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…
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Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 This is what happens when you tattoo Charmander on yourself, drunk, and with no experience
- 2 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 3 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 4 The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has leaked – watch
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a white stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Russian warships in English Channel 'to conduct anti-aircraft and anti-submarine military drills'