MADRID – The Teatro Real lived up to its splendid reputation as an innovative, important company. After a stimulating week, one might even argue the renovated theater has surpassed Barcelona's Gran Teatre de Liceu as Spain's opera showplace.
BARCELONA – With Julia Bullock restored to her intended role, John Adams' Shakespearean opera on the ill-starred affair between the Roman general and the Egyptian queen was more gripping here than in the San Francisco premiere.
AMSTERDAM – The Netherlands' Asko|Schönberg ensemble, a multi-instrumental powerhouse, displayed its stylistic dexterity and exceptional ability to respond to any challenge in a concert featuring a world premiere at the Concertgebouw.
LONDON – An exhibition exploring how classic musicals have been adapted, together with three vibrant productions, demonstrated how gifted directors can make familiar favorites fresh again while honoring the original creators' intentions.
SYDNEY – On paper, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra program promised a night of fireworks: John Adams' Short Ride in a Fast Machine, Wynton Marsalis' Violin Concerto (with Nicola Benedetti), and Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. The plan fizzled.
SALZBURG – While the Salzburg Festival included operas from the Baroque through the Romantic eras, concerts and recitals tapped into the past century or so but featured only half a dozen living composers. Diversity was nearly a non-issue.
SALZBURG – While provocative new productions of Martinů and Mozart failed their librettos, uplifting concerts were offered by the Vienna Philharmonic under Riccardo Muti and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra with Daniel Barenboim.
POMPEI – Annual tours by the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra, led by Riccardo Muti, aim to build cultural bridges between cities affected by war and to create bonds through music. Venues have ranged from Kyiv to Tokyo and Athens.
ZURICH – Dropping Franco Alfano's familiar ending, director Sebastian Baumgarten placed the opera in a beehive, which fit neatly into the social stratification of Imperial China. Queen bee Sondra Radvanovsky wore robes of yellow and black.
AMSTERDAM – A prodigious exhibit of Vermeer's paintings was still drawing crowds at 2 in the morning. On the music front, concerts at the Concertgebouw and Rusalka at Dutch National Opera had their moments, but also their issues.
BERGEN – An enduring past-present-future feeling marks Bergen's international festival, where city jewels such as the Philharmonic and Camerata Bergen are on display. This year, the Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen sang the title role in Tosca.
OSAKA – Thirty-three ensembles, 98 musicians, and nearly 50 hours of music packed into eight days: That was the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition and Festa 2023, reputedly the largest competition of its kind in the world.
MUNICH – The production at the Bayerische Staatsoper was so brilliantly conceived and integrated that it felt as if themes intrinsic to the opera had lain dormant for well over a century, awaiting the right genius to bring them forward.
VIENNA – The energetic cast and staging by the young director Nina Spijkers brushed the dust off Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor with a winning combination of slapstick humor and high musical standards in a new production at the Volksoper.
TORONTO – The Canadian Opera Company production, starring a suitably anguished Quinn Kelsey, unfolds not on a blasted heath but in a roofless church that is reconfigured to serve as banquet hall, witches cavern, and battlefield.
CANBERRA, Australia – The Brodsky Quartet, veterans of 50 years of music-making together, teamed up with didgeridoo virtuoso William Barton in his Square Circles Beneath the Red Desert Sand, on a bill with Bach and Schubert.
ATHENS – The title role in Cherubini's opera is synonymous with Maria Callas, who revived the neglected work in Florence in 1953. In the Greek National Opera's new tribute production, soprano Anna Pirozzi summons both pathos and stamina.
VIENNA – The Vienna State Opera has charted new territory with a Monteverdi trilogy capped by ll ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, a production more intent on contemporary flair than mining the work's musical and dramatic substance.
VIENNA – A new production of Le Nozze di Figaro at the Vienna State Opera was billed as a vehicle for young singers ideally suited to the roles, directed by the much sought-after Barrie Kosky. The result does not live up to either promise.
VIENNA – The staging at the Theater an der Wien catapults Handel's oratorio from pre-Christian times to a futuristic landscape in which water is scarce and reality television captures every move of the Babylonian king and his mother Nitrocris.