Sunday, 31 December 2017

Highs and Lows of 2017

Time (almost past time) for my annual roundup...

Best Opera: A tie between the unforgettable, over-powering Bergen Philharmonic/Edward Gardner semi-staged Peter Grimes at the Edinburgh Festival and the Glyndebourne Traviata – breathing fresh life into a familiar classic.

Worst Opera: Kaspar Holten's dismal version of Die Meistersinger at the Royal Opera.

Best Play: Exceptional competition for this. Even with honourable mentions for the almost unbearable to watch West End revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, the fine Old Vic revival of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and the politically powerful Limehouse at the Donmar it's still impossible to separate Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, Angels in America at the National and The Ferryman (which I was lucky enough to see during Royal Court run).

Worst Play: Equally another year of exceptional competition for this one. The National and the Almeida continued to produce far too many turkeys – the former's dire Common particularly lodges in the mind. But the Edinburgh International Festival takes the palm for the almost unbelievably tedious Real Magic.


Best Musical: Another vintage year. Honourable mentions for a show I didn't review – The Life at Southwark and one I did – the Menier's lovely revival of She Loves Me. But the palm goes to the long awaited, simply stunning Follies revival at the National (where's that transfer/cast recording??).

Worst Musical: No Award.

Best Concert: The glorious Ella and Dizzy tribute concert at the 2017 Proms.

Worst Concert: No Award.

A Memorable Moment: Eve Best and Anthony Stewart Head putting on their public faces to meet their guests and concealing the hearts we know are breaking in the Menier's magnificent revival of Love in Idleness.

Shows Dr Pollard is still awaiting revivals for: The list remains sadly exactly the same as last year with one exception: Stephen Oliver's Timon of Athens, 1776 the musical, Prokofiev's War and Peace.

Shows Dr Pollard is looking forward to in 2018: It looks like potentially another vintage year for musicals - I have to wait till September for the most exciting which is Patti LuPone's appearance in the Marianne Elliott directed Company revival in the West End. The transfer of the Chichester Caroline or Change to Hampstead with the great Sharon D. Clarke is also high on the list as is the UK premiere of Fun Home at the Young Vic. I was lucky in securing Hamilton tickets for early January but despite the Stateside raves the songs I've encountered in advance haven't especially grabbed me – I'll be interested to see if the live experience convinces me. On the opera side the world premiere of Turnage's Coraline at the Royal Opera and Barber's Vanessa at Glyndebourne top the list for me. Finally the return of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra to these shores (Barbican in February) is always cause for celebration.

Wish for 2018: That Rufus Norris's National Theatre finally finds some consistency of form.

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