Watching Aleksandra Kurzak whipping a lovesick Roberto Alagna into line in L'elisir d'amore at the Royal Opera House was one of the delights of this operatic year: this Polish soprano has immaculate coloratura, and is an irresistible comedian.
L'heure Espagnole and L'enfant et les sortilèges
Laurent Pelly's Glyndebourne productions of Ravel's chamber operas L'heure Espagnole and L'enfant et les sortilèges were as good as it gets: magical stagings, sparkling performances, and lovely orchestral sound thanks to Kazushi Ono's work in the pit.
Something happened in the third of András Schiff's Beethoven recitals at the Wigmore Hall: “inspired” is an understatement for the way he played, giving as exalted and definitive a performance as we are ever likely to hear.
The Tales of Hoffmann
Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann is usually convoluted and implausible: Richard Jones's version for English National Opera made of it something witty, macabre, and disturbingly suggestive. This was that rare thing: a “concept” production that worked.
When Behzod Abduraimov won the London International Piano competition two years ago, it felt like a flash in the pan; but his Southbank debut recital took the breath away: this 22-year-old Uzbek plays like a master, with a winning amalgam of fire and poetry.
Discovery of the year: Georgia Jarman
Arriving unheralded out of the blue, the American soprano Georgia Jarman had audiences gasping in ENO's Tales of Hoffman: incarnating a coloratura-singing doll, her preternaturally agile voice and limbs seemed to morph in a way which was both comic and almost unbelievable.
Turkey of the year: Damon Albarn
Sorry, Damon Albarn, but your co-created opera about the Elizabethan astrologer, cartographer, and mathematician Dr Dee was ENO's most amateurish show in years, with a parish-hall staging and a score so drably forgettable that we pitied those who had to sing it.