It’s that time of year. That time where we look just before we look forward. We look back to remember all the good times of the year so that we can take stock of what we hope for in the new one.
Every year in the opera world has its share of rising and breakout stars as well as opera singers who solidify or take their careers in new directions. Others make important debuts or create roles that audiences would have never expected and conquer. This is what makes a performer stick in an audience’s mind for the whole year. Like last year, OperaWire has put together a list of the Opera stars who made 2017 a year to remember.
11. Plácido Domingo
The legendary singer began celebrating 50 years at the Vienna State Opera with a gala that included scenes from “Un Ballo in Maschera” and “La Traviata” and also celebrated the same milestone at the Los Angeles Opera. He made a role debut as Rodrigo in “Don Carlo” and repeated the same character at the Palau de les Arts. Domingo also celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Metropolitan Opera and was given the distinction of “Hijo Adoptivo de Sevilla” in Spain.
10. Pretty Yende
Yende began the year in New York promoting her first album “A Journey” where she appeared on the Stephen Colbert Show and later on the Wendy Williams. Her reason was to make opera popular and she did just that when she performed in two acclaimed runs at the theater in Rossini’s “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” and Gounod’s “Roméo et Juliette.” And then there was a last minute replacement when she stepped in for Diana Damrau in Bellini’s “I Puritani” and stunned critics. She ended the year releasing her second album “Dreams” and won the Echo Klassik.
9. Michael Fabiano
As Fabiano’s status as a leading tenor continues to soar, so does his high profile engagements and this year was an example of that. He began the year with acclaimed performances of “La Bohème” at the Metropolitan Opera before making an acclaimed turn in the final revival of Willy Decker’s “La Traviata” at the Met. He also made an appearance at the Met National Council awards and in the summer made his role debut as Don Jose in “Carmen” at the Festival Aix-en-Provence. He ended his busy year opening the Royal Opera House in a new production of “La Bohème” and making his role debut in San Francisco Opera’s production of “Manon.” He also has “Rigoletto” at the ROH on slate to finish out the year.
8. Aida Garifullina
Garifullina began her year starring in the Oscar-nominated film “Florence Foster Jenkins” before releasing her debut album for Decca Classics. She followed it up with multiple performances at the Vienna State Opera in her role debut as Gilda and had the honor of performing with Dmitri Hvorostovsky in his last ever performance. She also won the ECHO Klassik award and premiered a new production of “La Bohème” at the Opéra National de Paris.
7. Daniela Mack
The mezzo-soprano began her year with her Metropolitan Opera debut in a new production of “Rusalka” before headlining productions of “La Cenerentola” at the Arizona Opera and “Alcina” at the Washington National Opera and Santa Fe Opera. She also made headlines and galas with the New York Philharmonic and in Opera Louisiane. But perhaps her biggest accomplishment of the year was her work in “Elizabeth Cree.” Mack not only headlined the opening night of Opera Philadelphia’s season, but also world premiered Kevin Puts opera, which received glowing reviews.
6. Adela Zaharia
Before Operalia Zaharia was a star at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein singing “Lucia di Lammermoor” and at the Komische Oper Berlin performing other coloratura roles. However, in the summer she became an overnight sensation winning the 2017 Operalia competition with the mad scene from “Lucia di Lammermoor.” And to top off her award-winning year, she made her Bayerische Staatsoper as Lucia in a performance that had audiences raving.
5. Anna Netrebko
It’s not a surprise Netrebko returns to the list as she has shown her versatility and reliability in the opera world. Netrebko had a whirlwind year opening a new production of “Il Trovatore” at the Vienna State Opera before returning to her signature role of “La Traviata” at La Scala. She followed that up by celebrating the Metropolitan Opera’s 50th anniversary at Lincoln and later with two acclaimed runs of “Eugene Onegin.” She also made three important role debuts. First, she returned to the Mariinsky Theater for “Adriana Lecouvreur” before taking on “Aida” at the Salzburg Festival which was filmed and later opened the Teatro Alla Scala in “Andrea Chénier.” On top of that, she released her first crossover album “Romanza” and got a DVD release of her acclaimed “Lohengrin” and was named Kammersanger at the Vienna State Opera.
4. Renée Fleming
Fleming had an exceptional year which started with the release of her album “Distant Light,” which showcased her in music by Barber, Hillborg and Björk. She would then make headlines in her final staged “Der Rosenkavalier” at the Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Opera House before headling galas at the Metropolitan Opera and Washington National Opera. She also said goodbye to the majority of her roles but debunked any rumors of retirement. She continued her work with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Polyphony and finally, she can be heard on the soundtrack to the award-winning films “The Shape of Water” and “Three Billboards.” Fleming makes her musical Broadway next year in “Carousel.” Talk about a diverse year.
3. Jonas Kaufmann
After months of vocal rest and cancellations last year, Kaufmann returned to the stage for acclaimed runs of “Lohengrin,” a new production of “Andrea Chénier” and a residence at the Barbican Center. He also premiered a new production of “Don Carlo” in Paris and returned to Australia for “Parsifal.” He also released a new French CD for Sony Classical as well as an experimental recording of Mahler’s “Das Lied Von der Erde.” However, what makes him stand out this year is his achievement in his role debut as “Otello,” scaling the heights of the tenor repertoire.
2. Dmitri Hvorostovsky
The great baritone passed away this past fall and while he struggled with illness throughout the year canceling multiple performances, Hvorostovsky still showcased his love for his fans and the artform returning to the stage on various occasions. He joined forces with Anna Netrebko for a star-studded event in Toronto and surprised audiences at the Metropolitan Opera when performed at the 50th Anniversary gala. He also gave one final open-air concert alongside Aida Garifullina, which was recorded live. His final two CDs were also released including a Grammy-nominated “Cast Adrift” and his only recording of “Rigoletto,” which was acclaimed. He leaves an indelible mark on the opera world and one that will be remembered in opera history.
1. Joyce DiDonato
The American Mezzo had a year to remember ringing in 2017 with the New York Philharmonic. She then made headlines with a story that showcased DiDonato bringing her art to prisons and she was featured on the Today Show. On the opera stage, she made three important debuts. It all started with “Semiramide” at the Bayerische Staatsoper which she later reprised at the Royal Opera House. To top that she made an important debut as Didon in “Les Troyens” which was later released on CD. And she also opened the Metropolitan Opera season singing her first staged Adalgisa in “Norma.” DiDonato also helped celebrate the Metropolitan Opera’s 50th anniversary. Her year ended getting the ECHO Klassik award for Singer of the Year and with a Grammy award for her album “In War and Peace,” which she also brought on tour.