Opera house of the year is… them, again

Opera house of the year is… them, again


norman lebrecht

September 28, 2018

An Opernwelt survey of 50 music critics across Europe and the US has chosen Frankfurt as Opera House of the Year – for the fourth time.

No disrespect to the great financial centre, but Munich is presently producing the highest standards in history, Berlin’s Komische Oper is on fire, La Scala as bounced back from the doldrums and Canadian Opera warrants attention. Why Frankfurt is a bit of a mystery.

Something wrong with the collective judgement of Opernwelt’s critics?

Orchestra of the year is Munich’s, production of the year is Barry Kosky’s Meistersinger at Bayreuth (pictured) and conductor of the year is John Eliot Gardiner.


Change those critics.


  • John Rook says:

    It would be interesting to know the criteria. A while ago, Stuttgart walked off with the title every year. Munich was more than just a major player then, too. Odd.

    • Max Grimm says:

      The criteria are the whims and fancies of the 50 critics. The only real criteria is whether a nomination can garner a sufficient enough consensus to win (ie. Frankfurt this year won with 10 of 50 votes).
      This also accounts for the frequent objections coming from the opera-going public regarding some of the choices and it further accounts for the often rather vague reasoning as to why an opera company won; Frankfurt this year won because of “intelligently balanced programming, strong directorial scripts, excellent repertoire cultivation and a high degree of ensemble-culture”.
      Some other awards, just for general information:
      – Opera Orchestra of the Year is the Bayerisches Staatsorchester (for the 5th consecutive time)
      – Opera Choir of the Year is the Staatsopernchor Stuttgart
      – Opera Newcomer of the Year is the soprano Anna El-Khashem (member of the opera-studio of the Bayerische Staatsoper)
      – Opera Director of the Year is Peter Konwitschny

      • John Rook says:

        Good that the BSO is consistently n°1. As for Konwitschny, doesn’t he have a monopoly on this award? It certainly seems so.

        • John Rook says:

          Meant to mention the ensemble culture. Stuttgart was famous for it a few years ago; that mantle seems to have passed to Frankfurt. It’s important; there seem to be fewer and fewer major ensembles and FfM’s appears to be extraordinarily good. Good for them.

        • Sebastian Petit says:

          Konwitshny director of the year? Wtf?

  • RW2013 says:

    He who can, does. He who cannot, reviews.

  • Olassus says:

    … in the category “Most Annoying Opera Experience,” [opinions] ranged from the harassment of … Kirill Serebrennikov to the stage design of painter Georg Baselitz for Parsifal at Bavarian State Opera in Munich.

  • MSD says:

    Who made you the arbiter of world-wide, epoch-wide standards?

  • Hanna Nahan says:

    How many productions in Frankfurt did you attend this year, Norman?

    • Tristan says:

      Forget it all, it’s the most ridiculous survey that exists and as mentioned previously, 90% of the critics nowadays have no bloody idea – like most managers of opera companies
      La Scala under ageing Pereira has definitely not improved, wishful thinking
      The best house at the moment is Munich, no doubt!
      Berlin needs a facelift, Barenboim has been around for much too long, besides he and Rattle among the most overrated conductors.
      No wonder like those critics call Ffm the best house.
      It’s amusing but nothing else and no one should take it seriously.

      • RW2013 says:

        Much depends on why you go to the opera.
        My choice is repertoire, and while not defending DB and SR, the Staatsoper in Berlin is mounting Medea, Betrothal in a Monastery and Hippolyte et Aricie this season.
        It’s also been worth the trip to Frankfurt to see Vanessa and Owen Wingrave.

      • Bogda says:

        With all due respect to Munich, it’s hardly at the level of Paris. Most productions are provocative but nothing more, they really haven’t staged any important or relevant production in years. They have house stars (Kaufman and Harteros mainly) but hardly able to attract anyone else apart from their standard cast. The whole house hangs on Petrenko, without him it’s not quite that interesting. And that’s the problem.

  • william osborne says:

    Innovative productions and new works play a big role in their evaluations, hence the success of Frankfurt.

  • Beinisch says:

    Sebastian Veigele the chief conductor and musical director of Frankfurt opera house is a wonderful musician a conductor.
    I am not surprised.