So: here are the winners of the Immies for 2012.
Performances of the year:
Concert: Britten “War Requiem”; Philharmonia Orchestra under Lorin Maazel, in the Festival Hall back in March. I don’t always like Maazel’s conducting, he often strikes me as terribly cool and measured, but with the War Requiem to play with, and my favourite orchestra and chorus, and a top-notch trio of soloists, he really got fired up and let rip, and the result was a truly fabulous performance. Especial honours to brilliant Mark Padmore (still having trouble believing this chap was at school with my brother Steve), the heart-rending tenor soloist.
Operas: “Der Rosenkavalier”, ENO at the Coliseum. “Peter Grimes”, ENO at the Proms. Impossible to slip a sheet of paper between these two for quality of performance; conducting, playing and cast were all first class. It was fascinating to see how the ENO “Peter Grimes” actually got even better when done as a concert performance rather than a fully-staged production – a real indicator of the strength of the performances and the commitment of all concerned.
Stage play: Nick Payne “Constellations” at the Duke of York’s Theatre. An extraordinary piece of work; funny, moving and deeply thought-provoking – and a tour de force for the cast.
Exhibition: David Hockney at the Royal Academy. Marvellous, inspirational stuff.
Dance: The Royal Ballet revivals of Ashton’s “The Dream” and “A Month in the Country” and Wayne McGregor’s “Infra”. Such a total contrast that I cannot pick between them.
Performers of the year:
Opera: Stuart Skelton in the ENO “Peter Grimes” prom, see above; Otto Maidi in the Cape Town Opera production of “Porgy and Bess”.
Stage: Rafe Spall in “Constellations” – an object lesson in how to make a thoroughly ordinary guy into a credible romantic hero.
Dance: Zenaida Yanowsky in “A Month in the Country”. Luxuriously gorgeous in her abandonment, in duets with first Gary Avis and then Rupert Pennefather, and heart-breaking in her final moments of desolation. She was also a superb Odette/Odile in “Swan Lake” in the autumn; no mere princess here but a true Swan Queen, regal, mythic and tragic.