You can read all my reviews on Bachtrack at this link.
Melodic contemporary operas, classic operas done in outlandish contemporary style, never before seen operas, and even opera/musical theatre mash-ups. I saw some pretty good productions with some singularly splendid moments. I watched some not so good productions with several redeeming moments.
Rarely did a see a wonderful opera replete with splendid moments. But it happened at least twice this past year.
Herewith are my best and worst moments of the 2012 season, occurring both on and offstage.
The Best of 2012
For me, the best single production was a tie between Nico Muhly’s Dark Sisters presented by the Opera Company of Philadelphia and Glimmerglass Festival’s Lost in the Stars.
I was enthralled by Dark Sisters, a contemporary opera about the plight of women trapped in plural marriage—one husband with multiple wives. You can read the full review here, but suffice it to say that it was a moving, beautifully sung, and technologically stunning production.
Likewise, the Glimmerglass Festival’s Lost in the Stars, an opera/musical mash-up written by Kurt Weill adapted from the novel Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton was a first-rate show. It was a co-production with Cape Town Opera where it first played with performers who themselves experienced apartheid. Interestingly, Weill wrote this show as a way to “deepen the American musical theater experience.” Lost in the Stars actually deepened and broadened my opera-going experience. The full review is available here.
The Worst of 2012
I don’t really want to denigrate any single production or performer–that’s not what Operatoonity is about. I prefer civility first.
However, I will say that having no #Operaplot Contest this year was a huge personal disappointment.
I can scarcely begin to describe how much I enjoyed participating and reading other entries. I’m sure it is a bear to organize and judge, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that mounting no annual contest was one (of precious few ) Twitter campaigns sorely missed.
The other disappointment I grappled with was being emailed by a young performer after I didn’t include his name in a review. Yes, he was a lead performer, and he was understandably disappointed not to have been mentioned. However, since he was a young artist, I took the high road and excluded him rather than write an unfavorable review. I asked him if I could interview him on this blog about the challenges of preparing for a professional career singing opera, kind of as a makey-up, and he declined to participate, another major disappointment.
To all stage performers out there, I need to remind you that reviewer is more than likely a working person who does opera reviewing in his or her spare time. She is overworked, tired, traveled a distance to get there, and endeavors to write an honest review. Therefore, if you don’t intend to bring everything you have to your performance, your overworked, overstimulated, and simultaneously exhausted reviewer (who has seen more than 35 full-length operas and recitals in venues from D.C. to the Met in the last 28 months) is likely to notice.
That’s it for Operatoonity’s birds-eye view of the best and worst of 2012.
Here’s to happy opera viewing and greener musical pastures in 2013.