The best classical performances of 2013 and the pick of 2014

The best classical performances of 2013 and the pick of 2014
Faber operas have featured prominently in the press’ round-up of the best classical performances of 2013, and equally in their look ahead to 2014.
The best of 2013
George Benjamin Written on Skin (Royal Opera House)
‘A 100-minute, interval-free symbolic drama set to post-tonal music might sound rebarbative, but this opera by George Benjamin – in Katie Mitchell’s stylish production – made a riveting evening. A medieval Provençal tale of jealousy and revenge, with a time-travel twist.’
George Benjamin Written on Skin (Royal Opera House)
‘Contemporary music enjoyed cult status, especially in the opera house: George Benjamin's Written on Skin had its UK premiere at the Royal Opera House’
George Benjamin Written on Skin (CD)*
‘An essential record of George Benjamin’s Written on Skin, one of the most (more pessimistically: one of the only) unforgettable operas of the last decade or two, a work that seems both old-fashioned and fresh. Timeless, more like it. With a virtuosic cast and its composer leading a committed orchestral reading, it takes its rightful place among the classics.’
* Several of us, myself (Anthony Tommasini) included, wanted to pick the recording of George Benjamin’s Written on Skin, the most remarkable new opera to come along in years, but the youngest of the Times critics, Zachary Woolfe, was the speediest about making choices, so that one fell to him.
The pick of 2014
Julian Anderson Thebans
ENO will offer a record number of premieres next season, but the most promising is a new opera from British composer Julian Anderson, with a libretto from the Irish playwright Frank McGuinness, and under the direction of Pierre Audi. The ancient story of Oedipus is the armature, but expect powerful contemporary echoes.
Benjamin Britten Paul Bunyan
Benjamin Britten’s first opera, to a libretto by W H Auden, is more Broadway than bel canto but it’s good clean fun and well worth this rare revival by English Touring Opera.
Thomas Adès Powder Her Face
Thomas Adès’s opera contains the world’s first (and only?) fellatio aria, but there’s more to it than that, as Joe Hill-Gibbins's site-specific production for English National Opera will demonstrate.