2013 - the year in review: The best classical performances of the year
Saturday 28 December 2013
Written on Skin (Royal Opera House)
A 100-minute, interval-free symbolic drama set to post-tonal music might sound rebarbative, but this opera by George Benjamin – in Katie Mitchell’s stylish production – made a riveting evening. A medieval Provençal tale of jealousy and revenge, with a time-travel twist.
Andras Schiff (Wigmore Hall)
This great Hungarian pianist may have his wayward moments, but the Beethoven cycle he gave on an 80-year-old Bechstein took the breath away. No intervals – his hands didn’t even leave the keyboard between sonatas – but the playing was so visionary that one lost all sense of time.
Parsifal (Royal Albert Hall)
Wagner’s “farewell to the world” is ideologically problematic and tricky to stage, but Mark Elder’s Prom with his Halle players and singers turned it into something infinitely more dramatic than Covent Garden’s recent attempt. Elder used every level of the vast, bare auditorium to create extraordinary effects.
Peter Grimes (Aldeburgh)
People said it was crazy, that the wind would drown the singers, that everyone would freeze – but staging Britten’s tragedy on the beach where it was set was a master-stroke. With Alan Oke leading a brilliant cast, no one present will forget what they witnessed under a black sky, in a biting wind, by the water’s edge.
The Phelim McDermott/Julian Crouch production of Philip Glass’s operatic masterpiece was the best ENO revival in years. Sung in Sanskrit sans surtitles, and with a labyrinthine plot, it theoretically shouldn’t have worked, yet the raw power of the music and the luminous beauty of the staging held us spellbound.
Discovery of the year
Milton Court Hall, Barbican, London
This lovely new chamber auditorium has been designed as part of the Guildhall, and is therefore for student use. But it could, if it chose, give Kings Place and the Wigmore a real run for their money.
Turkey of the year
A dead heat – and dead is the operative word – between two meretricious loads of impenetrable garbage: Ben Frost’s The Wasp Factory at the Linbury Theatre, and Michael van der Aa’s Sunken Garden at the Barbican. Just don’t get me started…
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe the Stark may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 5 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe the Stark may have a twin sister
Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
Suicide Squad's Margot Robbie: Jared Leto's now more petrifying when out of his Joker make-up
Novel Scarlett Johansson tried to ban, Grégoire Delacourt’s The First Thing You See, to be published in UK
The Girl in the Spider's Web, David Lagercrantz, review: Stieg Larsson's heroes return in a thrilling new intrigue
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs