My Operatic High(and low)lights 2022
Semele – Opéra de Lille
For Handel, you cannot do better than the combination of Emmanuelle Haïm as conductor and Barrie Kosky as stage director (production from Komische Oper Berlin).
Anna Bolena – Netherlands Opera – Jetske Mijnssen
No trite historical pageant with colourful costumes and extravagant sets; instead, a bleak psychological exploration of the fate of a woman caught in a hinterland of rejection and betrayal.
Tannhäuser – Opéra de Lyon – Jo Schramm
A huge, and aesthetically pleasing, contribution to the success of the evening, including a textured backdrop the mirror-like surface of which vividly reflected not only the barren sandy environment but also the shadows of anguished human movements.
Lohengrin – Bayreuth Festival – Christian Thielemann
Beauty of sound, with deep sensitivity to the dramatic structures of Wagner’s amazing score, sadly not served well by the pedestrian production.
Anastasia Bartoli – Macbeth – Opéra de Marseille
Daughter of you know who, little short of sensational as Lady Macbeth. Uninhibited in full voice, contrasting with sinuous softer tones when attempting to induce her husband to decisive action
Irene Roberts – Tannhäuser – Opéra de Lyon
A forceful Venus with richly coloured vocalisation and, to suit the futuristic production, far removed from the traditional sultry seductress.
Jakub Józef Orliński – Theodora – ROH Covent Garden
Brilliant execution of Handel’s highly inflected arias, with steely timbre and an imposing stage presence.
Andreas Schager – Siegfried – Bayreuth Festival
A genuine Heldentenor, capable of maintaining volume and quality throughout the long evening; also dramatically convincing as a headstrong, impulsive young man.
Christof Pohl – Tannhäuser – Opéra de Lyon
Perhaps the best Wolfram I have ever heard. The burnished baritone had the necessary warmth for empathy but also, being in no sense a wimp, the strength and plangency for asserting his moral beliefs.
Brindley Sherratt – Parsifal – Leeds: Opera North
His voluminous bass rolled out untiringly and attractively during Gurnemanz’s long narrations; and the colour and tone of the utterances reflected a solid and sympathetic characterisation.
Ritorno d’Ulisse; Die Nase – Oper Basel
My favourite Monteverdi with the role of Ulysses deleted! In his place, six immigrants to Switzerland talking about their experiences; and their spoken contributions accompanied by an electronic score. Need I say more?
Two evenings later, in the same theatre, and Shostakovich’s brilliant satirical Nose reduced to a cabaret turn in which the many performers did little more than prance on and off stage jogging and dancing in time with the music.