Friday 30 December 2011
Very well, Hans Sachs and Fairy Edna may have nothing else in common, but they do both help an outsider and a merchant's daughter in difficulties towards a wedding. And to be honest, the panto in Wimbledon spoke more often to my depths - or my shallows, though what's as profound as Homeric laughter? - than the Royal Opera's Meistersinger revival (the final scene of which is pictured above by Clive Barda). There were passing pleasures, all the same, in the second of the two comedies which rounded off a year rich in events.
I tried to unpluck the best from its varied tapestry in my Arts Desk 2011 choice, but even then I found I'd missed a few (how could I not have squeezed in Kazushi Ono's CBSO Mahler Resurrection Symphony?) I needn't repeat the results here except for the crème de la crème: in terms of Gesamtkunstwerk, it was a tough choice between Christopher Alden's production of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Sasha Regan's riotous but also very moving all male G&S Iolanthe, full of attractive strangers and responding well to Wilton's Music Hall magic (and there's another special event I left out - Alina Ibragimova's recital-happening at Wilton's in colloboration with the Brothers Quay. I think Sussie Ahlburg's photo was taken at the concert's first, Manchester venue, but never mind).
Thought I ought to do a quick coast back over the 2011 blog, too, for other signifiers. Nothing new about the most entertaining book I read all year, Simon Winder's Germania - others rail against its flippancy, but he makes no bones about it - or the most revelatory author, Halldor Laxness, though after Under the Glacier and Independent People, I'm getting stuck with the disconsolate whimsy of World Light. Nothing new either about all seven series of The West Wing, after which everything on telly comes across as flat and unprofitable (dipping into BBC drama, it always seems well acted but poorly scripted. And could you believe the direness of Ab Fab? I couldn't).
The places I fell in love with, either for the first time or again, are too numerous to mention, but I'll try - from Darwin's Down House, the treasures within Cologne's churches and the unpickled German small-town perfection of Göttingen to the wilds of Connemara and the Burren in Ireland, the monastery of Tioumliline, the medina of Meknes and the beautifully-sited Roman town of Volubilis (pictured above again, why not? )in Morocco and - of course, the highlight - the top of Iceland's Snæfellsjökull and its lavafields/slopes running down to a blue, blue sea. Of course the whole place would tell a different story in wind and rain, but that's not how we saw it.
Here's hoping that we do head back to Iceland's south coast in 2012. And may your year be as adventurous as you want it to be.