Welcome to the 2023 BBC Music Magazine Awards
This year’s nominated recordings for the Opera Award are listed below and you can vote for your favourite at the bottom of the article. Want to hear an excerpt of each recording before voting? Then click on the player...
The nominations for the Opera Award
The Dragon of Wantley
Mary Bevan, Catherine Carby et al; The Brook Street Band/John Andrews
This was the premiere recording of German composer John F Lampe’s 18th-century spoof of Italian opera. While it tickled George II and was a hit with audiences in the 1730s, the piece (loosely drawn from a Yorkshire folk ballad) is barely known today. It tickled our reviewer, too, who enjoyed the characterful performances by soloists Mary Bevan, Catherine Carby, Mark Wilde and John Savournin.
Pelléas et Mélisande
Julien Behr, Vannina Santoni et al; Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth
Harmonia Mundi HMM905352.54
Beneath the robust vocal performances, Les Siècles and François-Xavier Roth added a distinctly period flavour to Debussy’s opera, the use of gut strings and early-20th century wind instruments ‘conveying like few other recordings the work’s unique and poignant emotional charge’.
Jeanine Tesori & Tazewell Thompson
Kenneth Kellogg, Brianna Hunter et al; Washington National Opera/Roderick Cox
Pentatone PTC 5186 967
With moving performances by its lead trio of singers, not to mention a luminous Washington National Opera orchestra under Roderick Cox, Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson’s opera lingered in the memory. Premiered in 2019 before the murder of George Floyd in the US, its theme of police brutality against young Black men was hauntingly prescient, but not without warmth, tenderness and humour.