We've reached that time when the critics start picking their best and worst shows of 2011. For those which I've awarded prizes to, I have (I hope) also created links to my original reviews...
Best Opera: This is a tie between Glyndebourne's new Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg and the Mariinsky's Die Frau ohne Schatten which came to Edinburgh in August. Gerald Finley and Vladimir Jurowski were the stars of the former, the latter was a genuine company triumph.
Worst Opera: The Coliseum had a generally diabolical year in the first half of 2011, but the worst of the lot was unquestionably Christopher Alden's silent play with music by Benjamin Britten and words by William Shakespeare (in other words the god-awful A Midsummer Night's Dream). Another blogger recently described it as “anathema to loyalists to an Aldeburgh that never was” (boulezian). Never having known Aldeburgh in Britten's time I can only say that it committed the worst crime in my operatic book by being a production totally contrary to the spirit and meaning of the text (and most of the time the music). Running it a close second was the company's almost as awful Lucrezia Borgia the Film.
Best Play: 2011 will go down as the year I discovered Arnold Wesker. I was also spellbound by O'Neill's Anna Christie at the Donmar. However, in the end I'm going to give the palm to D.C. Moore's one-act The Swan performed in The Paintframe at the National. A beautifully simple, character driven, superbly acted piece. Life-affirmingly human.
Worst Plays: Nothing this year was in danger of contesting the legendary EIF Three Sisters for the award for worst play a Pollard has ever endured, but there was quite a lot that was dull of which the two I would happily go back in time and retrieve the price of my ticket for and the hours wasted would be the over-hyped Kevin Spacey Richard III (no comparison to the recent RSC History Cycle performance) and the tedious adaptation of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle in Edinburgh.
Best Concert: Simply no contest here. Louis Lortie's performance of Liszt's complete Annees de Pelerinage at the Snape Maltings. Extraordinary and unforgettable.
Best Musical: No award. The Sheffield production of Company came closest. London Road was also notable, but not quite sufficiently.
Worst Musical: The Southwark Playhouse revival of Company.
What am I looking forward to in 2012: Berlioz's Les Troyens at the Royal Opera; Jonathan Pryce as King Lear at the Almeida.
My own concert of the year was without question the Kronos Quartet's residence in Glasgow which, in addition to the stunning music on show, was inspirational. I realise that's technically more than one concert, so the highlight of the highlight was Tanya Tagaq's performance with them of Derek Charke's Tundra Songs.
Some of the Sibelius was pretty good too, especially from Oramo and Elder. And speaking of Liszt, Jurowski and the OAE's Faust Symphony at the Edinburgh festival was right up there.
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