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Best opera of 2016

Hello, loyal opera fans! I’m Ilana Walder-Biesanz, a not-so-new blogger for Opera Vivrà. I wrote here back in 2013 and 2014, but I’ve been away for the past couple years and am looking forward to blogging (and reading all of your comments) once again.

Your blogger (that would be me) as Phani is Rameau’s Les Indes galantes

I’m interested in opera from many different perspectives. I currently work as a freelance opera critic (for San Francisco Classical Voice and Bachtrack). I also sing. I claim to be a trouser-role lyric mezzo, and most of the arias I sing in concert fit that description, but somehow the full roles I have sung in staged productions have been written for Baroque sopranos. (I’m confused, too.) I wrote my master’s thesis on gender and sexuality in stagings of La clemenza di Tito, so you can sometimes catch me reading academic books and articles on opera as well. And of course I’m an avid operagoer who attends everything at my local opera house (San Francisco Opera) and travels as much as my schedule and budget will allow to catch interesting productions elsewhere in the world.

I’d like to start the year with a request for you: let me know what you want to read about. Opera is a huge field. I have all sorts of topics I’m excited to tackle. A few that come to mind:

  • Season programming
  • The textual sources of opera
  • Neglected gems
  • Interesting scorings
  • Race and Orientalism in operas
  • Gender and sexuality in operas
  • Recording reviews
  • Summaries and reviews of interesting opera-related books

But mostly, I want to write about the topics that interest you. To that end, feel free to comment on this post or email me (ilana [at] operavivra [dot] com) to let me know if you’re especially excited about anything on the list above (I can blog about that first) or to suggest other areas to explore. If you email, please mention the blog. (People do sometimes email me random opera-related questions.) Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

To kick off the year, I’ll follow the tradition of offering a “best of 2016” list. Here are my ten favorite opera experiences of the last year.

Best opera of 2016

An honorable mention goes to Martha at Pocket Opera. In terms of sheer production quality, this wouldn’t make the list (reduced orchestration and obvious low budget), but the opera itself is so charming and was a new discovery to me! Donald Pippin’s English translation seemed very singable and was a joy to listen to.

I hope you saw as many wonderful performances as I did in 2016. I wish you (and myself) another year of great opera!

  1. Bryan NewsonBryan Newson01-06-2017

    Dear Ilana:

    Thanks for such refreshing views. From choices you offer for future blogs, please cover neglected gems; opera recordings; and summaries and reviews of books on or related to opera. And, of course, please comment on operas themselves.

    Thank you!

ov