Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

2010 - The Good Parts 3

December 19, 2010


The mystique around Christine Brewer seemed to cement itself in the collective mind of classical music listeners this year. Even The New York Times’ Anthony Tommasini lamented this year how the most important Wagnerian soprano of her generation has made only rare appearances in Wagner’s great roles and has yet to sing a complete Brünnhilde anywhere. We on the West Coast have been spoiled in the number and frequency of her appearances among friends like Donald Runnicles and the folks at Santa Fe Opera. Her Isolde, which she performed with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the L.A. Philharmonic on two separate occasions in 2006 and 2007 remain all-time high water marks in my history listening to music. (She also sang the role in 2006 in San Francisco under Runnicles.) This year she gave a searing performance of Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder in June in L.A. and appeared in Britten’s Albert Herring in Santa Fe over the summer. But perhaps her biggest gift to us this year was her fantastic disc of Strauss scenes on Telarc with Donald Runnicles conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Definitely among the year’s best. (The disc also features a cameo from Eric Owens, a bass-baritone who proved in the Metropolitan Opera's new Das Rheingold in September that he has an amazing career in Wagner ahead of him.) And if you need more evidence, below is a sample of Brewer from an appearance as The Dyer's Wife in Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten from the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2007.

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