The Best of the Year

We offer our favorites among CDs and DVDs we reviewed in 2011.

Our Top Ten Opera CD Releases

1. Aldridge: Elmer Gantry (Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, William Boggs; Naxos)
2. Beethoven: Fidelio (Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Claudio Abbado; Decca)
3. Donizetti: Linda di Chamounix (Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Mark Elder; Opera Rara)
4. Gluck: Ezio (Il Complesso Barocco, Alan Curtis; Virgin)
5. Handel: Ariodante (Il Complesso Barocco, Alan Curtis; Virgin)
6. Hoiby: Summer and Smoke (Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater, Steven Osgood; Albany)
7. Martin: Der Sturm (Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Thierry Fischer; Hyperion)
8. Previn: Brief Encounter (Houston Grand Opera Orchestra, Patrick Summers; Deutsche Grammophon)
9. Vivaldi: Farnace (I Barocchisti, Diego Fasolis; Virgin)
10. Wagner: Parsifal (Mariinsky Opera, Valery Gergiev; Mariinsky Opera) 

INSTANT REPLAYS:  Tracks that deserve special attention included "Ombra di nube," from Jonas Kaufmann's Verismo Arias (Decca); "O Dive Custos Auriacae Domus," a duet by Andreas Scholl and Christophe Dumaux on O Solitude (Decca); "The Song of Songs," from Christine Brewer's Echoes of Nightingales (Hyperion); and any of Susanna Phillips's contributions to Wasting the Night, an album of Scott Wheeler songs (Naxos).


CLASS ACTS: Among the year's remarkable individual performances were William Burden in The Turn of the Screw (Glyndebourne); Joyce DiDonato and Karina Gauvin in Ariodante (Virgin); Gerald Finley as Guillaume Tell (EMI); Carmen Giannattasio and Colin Lee in Ermione (Opera Rara); Eglise Gutiérrez in Linda di Chamounix (Opera Rara) and La Sonnambula (Dynamic DVD); and Anna Netrebko in Pergolesi's Stabat Mater (EMI).

WHEN HE’S GOOD, HE’S VERY, VERY GOOD, BUT… Valery Gergiev led the Mariinsky Opera in a new recording of Lucia di Lammermoor


WELCOME RETURNS:  Paul Czinner's film of Der Rosenkavalier, with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, was issued on Blu-ray (Kultur); La Scala's 1978 La Forza del Destino, previously available on VHS, made its DVD debut (Hardy Classics).

MORE, PLEASE:  Countertenor Iestyn Davies, soprano Aleksandra Kurzak and baritone Henk Neven delivered impressive debut recitals.

THANK GOODNESS, LEGITIMATE AT LAST:  A series of historic Met broadcasts, long available to the public only as "pirate" releases, was issued on CD by Sony Classical — with the Met's cooperation.

The Year's Twelve Best Recital Discs

1. Piotr Beczala, Slavic Opera Arias (Orfeo)
2. Diana Damrau, Poesie (Virgin)
3. Stéphane Degout and Hélène Lucas, Mélodies (Naïve)
4. Joyce DiDonato, Diva/Divo (Virgin)
5. Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Sondra Radvanovsky, Verdi Opera Scenes (Delos)
6. Jonas Kaufmann, Verismo Arias (Decca)
7. Nino Machaidze, Romantic Arias (Sony)
8. Peter Mattei, Great Baritone Arias (Bis)
9. Anna Netrebko, Live at The Metropolitan Opera (DG)
10. Thomas Quasthoff, Tell It Like It Is (DG)
11. Erwin Schrott, Rojotango (Sony)
12. Elizabeth Watts, J.S. Bach: Cantatas and Arias (Harmonia Mundi)

TOO BAD LA DIVINA CAN'T RETURN THE COMPLIMENT:  Angela Gheorghiu released a CD tribute to Maria Callas.

Our Top Ten DVD and Blu-ray releases 

1. Braunfels: Die Vögel (Darko Tresnjak, Los Angeles Opera; Arthaus Musik)
2. Britten: Billy Budd (Michael Grandage, Glyndebourne Opera; Opus Arte)
3. Donizetti: Don Pasquale (Otto Schenk, The Metropolitan Opera; with Anna Netrebko; DG)
4. Halévy: Clari (Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier, Zurich Opera; with Cecilia Bartoli; Decca)
5. Massenet: Werther (Benoît Jacquot, Opéra de Paris; with Jonas Kaufmann; Decca)
6. Mozart: Don Giovanni (Carl Ebert, Deutsche Oper Berlin; with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau; Arthaus Musik)
7. Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Anthony Minghella, The Metropolitan Opera; with Patricia Racette; Sony)
8. Reimann: Medea (Marco Arturo Marelli, Wiener Staatsoper; with Marlis Petersen; Arthaus Musik)
9. Turnage: Anna Nicole (Richard Jones, The Royal Opera, Covent Garden; with Eva-Maria Westbroek; Opus Arte)
10. Ullmann: Der Zerbrochene Krug/Zemlinsky: Der Zwerg (Darko Tresnjak, Los Angeles Opera; Arthaus Musik) spacer 

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