Archive for the ‘top ten list’ Tag

jcm’s Top 10 Best LIVE Performances of ‘10

It’s that time again! I’m serving up my second annual Top 10 LIVE Performances of the year. It’s a follow-up to my ‘09 list. Sadly, there are no Broadway shows on this list. I plan on remedying that in 2011!

1. Die Walküre, San Francisco Opera (Details)

This production offered one of the finest casts that could possibly be assembled for this opera (and The Ring) in the current operatic landscape. The production said some new things, and offered a few fresh perspectives, but didn’t try too hard, or overshadow the score. Maestro Runnicles is a Wagnerian master, and he and the orchestra rose to the occasion again. Yeah, I was a “Supernumerary” in the production, but I was able to watch much of it from the orchestra during rehearsals, and even accounting for my bias, this would still takes my top spot. Enjoy my full review here.





































Mark Delavan (Wotan) & Nina Stemme (Brünnhilde); Photo by Cory Weaver

2. Scalpel! The Musical, Brava Theatre (Details)

Can you say fun? It had me at the opening number, with countless heals and drag runway walks. It was the first show I’ve seen in the Brava, and I immediately loved this venue…the warm lighting, the urban ambience, and the straight, raked seating offering direct views. Even with all the camp and hijinks, the entire cast was completely committed to the material. This was the second mounting of the show, and my fingers are crossed that it returns yet again. Apparently, there was a bit of a curse on the production, with multiple cast injuries (including a very unfortunate broken leg for leading man, Mike Finn), but they pushed through, with some quick and fortuitous replacements and prevailed. Picturing Sara Moore as “poop-raking” TV reporter Kitty Kelly (“Hardballs” host) still makes me laugh.







































Emily McGowan: Fritzy, Arturo Galster: Pepper Van Allen, Cindy Goldfield: Jacqueline Bulgari

3. Heidi Melton: Salon at the Rex, The Rex Hotel (Details)

To hear Heidi Melton plead in spoken french AND debut her chest voice was alone faint-worthy, and positively scintillating. And, to hear her in repertoire much outside her core operatic rep and comfort genres was a treat (ie: Irving Berlin and Kurt Weill cabaret, and Korngold songs). Her rendition of Berlin’s “Always” left not a dry eye in the audience. (Her Noe Valley Chamber Music Recital a few weeks before was also very beautiful). No thanks to the Adler “Future is Now” concert, which was on the same night, the recital was over all too soon (evidenced by a jcm quotation here and here)! I stuck around and imbibed and dined at the bar…I wanted to savor the spell Heidi had cast.



Continuing Reading jcm’s Top 10! —>


My “Desert Island” Skates

As a true “fanatic”, assembling my “Desert Island” Top Ten Lists of operas, recordings, movies, skating performances, and so on is part of my “religion”. These über-favorites spring easily from my memory, because they have resonated to me on such a deep level (although it is always a challenge to narrow the list to JUST ten).

My "Desert Island"!

This time up I’m focusing on favorite all-time skates, in which ALL the stars align… choreography, music, competitive triumph, expression, and in the case of these videos, the performance itself (thankfully captured for posterity). These transcend skating as “sport”, and express something on a heightened spirit and soul level. They make me really feel something. I’ve tried to include more than just the universal favorites (although a few of those are in here too). Rather than revealing a total bias towards classical/semi-classical and operatic repertoire, I honestly feel the finest skaters are most transported by this genre, and offer something extra when performing to it.:

10. A tie — a study in ice dance contrast, stunning flash vs. simple elegance:
Annisina/Peizerat: Time to Say Goodbye, EX, ’99 Worlds
Dubreuil/Lauzon: Somewhere in Time, FD, ’06 Worlds

9. The Protopopovs: Ave Maria, LP, ’84 World Pros
Amazingly, Lyudmila was 48, and Oleg 51.

8. Janet Lynn: Afternoon of a Faun, EX, ’83
This was her televised “swan song” performance. She sure went out in top form with this iconic program.

7. Michelle Kwan: Rachmaninoff, SP, ’02 Olympics
I was lucky enough to be there, although every performance of this program on youtube is near perfect. She clearly really felt in her groove with it. Her East of Eden, ’01 Nats SP was a close second.

6. Oksana Bauil: Swan Lake, SP, ’94 Olympics
Her Swan EX from the same Olympics is on equal par.

5. Sale/Pelletier: Tristan und Isolde, LP, ’01 Worlds
And, their Love Story is of course legendary, for it’s flirtatiousness and storytelling.

4. Chen Lu: Butterfly Lovers, LP, ’98 Olympics
The expression of her own culture through this music is transcendent. Her ’96 Worlds Rach. was perfection too.

3. Shen/Zhao: Turandot, LP, ’03 Worlds
They waited for this day for a long time. And, boy did they deserve it.

2. Denise Biellmann: Beau Soir (Debussy), LP, ’99 World Pros
One of her last competitions, at 37 years old. A testimony to her training and commitment to her sport.

1. Matt Savoie: The Mission, LP, ’06 Nats
I had waited two decades for someone to skate to this soundtrack. It was worth the wait. This is what I love about skating: intense focus, meaningful storytelling… and pure soaring!

Gordeeva/Grinkov’s Moonlight Sonata, Angela Nikodinov’s Sleeping Beauty, Lucinda Ruh’s mezmerizing, modern Prayer Cycle: Mercy (by Alanis Morissette), Kurt Brownings’ sexy, flamenco Naya, Klimova/Ponomarenko’s Bach, and anything by John Curry almost made the list, but something had to get cut, and some of these aren’t on youtube yet. Let’s hope the upcoming Worlds provide a new one for my list! And, if you demanded I select some non-classical favs, I’d note Kwan’s Fields of Gold, Cohen’s Don’t Rain on My Parade, Nikodinov’s To Love You More, and Underhill/Martini’s Unchained Melody. It’s interesting how MOST all of the duos I selected are actual couples. The added dimension of having an off-ice relationship/romance must offer skaters entry into something even deeper.

What skates would you take on your “desert island”? [Next up will surely be my “desert island” operatic divas/divos, and their recordings.]