2012 was indeed a miraculous year for mezzo soprano Sarah Connolly. She began the year reprising her acclaimed portrayal of Octavian in English National Opera’s production of Der Rosenkavalier (‘she is now peerless in the role’ – The Independent) before returning to the Paris Opera as Phèdre in Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie, a role she will sing in Glyndebourne’s new production of the opera this summer. Her operatic year was crowned by a magnificent return to Covent Garden, where she made her role debut as Fricka in Das Rheingold and Die Walküre. The critics were unanimous in their praise: ‘The evening’s best performance undoubtedly came from Sarah Connolly, whose impeccable Fricka must have had Wagner sighing contentedly in whatever corner of hell he has been assigned – “that’s how I meant my music to be sung”‘ (The Telegraph). In concert, highlights included the title role in a European tour of Ariodante with Complesso Barocco and Alan Curtis, Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Donald Runnicles, Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons, the same composer’s Coronation Ode at the First Night of the Proms with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Edward Gardner and Brangäne in a concert performance of Tristan und Isolde in Paris with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Mikko Franck.
The Heath Quartet triumphed in the Young Artist category, receiving the award for their many superlative achievements in 2012: a category which also featured up-and-coming baritone Duncan Rock. Highlights for the Heath Quartet included a series of recitals at Wigmore Hall
where, according to The Times
, their performance of Beethoven and Schubert was one of ‘unforced beauty and tremulous tension’. They also performed a new work commissioned from the Wigmore Hall’s Composer in Residence, Luke Bedford and later in the year worked with composers Brett Dean and Steven Mackey. They went on to make their debut at the DeSingel Arts Centre in Antwerp, Berlin Konzerthaus and Stadttheater in Grein and appearances at the Salisbury, Spitalfields and Peasmarsh Festivals. In addition to touring throughout the Netherlands, they also returned to Banff, appeared in Aldeburgh and worked with the Florestan Piano Trio, Takacs Quartet, Colin Currie, Michael Collins, Joanna MacGregor and bassoonist Bram van Sambeek. The year ended on a fantastic high when the Quartet won the 2012 Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Ensemble Prize. They accepted the award, with much wit and grace, from Mexico City where they were performing on the night of the Awards. Click here
to hear their acceptance speech.