My top 11 discoveries / realisations of 2011

19 Dec

This was a pretty intense year and thought it would be good to make a list of inspirational mainly operatic highs of 2011

1 Twitter

It was the first full year that I’ve used the network as a great resource for news and also as direct communication on matters operatic and not. Met some great people through it and started some very interesting conversations.

2 Beverly Sills

This year I immersed myself in the recorded output of the diva from Brooklyn. A great artist with an intriguing personality to boot. Surely one of the finest coloratura sopranos of the 20th century and worth going back to her for renewal and inspiration.

3 Veronique Gens

The year (almost) started with her magisterial Niobe at Covent Garden and finished with her fantastic  recital at Wigmore Hall. A diva cut off the old cloth of greatness.

4 Allan Clayton

First noticed him this year in a small part in Britten’s Dream, then I saw him triumph in Castor and Pollux and L’Enfance du Christ. A loud voice for the future, hope ENO and RO will give him more substantial roles to sink his teeth into.

5 Iestyn Davis

Never one for countertenors, but his performance in Britten’s Dream was magnetic and his Niobe contribution very substantial. A young British voice to shake up the world of opera and early music.


Have always loved the London Symphony Orchestra but this year they have been stunning. Also one of the most adept to Twitter orchestras on the planet. A band all Londoners should be proud of and should patronise with frequency.

7 Anne Sophie von Otter

Like a well aged Claret, ASvO is a European treasure. Her captivating Wigmore Hall recital was intoxicating to the max. Greatness without the hollow diva attitude. Looking forward to her LSO collaboration early in  February 2012.

8 Alice Coote

Listened to her sing Les nuits d’été years ago at the Proms and was terribly impressed, her triumphantly sulky Prince Charmant in Cendrillon was breathtaking. Her upcoming Winterreise  at Wigmore Hall will be an early highlight of 2012 (there are still a few tickets left, grab them quickly!)

9 Joyce DiDonato

The Yankeediva is a charismatic performer that elevated Cendrillon to stratospheric heights, her Ariodante was to die for, despite the awful orchestra and still a fun Twitter person to have disagreements and banter with.

10 Mark-Anthony Turnage

He gave us Anna Nicole, which was plethoric in its gay abandon and a great showcase for the considerable gifts of Eva Maria Westbroek, the darkness of Twice Through the Heart with the excellent Sarah Connolly and his remarkable music for Undance.

11 Sylvie Guillem

Managed to see her new mixed bill evening at Sadler’s Wells in its two outings back in early July and late September. She was absolutely wonderful both times. A rare dance treat. She continues to be the measure of all dancers, a standard for excellence.

If you had an epiphany of an artistic nature in 2011, feel free to add your top whatever in the comment section and Merry Xmas 😉

6 Responses to “My top 11 discoveries / realisations of 2011”

  1. Definitely the Opera 20 December 2011 at 1:48 am #

    I love your mezzo-heavy End of Year list! And in the two most dreadful months of the year (Jan-Feb), you’ll attend two gorgeosities: Otter singing Weill and Alice Coote’s Winterreise. Gelosissima, io son.

    Sarah Connolly is a treasure. Did you catch this a couple of years ago? Now, I love many singers, and worship some, but I can’t think of very many who would bother going through this kind of trouble to realize their artistic vision. (I can’t imagine, for example, the divine von O, in her royal attitude, doing this.)

    There’s also this nifty Desert Island Discs edition with David McVicar, in which he talks warmly and more than once about her friend Sarah Connolly and her splendiferous voice… Just lovely. Which reminds me, my next DVD purchase MUST be their Glyndebourne Giulio Cesare, which set the new standard for Cesari.

    Sylvie, I can’t wait to see in action. I somehow managed to miss this when it was in TO recently: Did you see it in London? I read uniformly rave reviews, and the video clips look amazing.

    As for Turnage, yesterday the DVD of Anna Nicole arrived in the mail. So the conversation will continue.

    • George aka OperaCreep 20 December 2011 at 11:26 am #

      Yes, her Last Night was tremendous…remember watching it with huge excitement despite my chronic dislike for that particular “institution”. She is truly fabulous. Will get to see her in Gerontius later in the year and her english language Rosenkavalier will be a must see too.

      Yes saw Eonnagata twice, wrote this on my old blog (which explains the formatting) It was a glorious flawed idea, but very seductive all the same.

      Oh I’m looking forward to your review of Anna Nicole, it felt very different in the theatre that it does on screen. Eva Maria was beyond excellent.

      (thanks for all the links)

  2. Definitely the Opera 20 December 2011 at 1:50 am #

    Ooopsie daisy. My comment got Quarantined because I it contains three links.

  3. Mirto Picchi (@Mirto_P) 20 December 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    You may be sorry, but you did ask for it, and even encouraged me via Twitter, so:

    1) Twitter
    This year I’ve finally fully admitted my powerlessness over Twitter as a great source of news – and the home of some terrific people, both famous and “regular” folk. How else would I know that Deborah Voigt (@debvoigt) is partial to red Starburst fruit chews?

    2) Beverly Sills, Elena Souliotis
    Been re-exploring the recorded legacies of both these very different sopranos, the first of whom I saw live many, many times growing up but have come over the years to take for granted. Some amazing rediscoveries of old “friends” here.

    3) That devil Apple (with apologies to George)
    With no small skepticism, I purchased the lowest-end, most-discounted Mac I could find: a MacBook. Suffice it to say it’s entirely changed my use of and relationship with day-to-day computing, so much so that I was powerless to resist the equally transformative iPhone 4S.

    4) Gounod’s “Faust”
    Speaking of the devil, thanks to curiosity about the Met/ENO’s new production, I’ve rediscovered an opera that I’ve always loved but seems to have fallen on hard times. It may not be fashionable to say, but I adore this music.

    5) Met at the movies
    Speaking of the Met, this was the year I finally got into the whole Met HD thing. I figured out I prefer going to the “encore” showings, the exact spot where I most like to sit, how much food to bring, how much coffee *not* to drink before, all the practical things. I’m looking forward to the “Faust” encore on Jan. 11.

    6) Luchino Visconti’s “Senso”
    Finally saw, via restored Criterion DVD. Italian history, a Bruckner soundtrack, lush visuals, Farley Granger (sigh…), Alida Valli, even a scene from “Il Trovatore” with Anita Cerquetti and, I think, Gino Penno (what, I wasn’t good enough, Luchino? hah!): What more do you need for a list of “inspirational … highs”?

    7) A ballerina’s farewell
    On May 8, quite by chance I saw the (unannounced until the following week) farewell performance of Boston Ballet ballerina Larissa Ponomarenko. Since the 1990s, when she owned the company’s classical rep, she transformed herself (with a lot of help from choreographer Jorma Elo) into a sensational modern ballerina. She was the treasure of the company and will be sorely missed.

    8) Connecticut Concert Ballet’s “The Sleeping Beauty” – Act 3
    It’s a too-long, too-complicated story, but suffice it to say I have personal and professional connections going back decades with this enterprising small-town nonprofit ballet school, and I was absolutely blown away by its beautifully staged and danced “amateur” performance of this classical touchstone in the spring.

    9) Ursula Oppens plays Frederic Rzewski
    Finally this summer heard the divine Ms. Oppens play what’s probably my favorite “modern” piano work – and possibly my favorite of all time: Rzewski’s 1975 “The People United Will Never Be Defeated.” And the concert was free, proving the best things in life really are.

    10) James Levine – end of an era?
    I first saw him conduct June 5, 1971 – his Met debut in “Tosca” – when I was a kid, and last saw him just shy of 40 years later, on May 2, conduct the Met’s new production of “Die Walkure.” I’ve *literally* grown up listening to him make music, but I suspect the long and illuminating ride is over. (And this also makes me feel about 100 years old…)

    11) “United 93”
    I was skeptical of all the 10th-anniversary-of-9/11 media push, but it did move me to finally watch this striking ensemble-cast movie directed by Paul Greengrass that was surprisingly sober and that consequently has stayed with me for months. That’s a good thing, since I don’t know if I could ever muster the nerve to watch it again.

    You still awake? George??? Mr. Creep???? Uh-oh….

    • George aka OperaCreep 21 December 2011 at 7:35 am #

      Now that is a list and a half! Thanks for sharing and possibly doubling the word count of this blog post 😉 Suitably eclectic!

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