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…
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
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- 2 North Korean prison officers 'cooked prisoner's baby and fed it to their dogs', more horrific accounts from UN report reveal
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Mayor says there should be 'no comparison' to Ferguson
- 4 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 5 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Secret Cinema showed The Great Dictator at protest secret screening, following Sony's The Interview cancellation
Best underrated Christmas movies: From Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Cruel Woman in Black prank sees cinema-goers terrified by movie poster - watch their reactions
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
Angelina Jolie 'didn't eat much' in sympathy with actors who had to lose weight for Unbroken
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever