Here, in random order, are ten musical events that remain in my memory after a wonderful year of reviewing and concert-going.

  1. concert:nova created fi:re, an incendiary musical conflagration that mixed the music of Piazzolla, Ginastera, Golijov and de Falla in one evening, played by some of Cincinnati’s finest musicians, led by Ixi Chen, the group’s heart and soul, in an unlikely venue: a former furniture warehouse in one of Cincinnati’s suburbs.
  2. MamLuft&Co.Dance stunned one with The Tragedy of Time performed on the grand staircase of the Cincinnati Art Museum stretching the boundaries of the dance genre beyond the imaginable.
  3. Cincinnati Opera’s production and cast of Francesco Cavalli’s 17th century romp La Calisto perfectly balanced the story’s randy and rambunctious elements with its delicate portions.
  4. Frank Weinstock in February’s Bearcat Piano Festival, at CCM, made music with a keen instinct for the poetic and the dramatic, his musicianship and musicality ageless, his energy and endurance that of a man half his age.
  5. Dawn Upshaw sang a colorful mix of Ives, Ravel, Bartok and Bolcolm for Cincinnati Chamber Music. Trinidadian soprano Jeannine de Bique made an auspicious Cincinnati debut, part of Matinee Musicale’s 102nd season. Countertenor Andreas Scholl gave a fine all-Lieder recital at CCM. Baritone Andrew Garland sang a terrific all-American Matinee Musicale recital with that most superlative of accompanists, Donna Loewy. All four belied all grumblings about the death of the song recital.
  6. Aubrey Berg and his production team, Stephen Goers, Diane Lala, Mark Halprin, Dean Mogle, David LaRose and Jeremy J. Lee successfully represented CCM in a production of Les Miserables that won them a fine judgment from judicious lovers of the musical. In the cast of hopefuls, three young artists stole the hearts of the audience: Julian Decker as Jean Valjean, Kimber Elayne Sprawl as Fantine and Lawson Young as Eponine.
  7. In Chabrier’s L’ étoile at CCM, in Robin Guarino’s fun and funny take on French comic opera, the fast-rising mezzo-soprano Sofia Selowsky, was the ideal singer for the ‘dugazon’ part of Lazuli, her supple voice with just the right balance of mezzo richness at the low end of the compass and a glistening upper-range. Boyishly beautiful, Selowsky was never better than in the bedtime serenade to her beneficent star, sung so as to melt the hardest of hearts.
  8. Maurice Ravel wrote L’ enfant et les sortileges after returning home from driving an ambulance in the killing fields of Flanders. His music and Colette’s libretto proved to be the perfect antidote to 21st-century cynicism and February-in-Cincinnati snowbound blues, in Kenneth Shaw’s sensitive production at CCM, in which the young soprano Annalise Dzwoncyzk, in the role of a spoiled child made one forgive all of her bad behavior once she opened her mouth to sing in a lovely soprano voice.
  9. In her main-stage directorial debut, Israeli director Omer Ben Seadia led the cast of Don Pasquale at CCM, with a full command of the style that infuses the spirit of Donizetti’s masterpiece, her comedic conceits solidly anchored in the raucous Italian commedia tradition of randy behavior and bourgeois bad manners that Carlo Goldoni perfected. Mark Gibson led the orchestra, principals and chorus with panache and a complete understanding of ‘bel canto’ style, brisk tempi and overall clarity. Charles (Zach) Owen, a hugely promising young lyric bass in his early 20’s, played the Don with assured delicacy.
  10. Claudio Monteverdi composed nine books of madrigals for mixed voices, among them ‘Madrigali guerrieri e amorosi’, which was given a vivid performance of excerpts by a group of excellent musicians led by Catacoustic Consort’s Annalisa Pappano. Among the singers, Michael Maniacci, sang in a pure-voiced male soprano, inhabiting the spirit and style of this music to utter perfection.

Rafael de Acha

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *