Okay, this post is a little late. But is it ever the wrong time to give thanks for the bounty of the local cultural scene? Of course not. But while I routinely look back over the theatrical year via my virtual "Hubbie" award, I haven't yet taken a similar glance in the rearview mirror for the other arts.
True, some terrible things happened this year - enough to make anyone less than grateful. Brandeis tried to take the bloom off the Rose. The ICA annointed Shepard Fairey. The Gardner destroyed a part of its legacy in cold blood, despite the long efforts of almost all right-minded people to stop it. The North Shore gave up the ghost. And The Donkey Show opened. These were all terrible things; crimes against the city, really - and maybe against humanity!
But there has been much to be thankful for on the cultural scene, too. I suppose it's always the best of times and the worst of times, as somebody famous once said (I forget who!); so whenever Shepard Fairey or Diane Paulus occurs to me when I ponder 2009, I promise to also remember:
The Boston Ballet - with Black and White and Jewels, the Ballet reached a new level of brilliance; indeed, for a while, all the serious artistic action in town seemed to be on the CitiCenter stage. (And if you missed Black and White, you have a chance to catch it this spring - the Ballet is reviving it.)
Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese at the MFA - probably the greatest local art exhibit of the last generation spent several months at the MFA. A long, rich shot of Old Master genius unlike anything ever seen in the Hub. I saw it several times, but God how I wish it was still there.
The Boston opera scene - between BLO's Don Giovanni, Boston Baroque's Amadigi di Gaula, H&H's Orfeo, and the Boston Early Music Festival's L'incoronazione di Poppea and Acis and Galatea, this was a great year for opera in the Hub, probably the strongest in recent memory. More, please.
The Handel and Haydn conductor roster - As Hub Review readers know, I am a huge fan of our oldest musical society - and one reason is the seeming endless list of intellectually challenging conductors they program. This year we heard from Paul Goodwin, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, Jean-Christophe Spinosi, and Jane Glover - all of whom brought a dynamic, questing intelligence to bear on the music at hand. There may be no other musical organization with this level of intellectual variety in town.
Okay, is that it? Possibly - although I'm sure I've missed someone or something!
Still, we've officially Given Thanks. Now back to our regularly scheduled program of snark and pseudo-intellectual analysis . . .