Best of the Year
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Best of the Year

The must-have CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays that we reviewed in 2014.

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A Dozen of Our Favorite Full-length Opera CD Releases: 
CIPULLO:  Glory Denied
(Fort Worth Opera Festival, Tyson Deaton; Albany)
DONIZETTI: Belisario
(BBC Singers and Symphony, Mark Elder; Opera Rara)
HANDEL: Belshazzar
(Les Arts Florissants, William Christie; LAF)
HANDEL: Orlando
(B’Rock Orchestra Ghent, René Jacobs; Archiv)
MUHLY: Two Boys
(Metropolitan Opera, David Robertson; Nonesuch)
SCHREKER: Die Gezeichneten
(Los Angeles Opera, James Conlon; Bridge)
R. STRAUSS: Elektra
(Staatskapelle Dresden, Christian Thielemann; DG)
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SULLIVAN:  Iolanthe
(Lamplighters Music Theatre, Baker Peeples; Lamplighters)
VERDI:  Giovanna d’Arco
(Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Carignani; DG)
WAGNER:  Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
(LPO, Vladimir Jurowski; Glyndebourne)
WAGNER:  Der Ring des Nibelungen
(Seattle Opera, Asher Fisch; Avie)
WAGNER:  Siegfried
(Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Marek Janowski; Pentatone)

Michael Tilson Thomas led the San Francisco Symphony and a mix of opera and Broadway singers in a superlative West Side Story.

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BLASTS FROM THE PAST: The best of the year’s historic issues were Verdi at the Met, Sony’s boxed-set reissue of ten historic Verdi performances broadcast between 1935 and 1967; Naxos’s reissue of Peter Maxwell Davies’s The Lighthouse, conducted by the composer; Covent Garden performances of Medea, with Maria Callas (1959), and Die Walküre, led by Georg Solti (1961); Orfeo’s tribute to Irmgard Seefried; and Decca’s program of French arias from Joseph Rouleau.

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The Year’s Top Twelve Recital Discs  

Ildar AbdrazakovPower Players (Delos)
Cecilia BartoliSt. Petersburg (Decca)
Nicole CabellChanson d’Avril (Delos)
Max Emanuel CencicRokoko (Decca)
Alice CooteHandel Arias (Hyperion)
Sabine DevieilheLe Grand Théâtre de L’Amour (Erato)
Vittorio GrigòloThe Romantic Hero (Sony)
Thomas HampsonNotturno (DG)
Dmitri HvorostovskyThe Bells of Dawn (Ondine)
Jonas KaufmannYou Mean the World to Me (Sony)
Olga PeretyatkoArabesque (Sony)
Anna ProhaskaBehind the Lines (DG)

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Stellar turns included Piotr Beczala in Verdi’s Requiem from Paris Opera (Erato); Alessandro Corbelli as Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola (Glyndebourne); Iestyn Davies as Daniel in Belshazzar (Les Arts Florissants); Anja Kampe as Isolde (Glyndebourne); Katarina Karnéus as Donizetti’s Rita (Opera Rara); Alexandra Silber as Maria in West Side Story (SFS Media); Claudia Sorokina as Selika in Vasco de Gama (CPO); and Mary Wilson in Laudate Pueri Dominum with American Bach Soloists (ABS).

Joseph Calleja’s recital disc was titled Amore
Juan Diego Flórez released L’Amour.

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Our Top Five DVD and Blu-ray Releases 

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(Peter Sellars, Berliner Philharmoniker; Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings)
GLUCK: Orfeo ed Euridice
(Ondřej Havelka, Baroque Theatre of Český Krumlov Castle; Arthaus Musik)
MOZART: Die Zauberflöte
(Robert Carsen, Festspiele Baden-Baden; Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings)
R. STRAUSS: Elektra
(Patrice Chéreau, Aix-en-Provence; BelAir Classiques)
WAGNER: Parsifal
(François Girard, Metropolitan Opera; Sony)

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Among the best individual performances on DVD and Blu-ray were Jay Hunter Morris as Heggie’s Captain Ahab (San Francisco), Torsten Kerl in the title role of Théâtre du Capitole’s Rienzi (Opus Arte), Juan Diego Flórez as Corradino in Matilde di Shabran (Decca), René Pape as Gurnemanz in the Met’s Parsifal (Sony), Alexander Tsymbalyuk as Boris Godunov (BelAir), Anna Mikołajczyk as Sikora’s Madame Curie (DUX), Carmela Remigio’s contrarian Desdemona in Venice (C Major) and Anna Goryachova as a go-go version of Rossini’s Italian Girl (Opus Arte).


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INSTANT REPLAYS: Tracks that made us hit the “Repeat” button included “Au mont Ida,” on Juan Diego Flórez’s L’Amour; Krassimira Stoyanova’s “Tu che le vanità,” on Verdi; Karina Gauvin’s “Deh vieni, non tardar,” on her Mozart disc; and Joyce DiDonato in the Saffo finale on Stella di Napoli.


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