“Best of 2016” Honors

Play Anon: This was some of the finest singing I’ve ever heard at the Four Seasons Centre, bar none. Pisaroni’s full, rich bass baritone, his careful, loving attention to detail and controlled, luscious vibrato was matched by soprano Leah Crocetto’s Anna, who nimbly showcased a vivid coloratura as well as sweet timbre with a firm undertone that’s perfectly suited to the various shades of the character. Mezzo soprano Elizabeth DeShong, in the trouser role of Calbo was, in a word, shattering; the sustained applause at the end of her aria convincing Anna’s father of her innocence deserved every hearty “bravo” it received. David Laera’s sensuous choreography, especially the sinewy, swirling bellydancer who featured in the production’s second half, made for a gorgeous opera experience.

Washington Classical Review – Honorable Mention: It was a year of many great vocal recitals. Two of them made the list above, but we could also have included several others … Leah Crocetto presented by Washington National Opera.

Fred Plotkin, WQXR Operavore: The time has come to recognize some of the most memorable achievements in opera in 2016. This year I attended 101 opera performances and many recitals and concerts. Not surprisingly, more were at the Metropolitan Opera than any other theater, but I saw operas presented by 26 different companies in the United States, Canada, Austria, England, Germany and Italy.

As readers recall from the Excellence in Opera Awards bestowed in 20132014 and 2015, these honors only go to artists and productions I actually heard. Therefore, if you saw something marvelous that I did not, I did not exclude your favorite because of merit, but just because I did not have the pleasure to attend it. In the comments section of this article, feel free to describe the most memorable achievements in opera in 2016 that you experienced.

There is plenty to be preoccupied about in the current state of opera (and the world in general), but I saw a lot of superb work in 2016. Any year that can give us two new operas (Fellow Travelers and Breaking the Waves) that are instant masterpieces, and two world-class productions (Le Comte Ory and Macbeth) at the always surprising LoftOpera, is a lot be grateful for. I heard lots of amazing singing from artists ranging from age 25 to 75, more so than in recent years. Herewith, the winners of the 2016 Excellence in Opera Awards …

Honorable Mention: Leah Crocetto (Anna, Maometto II, Canadian Opera Company, Toronto)