• NOT QUITE GRAND OPERA
The long overdue revival of Beethoven's Fidelio by Opera Boston should have been a grand opera triumph instead of the year's bitterest disappointment. But Boston Lyric Opera rang the bell with its charming mixture of the serious and the comic in Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, which it imported from the Welsh National Opera. A strong young cast and a smart director gave us a good show. In a lighter vein, Met diva Stephanie Blythe walked away with Opera Boston's delicious production of Jacques Offenbach's Lagrande duchesse de Gérolstein as the horny aristocrat who can't stay away from military maneuvers, or keep her hands off her soldiers. And I commend OperaHub for its economical (only a piano accompaniment) but imaginative bringing to light of a real rarity: Alexander Zemlinsky's Der Zwerg("The Dwarf").
• MUSICAL COMEDY
Two musical comedies from the polar extremes of musical comedy got memorable revivals. American Classics — a/k/a Ben (Sears) and Brad (Connor) — brought us Irving Berlin's satirical World War I revue Yip! Yip! Yaphank!, the show that gave us "Oh How I Hate To Get Up in the Morning," which Berlin himself sang in the original 1918 production, and "God Bless America," which Berlin cut from the original show. And the New England Conservatory gave us a powerful production of Stephen Sondheim's bitter version of Kaufman & Hart's Merrily We Roll Along, a show that rolls along by moving backward in time.
• PIANO FORTE
Two memorable piano recitals came from opposite ends of the age spectrum: 80-year-old Boston legend Russell Sherman's tribute to Schumann and, in the Celebrity Series, the Boston debut of Haochen Zhang, the 19-year-old Chinese pianist who was the youngest person ever to win the Van Cliburn Competition gold medal, playing Chopin, Brahms, and Ginastera, with a deeply touching Schumann encore, Träumerei. Not every moment worked in either concert, but what did did!
• ETERNAL OBOE
Oboist Peggy Pearson is almost always on my list in some capacity or other, though she now has serious competition from the BSO's principal oboist, John Ferrillo. Pearson is always an outstanding "voice" in Benjamin Zander's Boston Philharmonic and the Emmanuel Music orchestra, and in her own Winsor Music chamber concerts. Her rendition of Ralph Vaughan Williams's enchanting Oboe Concerto, in the Cantata Singers' season-long exploration of that noble Brit, revealed how much music there is in a piece I'd thought was relatively slight.
• ON THE WEB
Congratulations to Lee Eiseman and Bettina Norton for keeping a classical-music website, the Boston Musical Intelligencer, up and running. BMInt reviews more concerts than any other venue in town. And when WGBH bought WCRB, the website organized a town meeting at which some 400 angry listeners showed up to voice to a WGBH station manager their dismay over the removal of classical music from WGBH and the cancellation of the Friday-afternoon BSO broadcasts. It was a thoroughly commendable act of civic responsibility.