Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last of the Year Lookback

Not a great year for the number of concerts I got to, owing to jujitsu at inconvenient times and the couple of months of either being sick or taking care of my injured partner (or both). Still, many great things among what I did see. In no particular order:

  • Birtwistle at 80 festival at the Barbican Centre in London, with special thumbs up for Gawain and the rarely-seen Yan Tan Tethera.
  • Peter Grimes at San Francisco Symphony, one of the greatest opera performances I've ever seen.
  • Herbert Blomsted at SFS, conducting the Nieslsen clarinet concerto and Schubert's Great C Major Symphony, a program that showed the usually-boring Schubert for the great piece it really is. Don't ask me how he did it.
  • Norma at San Francisco Opera. Pretty great singing, there.
  • West Edge Opera's summer season, with a truly funny and touching Boheme and bang-up performances of Hydrogen Jukebox and The End of the Affair. (The latter is not a very good opera, but the performance was first-rate.)
  • Juliana Di Giacomo in Ballo at SF Opera, though I'm certainly sorry not to have heard Krassimira Stoyanova.
  • Lianna Haroutounian in Tosca at SF Opera. A major voice comes to town.

Heroes of the Year 1: Osmo Vanska, Robert Spano, and our man Donald Runnicles, for standing with the musicians during the lockouts as Minnesota and Atlanta.

Anti-Heroes of the Year 1: The executives at Minnesota and Atlanta, for locking out those on whom their own jobs should rightly depend, and for not understanding that the business of orchestras is to play music.

Heroes of the Year 2: Everybody in San Diego who pulled together to keep SD Opera from going dark.

Anti-Heroes of the Year 2: The clowns at SD Opera who thought they just couldn't go on and tried to close the company down.

Eye-Rolling of the Year: Peter Gelb's threats to lock out the Met. 

Cowardice of the Year: Also to Peter Gelb, for caving to donors and various people who'd never seen the opera and canceling the HD broadcast of The Death of Klinghoffer.

Those Who've Left Us: I'm of course missing a few, but click this link for my obituaries. Ave atque vale to the dead, with a special nod to the great sopranos Licia Albanese and Magda Olivero, and to tenor Carlo Bergonzi.


Dr.B said...

I'm really sorry I missed Peter Grimes.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Oh, I am sorry too. I should write something about it, finally.

Matthew Travisano said...

Totally agree regarding the execs at the Atlanta and Minnesota orchestras. They acted like JP Morgans and forgot they were heading up arts organizations. Those lockouts were mean spirited and vengeful. Hopefully others will learn how not to run an orchestra.

Lisa Hirsch said...

All of that.

Atlanta has been in bad financial shape for a long time, with 12 years of deficits or something. Seven of those were under Alison Vulgamore, who is now chief exec of the Philadelphia and led them happily into bankruptcy. (Philadelphia has had all sorts of leadership issues: a board that seems to not care what's going on, music director churn, CEO churn.)