Don't forget to cast your vote before 31 January!
The annual huddle to draw up a shortlist for our Opera Poll was a surprisingly harmonious affair. It helped that everyone on the core Opera team at WhatsOnStage (Keith McDonnell, Simon Thomas and Mark Valencia) agrees that 2013 has been a good year for the lyric stage, so even when individual treasured preferences didn't get the nod we were still happy with the outcome. Our curry-fuelled discussion passed with neither sulk nor strop. Before you scroll down to the shortlist, though, here's a brief look at the ones that got away.
Best New Opera Production
There's been plenty of good work away from the main houses this year, with Paul Bunyan (British Youth Opera), Pelléas et Mélisande (a co-production by the Arcola Theatre and Bury Court Opera for the Grimeborn Festival) and I gioielli della Madonna (Opera Holland Park) all standing out from the crowd. As for the Royal Opera, it had a well-deserved hit with George Benjamin's new opera, Written on Skin. Of the five shortlisted productions two hail from English National Opera – high spots in what has otherwise been a difficult year for the company.
Outstanding Achievement in a Main Role
René Pape's powerful Gurnemanz in Parsifal nearly crept in under the wire, but not quite. Christine Goerke was squeezed out of a competitive field despite her commanding Elektra for the Royal Opera, as were Leigh Melrose (ENO) and Simon Keenlyside (Royal Opera), 2013's magnificent Wozzecks. Although the year's fine Aschenbachs John Graham-Hall (ENO) and Alan Oke (Opera North) came close, neither made the final cut for Death in Venice, nor indeed did Peter Savidge who was mesmerising in the multiple baritone roles for the Leeds-based company's production. Michael Spyres lost out despite memorable appearances as Rodrigo in the Royal Opera's La donna del lago (in place of an indisposed Colin Lee) and in the title role of Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust (LSO/Gergiev),
Yoshi Oida's Death in Venice for Opera North was a hot candidate in this category but it was up against prodigious competition. Likewise a fistful of Royal Opera revivals that included Birtwistle's The Minotaur, two gripping incarnations of Tosca, a memorably starry Don Carlo and a mightily-cast Simon Boccanegra. Few revivals from other sources inspired as much excitement – with the notable exception of the outstanding quintet that made it through to our shortlist.
Best Newcomer to the UK Operatic Scene
Two Verdi heroines impressed in their UK débuts. Corinne Winters was the outstanding player in Peter Konwitschny's controversial La traviata for ENO, while Lianna Haroutounian earned high praise when she replaced Anja Harteros after just one appearance as Elisabetta in the Royal Opera's Don Carlo. (Haroutounian's early return to Covent Garden – as Hélène in Les Vêpres siciliennes – was disappointing by comparison, although it later emerged that she had been battling illness.) Les Vêpres also marked the belated UK début of Stefan Herheim, a legendary director whose best work is still to be seen on these shores.
Outstanding Contribution to the UK Operatic Scene/Event of the Year
A couple of the events that made it through to the shortlist were self-selecting; others had to fight for their place. Honourable runners-up include the Arcola Theatre's enterprising (and cheekily-named) summer Grimeborn Opera Festival and the Royal Opera for celebrating Verdi's bicentenary with a generous quartet of his large-scale operas. The final five are a varied lot but all fully deserving of their place.
There. We've done our bit; now it's over to you.