Opera Bubbles Awards 2014!

Hey, opera lovers!!!
Today is the second annual Opera Bubbles Awards!!! YEAH!!!! Briefly, this year’s been very tough for me, mostly emotionally, and watching/listening to great artists or live concerts helped me to get through the difficulties. But enough about bad things! Let’s focus on a bright side!:)
I enjoy doing Opera Bubbles Awards for the second time (Opera Bubbles Awards 2013 is posted here). I like remembering the most exciting art things that happened to me during last year. Thinking of who could be presented in each nomination, I realized that there were not many candidates. This made me ponder and ask myself: «Why?». Reviewing all the past «operatic adventures» in my mind, I came to conclusion that I just hadn’t watched a huge number of opera productions, but… instead, I’d got new experience from lots of CD recordings. So defining winners was very quick and easy for me. Here they are!

Best Opera Discovery – Verdi’s «Macbeth»
Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera
Verdi’s masterpiece had always been in my must-see list but only in 2014 I got a great opportunity to fill the gap by watching Met’s production of «Macbeth» with Anna Netrebko. I was really moved by the story and by the powerful music of this Italian composer! I would call it an operatic thriller/drama cause there you find a murder, betrayal but also love and justice. And now I’m really looking forward to watching Verdi’s another opera based on Shakespeare’s piece - «Otello».

Best Opera Production – Verdi’s «Falstaff» (Metropolitan Opera 2013)
Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
It’s definitely «Falstaff» from Metropolitan Opera (2013). In regard to the score, I can’t say anything good or bad, for me it’s just usual. I can’t even remember at least one melody from this opera (maybe because there are almost no arias in it, ensembles all the time). But the plot itself and the production by Robert Carsen have made the opera one of the most entertaining performances I’ve ever seen! The cast led by Ambrogio Maestri is hilarious! I just couldn’t help laughing! 

Best Female Singer – Cecilia Bartoli
In my opinion, Cecilia is one of the greatest mezzos of all time! Her technique is impeccable and, moreover, she shows us a huge range of emotions with her beautiful voice! Cecilia has this fantastic combination which makes her the one and only. In 2014 I began listening to her discography and I’m still doing it cause, you know, it’s a pretty big pile of CDs:). Her recordings…oh! It’s another story. They include so many baroque rarities. The tracklists can even surprise an experienced opera lover! I’m absolutely blown away by her singing and by the beauty of this forgotten music! And that’s why I’ve chosen Cecilia Bartoli as the best female singer in 2014!

Best Male Singer – Ildar Abdrazakov
Ildar Abdrazakov! The second year in a row! He is still an amazing, artistic and handsome bass:). This year he’s successfully debuted as Prince Igor in Borodin’s opera at the Met, performed very often in Russia (which is very cool for us, Russian fans!), and a lot of his concerts have been shown on Russian TV!!! So in 2014 there has been a lot of Ildar which makes me put him on the first place in this nomination:).  

Best Solo CD – Joyce DiDonato «Stella di Napoli»
Great CD!!! I love it! Again Joyce demonstrates an astonishing technique and artistic skills in her new recording of bel canto arias. Most pieces were new to me. I’m really grateful to Joyce for broadening our music horizons by presenting some rarely-performed composers like Pacini. I personally got interested in Pacini’s works and wanna listen to his operas in the future. I’ve already written a review dedicated to this CD, you can read it here. 

Best Opera/Chamber Music Recording – Steffani «Stabat Mater»
«Stabat Mater» has always been an inspiration for many composers. And I find this sacred piece heavenly beautiful! No matter who exactly composed it, every version of «Stabat Mater» is very unique and touching! A while ago I got to know about «Stabat Mater» by Agostino Steffani and immediately decided that I would listen to it.  THIS IS GREAT!!! It has such a sublime score for choir…I just can’t find the right words to describe my admiration! Of course, there are solo numbers but choral singing plays a crucial role. So now Steffani’s «Stabat Mater» is one of my favorites.

Best New Idol - Julia Lezhneva
Franck Jurey/Naive Franck Jurey/Naive/PR
Julie Lezhneva is a rising star of the opera world. At her young age she has proved that she is a very skillful and talented performer. Her signing is light and wonderful; every note is a pure joy for ears! Since 2014 I’ve been keeping up with her career, her recordings. If you wanna listen to Julia’s voice in all its glory, I recommend you CD «Alleluja». Julia Lezhneva is a big fan of baroque music, her schedule is full of those kind of projects. And this very disc presents her in the best way!

Best Concert – State Chamber Orchestra «Moscow Virtuosi»
I’ve been lucky to attend a lot of wonderful concerts this year but I’m gonna emphasize one special event that is the recital of State Chamber Orchestra «Moscow Virtuosi» conducted by maestro Vladimir Spivakov. I’ve been at their concert for the second time. And I feel so happy that I could have listened to one of the best chamber orchestras in Russia! «Virtuosi» presented a programme including pieces by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Piazzolla and they also accompanied Anna Aglatova, a young singer from Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater. Maestro Spivakov is a unique conductor cause he always «plays» with every note in a score and shares his feelings with musicians as well as with the audience. You just can’t take your eyes of him: his gestures are so emotional and adorable! And the orchestra, in turn, sounds very bright, energetic; pianos are insanely good!!! If you have an opportunity to hear «Moscow Virtuosi» live in your hometown, please, do it!

Best Event – The ballet «Spartacus»
«Spartacus» has definitely become a life-changing experience for me! I’ve completely changed my mind about ballet after watching it live! I think there is no point in repeating myself so, if you want, you can read my more detailed review of «Spartacus» here.

Maybe, you’ve noticed that there is no award for «Best Duet» this year (unlike in the previous year). Unfortunately, I couldn’t have found a fabulous stage couple which stole the show in 2014. I hope that 2015 will change this situation:).

P.S. What concert or opera performance has been the most impressing for you in 2014? What singers have been the best this year in your opinion? Maybe you can suggest perfect candidates for «Best Duet» of 2014? Share your thoughts and emotions in the comments below;).


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