous year-end posts (2012, 2011), because I mostly was home in the US and for my tastes Europe is just more interesting.

But let’s look on the bright side: the Met certainly did better in 2013 than they did in 2012 or 2011. They played it safe with new productions, most of which were imported from elsewhere, but most of them proved more or less watchable and well-sung. And in Parsifal and Die Frau ohne Schatten (the former an import and the latter a revival of a Met original) they had two very special performances of challenging and unusual works. Let’s hope that this continues in the upcoming Prince Igor.

Best Performances
Parsifal (Met)
David et Jonathas (Les Arts Florissants/Brooklyn Academy of Music)
Don Carlo (Royal Opera)
Die Frau ohne Schatten (Met)

Best Individual Performances
Joyce DiDonato, La donna del lago (Royal Opera)
Antonio Pappano (conducting), Don Carlo (Royal Opera)
Peter Mattei, Parsifal (Met)

Rising Stars
Jamie Barton, Norma (second year running in this category! arguably should be promoted to the above category) (Met)
Lianna Hartounian, Don Carlo (Royal Opera)
Jacquelyn Wagner, Feuersnot (American Symphony Orchestra in concert)
Michael Spyres, La donna del lago (Royal Opera) (also has nearly outgrown this category)

Special Awards
Best Webcast: Così fan tutte, from the Teatro Real Madrid, in Michael Haneke’s superb production with a compelling cast. I also enjoyed Meistersinger from Salzburg, but was not very impressed by most of the cast or the conducting.

Most Extreme: Die Entführung aus dem Serail at the Komische Oper Berlin, which was more an act of catharsis than a performance one could enjoy in any conventional sense.

Saddest: The New York City Opera had been operating on borrowed time for some time now, but its demise is the end of a great institution.

Best Reinvention: Silent film might seem an odd inspiration for opera, but the Komische Oper Berlin’s production of Die Zauberflöte (seen later in Los Angeles and coming soon to Minnesota) was brilliant.

Unfulfilled Promise: Gotham Chamber Opera. Both Eliogabalo and Baden Baden 1927 seemed like terrific ideas on paper, but less so in live performance.

Biggest Contrast: When I saw the same production of Don Carlo in New York and London a few months apart. What had been dull and lifeless in New York (most of all due to Lorin Maazel’s limp conducting) was terrifically energetic in London. Even Ferruccio Furlanetto, who was the best thing in the New York performance, was way better in London.

Most Popular Posts
1. Parsifal (Met) (this post also got a remarkable 19 comments) (as someone who has found the introduction of Parsifal to undergraduate students to be something of a challenge on the enthusiasm front, this is both encouraging and surprising)
2. Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Komische Oper Berlin) (16 comments)
3. Rigoletto (Met)
4. Eugene Onegin (Met)
5. Maria Stuarda (Met)

See you in 2014! I will be seeing Die Fledermaus eventually, but am going on a research trip before that and won’t make it until midway through January.

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  1. I'm surprised Didonato is on the list because even though I remember reading you enjoyed her performance, I though you preferred Barcellona (?) Anyway, because of your review of
    David et Jonathas I purchased the dvd and it is one of the most moving peformances I've ever seen.

  2. You're totally right, Peter, and I don't know, I guess I just wanted to hand out some Diva Points. (And also point out that while I'm not always crazy about Joyce DiD, I did like her a lot in this one.)