My Favorite Columbus Performances of 2012

Linda Dorff and Matt Clemens in "Souvenir"(Photo: CATCO)
Linda Dorff and Matt Clemens in "Souvenir"(Photo: CATCO)

This is not a best of list, but who’s to say?

These are the performances given in Columbus in 2012 that meant the most to me.

Before we get on with the list, I want to give special mention to two local productions.

This year’s most innovative programming was ProMusica Chamber Orchestra. Although I wanted to give special mention to Linda Dorff as Florence Foster Jenkins in CATCO’s production of ‘Souvenir.’

CATCO/Phoenix 
The Rubinstein Kiss by James Phillips

An unflinching look at the lives and death of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, executed for “conspiracy to commit espionage” by the federal government in 1953.

Shattering performances by Kai Poole and Kim Garrison Hopecraft all the way back in January. Steven Anderson drew gentle and soulful performances that further illuminated the story. You were breathless even knowing the ending.

Columbus Symphony
Mahler and French Feast

There are two tests for an orchestra. One is Mahler, and the CSO excelled with the 6th Symphony in February. The other is French music. Berlioz, Ravel, Debussy, Messiaen, all of these require a razor-sharp precision and clarity. One must just play the notes (as with Mozart) which can be very difficult.

Jean-Marie Zeitouni and the CSO gave us magnificent French music by Debussy, Chausson Faure and Ravel in May. The superb Columbus Symphony chorus completed the program with the Durufle Requiem.

Opera Columbus and Shadowbox
em>La boheme

They’re back, producing opera in a way new to Columbus. La boheme was presented on Sundays in October and Novmeber, in a cabaret style staging at Shadowbox. The opera was abridged, sung in English and cast with young singers. It worked! You couldn’t get in without a reservation well in advance, and the run was extended.

Shadowbox further contributed a spirited ambiance. You could enjoy Puccini’s two-hankie opera over burgers and a brew and a good cry. Most of the audiences had never before seen an opera-and now they’ve been spoiled. Welcome back, Opera Columbus.

Ballet Met
The American Songbook

Ballet Met performs all over the city. For the American Songbook, we were invited to their performance space on Mt. Vernon Avenue.

Dear Miss Cline, Simply Sammyand Before the Dawn, gave us The American Songbook with Patsy Cline, Sammy Davis, Jr., Cole Porter and Irving Berlin. The Columbus Gay Men’s chorus added dash. Ballet Met’s dancers were athletic and impressive. This was a perfect show for those new to ballet, and champagne for ballet lovers everywhere. The September and October run was extended with all performances sold out.

Note to Ballet Met. More please!

St. Joseph Cathedral Choir
Complete Choral Works of Maurice Durufle

The cathedral has a magnificent acoustic for music. Maurice Durufle (1902-1986) was an organist and composer and a leading composer of liturgical music. His work reflects a love for Gregorian chant.

The lines are simply, a tad understated and very beautiful. Paul Thornock and the Cathedral Schola gave transcendent performances of the Missa cum Jubilo; Four Gregorian Motets; Pater Noster and the Requiem in Novmeber Nothing but beauty.

Columbus Symphony with Tito Munoz
Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 2

I said “Who is this guy anyway?” He’s going to be a star, this New York born guest conductor is only 29-year-old.

He had my vote early, by programming music by American Henry Cowell. His performance the of the Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 2 showed the Columbus Symphony at its very best. Elina Vahala rocked the place with the Sibelius Violin Concerto in November. I said before I’d pay good money just to look at her – don’t quote me.  Another great night for the Columbus Symphony.

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