It was a very good year. In some respects.

I made several attempts at getting everything I saw in one mosaic. Turns out that I don’t have an pictures from the Ariadne auf Naxos I saw in the spring, and only a curtain photo of Boris Godunov. And quite possibly nothing at all from Nabucco (either that, or I’m blind). The two recitals that have sneaked into this photo were both special in different ways. Roddy Williams was my “most listened to” artist of the year on Spotify; the Arts fest recital programme was all about English song (specifically Cotswolds songs), and afterwards I listened to every song exhaustively. The second recital, Sarah Connolly at the Wigmore Hall, was a launch event for a book about English song. Very different, but no less exciting selection, and a rather special personal memory for me.
Some other exciting things that happened in 2016, in descending order. Read about Sarah Connolly’s masterclass here, about Sir Thomas Allen here, about the Weston Library Shakespeare exhibition and Dame Maggie and Alan Bennett here, and about how I met Dame Penelope Wilton here. Also pictured: tourists flocking to van Gogh’s sunflowers in the National Gallery, where I went for the first time in few years before my first Norma in the summer; The Globe, where I saw Midsummer Night’s Dream on a particularly cold, miserable Midsummer day with a Swedish friend; Vita Sackville-West’s typewriter in Sissinghurst; and a postcard of the Aino legend painting by Akseli Gallen-Kallela bought from Ateneum (Finnish national gallery) – a story in which Vainamoinen, the Finnish mythic hero, falls in love as an old man with a young girl who rather drowns herself.
I love a good ceiling. Left to right: The Victoria Arms in Oxford, Salisbury Cathedral, the Music Room in Oriel College, the ENO, the National Gallery, St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol, Bristol Central Library, stairwell in my friend’s house in Helsinki, the “barn” in the Royal Opera.
Great museum moments: the Frederick Leighton House, Weston Library, National Gallery, Ashmolean, the First Folio in the Weston Library, Finnish National Museum, Auguste Rodin’s hand in Ateneum in Helsinki, the old and new cast gallery in the Ashmolean.
Further attempt at every-opera-in-2016: Boris Godunov, Lucia di Lammermoor (I had forgotten all about that, this is the only picture from that performance), Ariadne auf Naxos, Oedipe, what must have been Nabucco, second Norma, Werther, Il Trovatore, Manon Lescaut. Oedipe was the most memorable staging, while Ariadne offered some of the most emotionally powerful music I have ever heard in the ROH. Karita Mattila’s singing was sublime, transcendent. I have heard some great things in Covent Garden, and some very famous singers, but somehow that experience of sublimity is elusive, and she brought it.

In 2017: Rosenkavalier in a week’s time, Marta Argerich, Janine Jansen, Adriana Lecouvreur…

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