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A unique talent in modern opera scene. Opera requires many more arts that just singling. She has a really extraordinary voice: "Dark gold on red velvet". She made amazing international career getting to the top in just seven years.
She was born September 18, 1971 in Krasnodar, Russia,
In 1995, the 24-year-old Netrebko made her American debut as Lyudmila in Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila at the San Francisco Opera. In 2002, 31-year-old she was already at the top of all opera lists. There are no similar meteoric rise to the top in recent history of opera. In 2003, Netrebko released her first studio album, Opera Arias, which became one of the best selling classical recordings of the year.
Records distort her powerful voice and do not transmit energy she irradiates in live performances. That is what performing is all about, having fun within the scope of the role and entertaining the audience. Most operas are boring because the singers are boring and stiff, yet Netrebko voice soars effortlessly despite her film-actress like mobility.
And she is not only vocally fabulous, she is a very good actress: young, athletic and very pretty(one critic called her "Audrey Hepburn with a voice"). It's really amazing that she can sing from any, even most strained positions perfectly well. Great ability to move on the scene. Such a queen of agility in opera. Also like Callas she is a workaholic with earn excellent health and tremendous stamina which permit very tight, may be too tight schedule. A charming charisma, huge energy and love for parties combines with iron work ethics. Even pregnancy did not course much disruption in her performances. She was singing in June 26 2008 in (just Vienna two months before giving birth to her son) and again in Jan 15 2009, four months after giving a birth.
See also Anna Netrebko - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft - Anna Netrebko and Anna Netrebko blog ( contains Anna Netrebko Performances database).
There are several films based on her performances
Anna Netrebko stars in more then a dozen of classic operas. Among them:
La Traviata also available as film
La Boheme also available as film
Lucia di Lammermoor
Romeo et Juliette
The Tsar's Bride
Bellini La sonnambula
Le Nozze di Figaro
I Capuleti e i Montecchi
The Snow Maiden
The Russian Album MP3 Downloads Anna Netrebko contains some Russian arias but her main repertoire is Italian and French operas.
She is probably the most impressive, the most contemporary Violetta that you can find on . Especially interesting are Mariinsky Theatre performances (2003 -- she was 32 then):
Fragments from 2003 Mariinsky theater performance:
Approximately 20 min fragment of the second act from this Mariinsky performance which duplicates some arias above is also available on :
Her energy and charisma are amazing and audience is instantly electrified. This is especially visible her performance of German arias, for example:
Several classic opera arias performances by Anna are also very moving, romantic. I would say the most beautiful among the performances of classical music you can find on Tube:
And her performance of Verdi Traviata Brindisi aria (probably one of the most widely recognizable classical-era opera melody ever :) displays her talent both as an actress and a singer. Tremendous charisma, energy, radiant joy of life: her performance really lifts spirits. One of viewers aptly commented:
"I just fell in love with Anna. The body language is pure cruelty. I sure most males can identify with the feelings. A brilliant performance.".
I generally don't like "modern" reinterpretation and would definitely prefer her Mariinsky theater Traviata performance to "Greek tragedy style" of Saltsburg performance but it is not available on (you can see almost complete film "La Traviata a Paris" 2000 featuring performance of Eteri Gvazava ). Anyway Netrebko and Villason skill, (both as actors and singers) by-and-large saved the situation, especially for viewers with a good understanding of libretto:
She has a website Anna Netrebko from on which among other things she also promotes her charity for orphaned children (see also Charity mit Anna Netrebko) and you can contribute to it from the website:
Anna Netrebko cares deeply about the wellbeing of the most vulnerable members of our society and has made it her mission to support a select group of organizations dedicated to children's causes.
SOS Kinderdorf International
Like any trailblazer, she inspires intense debate on . As with any talent there are low lifers who try to parasite of her popularity promoting themselves via insulting comments. That typical for all online forums but flourished on . Thanks God they are few and usually are pretty quickly shut by audience.
I would like to reproduce several comments
ad80ad (3 months ago) Show Hide
THIS is art. Funny, intelligent, self-ironic, provocative, refined but authentic. Great. Entertainment in the best sense. Humor is the ultimate manifestation of virtuosity.I shall quote Luisa Tetrazzini, soprano and stage partner to Caruso:
"Those who resort to insulting singers rather than kindly admonishing their faults are mostly students who believe that they are, in some way, better than their peers because they can hear things that others cannot. Usually, these people are merely close-minded, would-be singers."
Also, I agree with what you say about Villazon, but pointing out areas where he could improve would be much more productive than insults.
01 O Mio Babbino Caro 00:00
02 Quando Men Vo 02:42
03 Dome Epais le Jasmin (Flower Duet) 05:18
04 Deh Vieni Non Tardar 10:24
05 La Ci Darem la Mano 13:51
06 Ardon Gli Incensi (Mad Scene) 17:12
07 Casta Diva 22:15
08 Lied an den Mond 28:02
09 Libiamo ne Lieti Calici 33:03
10 Meine Lippen, die Kussen so Hei? 36:09
11 Ma Qual Mai... Fuggi Crudele 41:50
12 Si, Mi Chiamano Mimi 48:04
13 O Soave Fanciulla 53:24
14 Belle nuit, o Nuit D'amour 57:32
15 Solvejgs Lied 01:00:07
16 Addio del Passato 01:03:51
17 Eccomi... Oh! Quante Volte 01:09:34
Uploaded on Jul 8, 2011
Anna Netrebko interpretando "O Mio Babbino Caro" en el Kennedy Center
Anna Netrebko - O mio Babbino Caro - live - lyrics - (Feb 7, 2009)
Anna Netrebko - O mio babbino caro - (Apr 3, 2012)
She's as exciting as hell. The role is a treacherous one and the critics all praised her in spades. I saw the HD presentation at the theaters and found her to be riveting. Her singing has a searing intensity that makes one recall Maria Callas. I also heard the opening night broadcast and loved how she blew away the audience with her Sleepwalking Scene. This less than 2 minute segment shows nothing of the total effect she made in this role.Yige Li 1 year ago
Many haters simply do not understand "how THEY THINK Lady Macbeth should be sung" is never "how Lady Macbeth should be sung". Anya is the rare kind of imaginative artist who has always given a sight out of the box. Narrow minded people, sorry, you just don't deserve to have her.
Leopold Leopold 1 year ago
+Detectivefiction The wrong sex. "Un-sex me here" is sex as in gender, not having sex. Lady Macbeth thinks she needs a killer's instincts to succeed. Macduff thinks a woman is so delicate that he's afraid of telling her about Duncan's death, believing it would make her fall dead from shock. Lady Macbeth has contempt not for women, but for these qualities (of vulnerability) associated with women, no matter who they appear in, and likewise tells her husband only when when he was ready to perform a murder was he a man. The full context is "Un-sex me here and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty." That being said, the costuming is the least of this productions problems.
CarlaMusic 1 year ago
She's like the modern day Callas. To some she maybe singing the wrong rep, but she act her ass off and look good doing it. Time will tell if her career is cut in half by it.
TOTIC 1 year ago
I saw her at the Met tonight and she brought the house down. Amazing performance.
Lawrence Wraith 1 year ago
it's true she brought the house down on September 27...but some thing else happens
it was during her final scene that the audience wouldn't stop clapping and applauding and she just stood there on those damn high chairs like a statue in a trance for 40 seconds.. ....the audience becoming more and more excited....they would not let Lady Macbeth die...it was beautiful...
Jonas Kaufmann (born 10 July 1969) is a German operatic tenor. Although he has sung a variety of leading roles including both the Mozart and Wagner repertoire, he is particularly known for his performances in spinto roles such as Don José in Carmen, Cavaradossi in Tosca, Maurizio in Adriana Lecouvreur, and the title role in Don Carlos... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonas_Ka...
Lyrics & English Translation
Let's drink from the joyous chalice
Where beauty flowers ...
Let the fleeting hour
To pleasure's intoxication yield.
To love's sweet tremors -
To those eyes
That pierce the heart.
Let's drink to love - to wine
That warms our kisses.
Ah! Let's drink to love... to wine
That warms our kisses.
With you I would share
My days of happiness;
Everything is folly in this world
That does not give us pleasure.
Let us enjoy life,
For the pleasures of love are swift and fleeting
As a flower that lives and dies
And can be enjoyed no more.
Let's take our pleasure!
While its ardent,
Brilliant summons lures us on.
Let's take our pleasure
Of wine and
Singing and mirth
Till the new day
Dawns on us in paradise.
Placido Domingo, Rolando Villazon and Anna Netrebko from the auditorium Waldbühne outside Berlin (Germany). Concert for World Cup from 07 of July 2006. Opera Orchestra of Berlin conducted by Marco ...
Iolante--Anna Netrebko; Graf Vaudemont--Peter Bezhala; Dirigent--Valery Gergiev. Premiere am 18.07.09
"Regnava nel silenzio" von Gaetano Donizetti. Aufnahme vom Echo Klassik 2005 in der Philharmonie am Gasteig in München.
The peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez sings with the russian soprano Anna Netrebko, the famous duet from Bellini's "I Puritani": "Vieni, vieni fra queste braccia".
03 Mar 2009 | Telegraph
There is a puzzle at the heart of Anna Netrebko. Away from the stage she is all giggles and gurning, flirtation and mischief. But almost every time she goes on stage the Russian soprano packs away this beguiling bag of tricks to play, with gut-wrenching conviction, women who are, in her choice phrase, "dying before the wedding or right after".
"I would love to sing more comic funny operas," she says. "I did Don Pasquale and I was in a happy mood playing that. But unfortunately there's not many. Last year I sang 11 Roméo et Juliettes at the Met. And after that I sang I Capuleti e i Montecchi. So lots of killing myself with a knife."
Netrebko returns to the Royal Opera House next month as Bellini's Giulietta after a life-changing event. In her last but one visit to Covent Garden she sang Donna Anna to the Don Giovanni of the Uruguayan bass-baritone Erwin Schrott. When she came back as Violetta she was expecting his child. She gave birth to a boy in September and resumed singing a month ago with Lucias in St Petersburg and New York.
"I didn't sing at all for almost half a year and I was not missing it at all," she says. "But it was very fast for me to come back. Unfortunately my first performances were coming together with a very bad cold. I could not cancel because I thought people will say, 'Oh she's just scared!' Or 'It's a disaster after the baby, she's lost the voice.' I came to the theatre with a feeling that I might not finish the performance. Because Lucia is a no-kidding role. But somehow you just take all the forces from your body to make it." Talk of cancellation may unnerve Netrebko's British devotees. A year ago, after glorious reviews, she went missing from La traviata with bronchitis.
"You know, it happens only here! I get sick very rarely. Believe me, cancelling is much more painful for singers than for the audience. You know there are people who have paid and they want to see you struggle. I only cancel if it's going to be a disaster. Normal sickness is nothing: even when I can't speak, I go and sing and people will not notice. But if I have a fever and coughing…"
She has returned to work determined, she claims, to shed six or seven postpartum kilograms. The deeper impact of motherhood remains to be seen. "I guess I'm beginning to be more sensitive to certain things," she says. She pulls a mature face. "But I'm always forgetting how old I am. I never remember that at this age I have to be serious." That age is technically 37, but in her head she is forever 28 "because it's not 30 yet and not 21. I was very silly then. But hard-working." The winning mixture of frivolity and industry first emerged with her vocal gift when she sat an English oral at school in Krasnodar in southern Russia.
"I was very bad because I never did homework. Disaster. But I came for an exam and I said, 'Why should I recite all this long text in English about Lenin in Paris? Let me sing'. And I started to sing in English, of course with the wrong words but just what I heard in the tapes.
"So from there I jumped to the top class." And what did she sing? "People," she croons, launching into the well-worn Streisand number.
The rest – training at the Kirov, cleaning in the theatre to make ends meet until she was fast-tracked by conductor Valery Gergiev – is a well-known story. Did she ever dream her intoxicating blend of voice and looks would find her singing for statesmen, and selling out a forthcoming concert in Copenhagen in 14 minutes?
"In Russia we say, 'Bad is the soldier who doesn't dream of being a general.' So of course I was dreaming of being successful. But I just thought it would be great if I could be good enough to go back to Krasnodar and sing in operetta." That early fondness for the lighter repertoire is on display in Souvenirs, her latest CD, which mixes Strauss, Rimsky-Korsakov, Offenbach and Lloyd Webber. She hoped to sing Pie Jesu at last year's Classical Brits but Sarah Brightman had bagged it.
"Actually it's good because that piece is very tricky. It's very high and it's pianissimo and if you're nervous it's so scary. So I sang something from Traviata. Easier." She still gets nervous. For a live high-definition broadcast of Roméo et Juliette from Paris last year she says she "was so nervous I opened my mouth and a big crack came out. But sometimes I just go on stage like entering another room. You cannot tell. It's luck." Luck, and trust in her costume designers, an area in which she is famously forthright.
"It's me who is singing on stage, not them. I saw one premiere and the main soprano was nice-looking but they made her look horrible. And I thought, I just want to kill that lady who made these costumes. Then the costume designer came on stage to take a bow in an elegant black dress. You know? For herself she didn't create that crap."
For all Netrebko's jollity, only a steel core can have got her this far. "I know so many wonderful singers who just couldn't make it," she says. "You have to have a special way of thinking, a special attitude. You can burn yourself too fast because you have this desire to have everything." And where does that come from? "From God. Or from there." She points to the floor. What, her whole career is based on a Faustian pact?
"No I didn't make any deal," she says before a perfect comic pause. "Faustian deal doesn't finish in a good way."
'Libiamo ne' lieti calici', scene from La Traviata, by Giuseppe Verdi. Giuseppe Verdi, La Traviata Anna Netrebko, Violetta - soprano Jonas Kaufmann, Alfredo - tenor Chorus and Orchestra of the Roy...
'Parigi o cara', duet from La Traviata, by Giuseppe Verdi. Giuseppe Verdi, La Traviata Anna Netrebko, Violetta - soprano Jonas Kaufmann, Alfredo - tenor Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera Hou...
Amazing, really. True entertainment, so much fun and enjoyment for Anna and Rolando as well as the viewer.huhas1
Thank you for understanding..Many people don't It is wonderful, completely free and so much entertaining.
December 28, 2008 | NY Post
On her new CD, "Souvenirs," Anna Netrebko sings in 10 languages, including Yiddish and Czech. But the feisty soprano prefers to read in one - her native tongue, Russian - and just one genre.
"These days, I am only reading detective novels by Boris Akunin," she tell The Post's Barbara Hoffman. "You can get them here, in English!"
Netrebko now has homes in Vienna and New York. But growing up in the south of Russia in the 1980s, reading became an escape.
"Life wasn't so exciting," she concedes. "The struggle was just about to start and everything was so gray. I had a lot of friends, and we had parties, but I think I missed something, something beautiful and colorful."
Here are the books that colored her world.
War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy
"My favorite Tolstoy book. I've loved this book since I was 15. At 15 it's hard, because it's very complicated language, but it was amazing for me to read about the life of people in the 19th century, and the portrait of life is so clear."
Gone With the Wind
by Margaret Mitchell
"I learned a lot from this book. I loved [Scarlett O'Hara], who was always strong. I wanted to be like this - whatever happens to me, I want to be strong. It was one of the books that helped me develop my character.
by Fyodor Dostoevsky
"I think it has everything. It's very psychological, it's deep, it's emotional."
The Three Musketeers
by Alexandre Dumas
It was the book of my teen years - everyone read it and we watched the movie. I think every time we had a holiday party, we were dressing up as Musketeers!
October 23, 2008 | anna-netrebko.blogspot.com
The Metropolitan Opera website has already launched the Met Player. Monthly and year subscriptions, as well as are opera rental services, are available. A 7-day free trial is also available but it will automatically roll into a monthly subscription unless cancelled before end of trial period. The catalog has several HD video recordings, including Roméo et Juliette on 15. December 2007 with Anna Netrebko and Roberto Alagna and I Puritani on 6. January 2007 with Anna Netrebko. The catalog has also audio recordings, including Don Pasquale on 15. April 2006 with Anna Netrebko, Juan Diego Flórez, Mariusz Kwiecien and Simone Alaimo, Rigoletto on 17. December 2005 with Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón and Don Giovanni on 15. February 2003 with Anna Netrebko as Zerlina.
A HD video clip of Act II of I Puritani with Anna Netrebko can be watched for free.
Anna Netrebko, who is expecting her first child in September, has withdrawn from her scheduled late December/early January Met performances as Mimě in Puccini's La Bohčme.
The star Russian soprano has decided that she will need a few more weeks than originally planned to be ready for her return to the stage.
Maija Kovalevska, who is already slated to sing the role of the consumptive heroine throughout most of December, will replace Ms. Netrebko for the later performances. Ramón Vargas and Massimo Giordani share the role of her poet-lover, with Mariusz Kwiecien as Marcello.
As previously announced, Netrebko will return in time to sing the title role in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor at the Met, beginning January 26, 2009 and continuing on January 29, February 3 and February 7 matinee.
The February 7 performance will be transmitted live into movie theaters worldwide as part of The Met: Live in HD series, as well as being broadcast live over the Toll Brothers Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network and on the Met's Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 78.
Presentation of DVD La Traviata
Netrebko & Villazon Interesting interview by Villason
Anna Netrebko, opera's poster girl - Times Online Jan 13, 2008
Opera, that gorgeous folly, has outlived the rarefied culture that once sustained it. It can't offer the high-voltage stars and sexy mass appeal that today's entertainment scene demands. Or so say its detractors. Then along comes Russian soprano Anna Netrebko-knockout good looks, bewitching charm and a mesmerizing hold on the media, which tirelessly chronicle her penchant for partying and haute couture.
Behind the celebrity persona, Netrebko, 35, is the real deal, nurtured at Russia's Kirov Opera and now in demand from Salzburg to Tokyo. From her delicate frame comes a voice of astonishing richness and power. She's also a riveting actress; just watch her ignite the stage as the doomed Violetta in La Traviata. Netrebko's blend of vocal splendor and dramatic intensity has evoked comparisons with Maria Callas. Flattering, Netrebko says, but she wants to get to the point where she's celebrated for being herself. She's already there.
After taking a break from opera to give birth to Tiago, her son with bass Erwin Schrott, Anna Netrebko has returned to the Metropolitan Opera stage in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor. The first time I heard Lucia I thought, Oh, my God, how can anybody sing that? No way! But later I tried it, and immediately, from the first phrase, it felt so good, Anna said.
February 7, 2009
During the Lucia di Lammermoor at the met on February 7, 2009 Intermission #1 Natalie Dessay interviews Anna Netrebko and Piotr Beczala Natalie Dessay interviews Marco Armiliato Intermission #2...
METROPOLITAN OPERA RADIO BROADCAST: Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor (LIVE FROM THE MET) Cast Conductor: Marco Armiliato Lucia: Anna Netrebko Edgardo: Piotr Beczala Enrico: Mariusz Kwiecien Raimondo...
Feb 2, 2009
Anna Netrebko, the Russian opera superstar, and one of the world's most acclaimed sopranos, will make her long-awaited return to the stage tomorrow after maternity leave, starring in a Scottish Opera production.
Netrebko will sing the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor when it opens at the Mariinsky Theatre - formerly the Kirov - in St Petersburg.
The production, which won glowing reviews when it was premiered almost two years ago, is the first by Scottish Opera to be presented on a Russian stage, and the news has given the company an enormous boost.
Alex Reedjik, its general director, said he was enormously proud that the company had been chosen as the means for Netrebko to make her return to the stage. "We are truly delighted," he said. "She is one of the world's leading sopranos, who has created many important roles around the world.
"It is a terrific opportunity not only for Scottish Opera, but it is also a way of showing to the wider world what is going on in Scotland. We like to think of it as an export made entirely in Scotland."
The opera is based on the novel by Sir Walter Scott, The Bride of Lammermoor; it is set in Scotland and the Scottish Opera production was directed by a Scot, John Doyle. Doyle's production is being staged by the Mariinsky Opera Company using its own cast and musicians, but will use Scottish Opera's sets, props and costumes. Daffyd Burne Jones, Scottish Opera's staff producer, accompanied the equipment when it was shipped to St Petersburg last month to help to recreate the production as originally directed by Doyle.
The opera, by Gaetono Donizetti, was premiered on September 26, 1835, in Naples. It is set in the early 18th century and tells the story of Lucy Ashton, a thwarted bride who succumbs to madness and death. The book is based on a real-life romantic tragedy from 1669 when a bride-to-be from the Dalrymple family seriously injured her bridegroom after her parents would not allow her to marry the man of her choice. She then descended into insanity and died. In the opera, Lucia Ashton, the heroine, is also married off against her wishes to a suitor of her family's choice, but kills her bridegroom, before dying. Upon hearing of her death, Edgardo, the man she truly loved, stabs himself to death, hoping to be reunited with Lucia in heaven.
John Doyle's revived production, the first for 26 years, was a huge success, selling out performances and winning critical acclaim.
It is thought that Valery Gergiev, the renowned conductor and leader of the Mariinsky Opera Company, heard about the Scottish Opera production of Lucia while he was at the Edinburgh International Festival last year. He had been seeking a version of the Gothic tragedy for Netrebko after she said that she wanted to play Lucia in Russia. Netrebko has already performed the role in Los Angeles.
Netrebko, 37, took time off from her career to have her first child last September. Lucia will be her first role since giving birth to her son Tiago Arua.
Mr Reedjik said that Scottish Opera was approached about the collaboration last October. Once it had agreed to the offer, the company had less than two months to restore the Lucia set before shipping it to St Petersburg in time for rehearsals this month.
"Normally we've got a year or two to get organised, but we had to move quickly to find all the bits of the set and give them a quick lick of paint," he added.
Mr Reedjik is flying to St Petersburg today to attend the premiere. He hopes to explore opportunities to develop further cultural partnerships. The Scottish government has awarded the company a small grant to capitalise on the link.
"These things take time, but all the runes are pointing in the right direction," Mr Reedjik said.
Linda Fabiani, the Scottish Culture Minister, said that the performance was a great honour for Scotland.
"It is a mark of the tremendous talent being nurtured in Scotland that the world-renowned Mariinsky Opera is presenting a Scottish Opera production in St Petersburg," she said.
"The Scottish government has provided funding from our International Touring Fund which will allow Scottish Opera to make the most of the opportunities presented, at the same time promoting Scotland to an international audience.
"The Year of Homecoming is a particularly suitable time for Scottish Opera to be showcasing Scotland's contemporary culture to Russian audiences," the minister added.
Hepburn with a voice
Anna Netrebko, 36, is one of the world's most acclaimed sopranos. Her bewitching dark looks and talent prompted Charles Michener, the New York Observer critic, to label her "Audrey Hepburn with a voice"
Signature roles include Mimě in La Bohčme; Giulietta in I Capuleti e i Montecchi; Norina Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor; and Violetta in La Traviata
She has starred in concerts and recitals all over the world. Her outdoor concert with Plácido Domingo and Rolando Villazón at Waldbühne in Berlin on the eve of the 2006 World Cup Final was watched by millions globally
Netrebko's recordings have won her a string of awards, including two classical BRITS for best female artist and singer of the year, and a prestigious German Bambi award
In 2005 she received the Russian State Prize, the country's highest arts and literature award
December 2, 2007 | New York Times
Anna Netrebko is a gifted opera singer who at 36 has already mastered many of the roles - Mimi, Violetta, Lucia, Manon - that used to go to the queenly, temperamental sopranos of the old school, with their furs, their atomizers, their entourages. She is also a media-savvy entertainer from the new school, with the knockout looks, the fans, the celebrity of a pop star. Her "Traviata" at Salzburg two years ago was such a hot ticket that scalpers were reportedly charging $7,000 a seat, and her records regularly top the charts in Europe. In the summer of 2006 she was part of a concert in Berlin that filled a stadium.
Netrebko, whose appearance at the Metropolitan Opera on Dec. 15 in Gounod's "Roméo et Juliette" will be broadcast live in movie theaters around the world, has a captivating voice that is both high and deep, lustrous and velvety, and she is one of that growing breed of opera singers who can actually act. She is sometimes compared with Natalie Dessay, the French singer whose face has been on posters all over New York this fall, advertising her mad scene in the Met's "Lucia di Lammermoor," and who may in fact be technically superior. But Netrebko is the larger presence. She has an earthiness and impishness - a daredeviltry - that may prevent her from ever attaining the kind of rarefied, disembodied sainthood that has been awarded, for example, to the American sopranos Renée Fleming and Dawn Upshaw but that also makes her more fun to watch.
Some critics have called Netrebko the next Callas, which is both a high compliment and a bit of a stretch. Callas was more intense, more forceful and also more tortured. On the other hand, Callas never appeared on a music video. Netrebko has a whole DVD of them, "Anna Netrebko - The Woman, the Voice," which when it first came out in Europe in 2004 outsold Beyoncé and Britney Spears. In one, Netrebko, wearing a white bathing suit, her hair marcelled, sings Dvorák's "Song to the Moon" while floating in a swimming pool on an inflatable raft.
When she was younger, Netrebko was often compared with Audrey Hepburn. She has since filled out a little and now more nearly resembles one of those sultry Italian movie stars of the '50s and '60s-Anna Magnani, say, or Sophia Loren. The paparazzi love her, so much so that she doesn't dare make a restaurant reservation in her own name. (One that she likes, for some reason, is Beaverhausen.) In this country she has been featured in Vogue and Elle and on "60 Minutes." In Europe, where cultural news frequently makes the front page, she is the subject of two unauthorized, not entirely reliable biographies and is written about all the time - seldom factually - in the tabloids and gossip columns. It is not true, for example, that she had an affair with Robbie Williams and bore his love child. On the other hand, the reports that she loves to party and to shop and can swear like a trooper in five or six languages are probably not inaccurate.
Netrebko is more of a homebody than she is sometimes given credit for. She spent her 36th birthday, in September, in her apartment in New York cooking dinner for her publicist and his girlfriend. But she is also a serious clotheshorse. In August, when I had lunch with her in Vienna, where she also has an apartment, she turned up wearing purple pumps (which matched her eye shadow), a bright orange duster and the shortest miniskirt I've seen anywhere except on Carnaby Street in 1969. The face of her wristwatch was encrusted with what must have been diamonds, because you'd be embarrassed to have rhinestones that big.
"I'm so fat," she said as she sat down. She explained that she had just come back from a few days' rest in Italy. "My crazy friends," she said, "They don't think about nothing but food, food, food." (Netrebko, who is a very quick study when it comes to languages, used to speak English with a noticeable Russian accent, but it's almost gone now, her Russianness apparent only in certain vowels and infrequent lapses into Russian syntax.) She didn't look the least bit fat to me, however, or apparently to anyone else. When we went out window-shopping afterward, she turned heads. While we were walking around she explained that she had recently started to work out, not to strengthen her abdominal muscles, which in a singer need to be supple, but to build up her back, which she uses to pump out her sound. She paused, threw back her shoulders and made an Arnold Schwarzenegger flexing motion, pumping her arms in front of her.
Netrebko's videos and outdoor concert appearances, her contract with Chopard, the luxury jewelry company, and her commercials for Vöslauer, the Austrian mineral water, have made her a member of what the critic Alex Ross calls the Yo-Yo Club - classical musicians who, like the cellist Yo-Yo Ma, have attained such celebrity that their artistic credentials are deemed suspect by the purists. If you're that popular, the logic seems to go, you can't possibly be any good. Netrebko used to be a frequent target of some of the cattier opera blogs, where she is known as Trebs or Trebbie. "That pretty, ruthless girl from some Russian province," one blogger called her last winter. Others complain about her trills, her coloratura, her poor Italian diction, which is "like some thick, gooey kvass," according to another blogger.
But there are just as many knowledgeable fans who can't get enough of her voice, which some critics think is still getting better, and to see her perform is to forgive almost anything. She has the stage presence, the charisma, that the old-fashioned divas used to command, and she adds to it both charm and sensuality. She seems pulsingly alive in a way that the grand, marmoreal singers sometimes did not. In that much-anticipated Salzburg "Traviata" (which is available on DVD), for example, she's consumptive in the way that Verdi surely intended: not just sick but burning herself up. When she appears onstage in a form-fitting red cocktail dress, twirling around and flashing a lot of leg, she instantly explains away one of the creaky plot problems in this famous old opera: how Alfredo, who has never seen Violetta before, can fall for her in a second. She sings the opera's signature piece, the Act I-ending aria "Sempre libera," an anthem to pleasure and self-indulgence, with abandon and defiance, soaring effortlessly up to the high notes. In Act III, which can sometimes be a drag (Violetta takes forever to die, and at one point seems miraculously to bounce back), she is heartbreaking, with the natural richness of her voice adding a deeply felt layer of sadness and regret. She doesn't die in Alfredo's arms, as in most productions, but by herself in the middle of the stage, and that, too, seems exactly right.
Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, says that Netrebko is "the complete artistic package," and she is one of the cornerstones of his plan to rejuvenate the Met - to make opera more popular and accessible - by insisting that the productions be more dramatic. "The Met is famous for being the house of great voices," he explained recently. "My intention is to gain a new audience by raising our theatrical standards while at the same time holding on to our musical and artistic ones. Anna is the perfect embodiment of the new Met. She has a beautiful voice and a kind of stage presence that is very rare. Audiences just embrace her." He added: "Her being great-looking doesn't hurt. Great-looking is good. But I want to resist this notion that looks are all I'm looking for in a singer. Looks alone won't cut it on the stage of the Met, which is so big that there's no place for you to hide out there. Your talent is bare and exposed. Luckily, there's a whole generation of singers, of whom Anna is one, who understand that opera is theater and can integrate singing and acting."
Even before taking over at the Met, Gelb said, he knew who Netrebko was and had heard her several times. But she made a particularly strong impression on him in the spring of 2005, after he was appointed the next general manager but before he actually assumed the job, when he happened to see her and the Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón in a Viennese production of "L'Elisir d'Amore." This particular production (also available on DVD) happens to be a 25-year-old wheezer, but as Gelb recalled, Netrebko and Villazón "just elevated their roles" and got a huge ovation at the end. After seeing her, Gelb immediately took steps, as he said, to "make sure Anna was going to be squarely in the center of the Met's plans." Netrebko, who made her Met debut in 2002, as Natasha in Prokofiev's "War and Peace," was already scheduled for further appearances there, but Gelb wanted to enlarge her role. One difficulty of running an opera house, he explained, is that plans often have to be made years in advance, and over the years the Met became slower and more inflexible than some other opera houses, like London's Royal Opera House, for example. In the case of Netrebko, he has tried to command a chunk of her schedule, and the Met's plans for her now extend into the 2012-13 season and even beyond, with a goal of showcasing her in at least two productions a year, one old and one new.
In the years to come, Gelb is particularly looking forward to seeing Netrebko in a new production of "La Bohčme." Netrebko, for her part, is looking forward to the 2012 production of "Manon." This is an opera she loves (with reason, her detractors say: it's about a materialistic airhead), and she delighted in a production that Vincent Paterson created for her in Los Angeles. It was set in Paris in the 1950s and showed Manon evolving from a Leslie Caron character to one modeled on Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe . In one scene she even did a pole dance. "This production was so good," she said, "because it understands that 'Manon' is not a deep story. She's not a deep character. So it has to be funny, silly, charming, erotical - not dark. She's not evil. She's like, I screw up my life, but, well, too bad!"
For the 2007-8 season, Netrebko was scheduled to appear at the Met in 11 performances of the same opera, Gounod's "Roméo et Juliette," five of them last month and in September, six more starting this month, including the live broadcast. Her Roméo for all was supposed to be Villazón, one of her favorite partners, with whom she has recorded an album of duets that came out here this fall. The two singers have a singular rapport, and some of their past performances of "Roméo," as well as of "Traviata" and "Manon," have been so steamy as to convince the paparazzi that they must be lovers in real life. (In fact, Villazón is married, with children, and Netrebko was until recently involved with the Italian bass-baritone Simone Alberghini.) In September, however, Villazón, who like Netrebko (and sometimes with her, to promote the new record) was carrying on a breakneck schedule of concert appearances, announced that on medical advice he was canceling everything, leaving the Met to hastily cobble together a revolving-door list of replacements.
Roberto Alagna, who filled in for the opening performance in September, had to learn the staging of the production in a matter of days, and standing in her dressing room during a run-through at the Met one afternoon, Netrebko said that the rehearsals were "very stressful." She had a bottle of fruit juice in one hand and a double latte in the other. "For my sex scene," she explained. "I need energy."
The sex scene in this particular production requires Roméo and Juliette to cavort in a bed suspended 12 feet above the stage. When the curtain came up, Netrebko, wearing a thin, low-cut nightgown, and Alagna, barelegged, in a nightshirt, slid around, trying to sing and caress each other simultaneously. The conductor, Plácido Domingo, interrupted them several times to work on tempo and phrasing and, at one point, to break the mood, Netrebko picked up the front of Roméo's shirt and began flapping it, exposing his underpants. (For the opener, a few days later, he wisely kept his trousers on.)
Domingo, who began casting Netrebko in productions of his Washington National Opera soon after seeing her in 2002, said recently that "she is one of the great singers of her generation - or of any generation." And he added: "I love to conduct her. She brings sometimes the right amount of humor into situations where maybe there is tension. But she is the right kind of diva - very professional, very hard-working, and brings the right attitude to rehearsals. And a great artist, able to create great feeling. For the poison aria in 'Roméo,' she kept refining, emphasizing just a quarter note to enlarge the pathos of the moment. This is what the great singers do all the time."
"Look, I am normal," Netrebko told me last summer. "Normal, normal, normal!" And she is, though at the animated, high-energy end of normality. She laughs easily and gestures broadly, waving her arms, rolling her eyes, sticking out her tongue. When a man suddenly materialized at our restaurant table bearing not one but five copies of her "Figaro" CD, which needed to be autographed on the spot, she sweetly complied and went out of her way to chat with him a bit. When I was trying to discuss her
Carnegie Hallconcert this past May with the Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and compliment the fine points of her performance of the Letter Scene from "Eugene Onegin,"she found it necessary to explain that I didn't know what I was talking about. She did so gently, however, and added, "You are very nice."
Netrebko's friend and mentor, Renata Scotto, herself a diva in the '50s, '60s and '70s, says that an important clue to Netrebko's nature is her Russianness. "She's very humble, very truthful," she remarked of Netrebko. "And I think a lot of Russians are like this. She's full of the joy of life and also a very hard worker."
Netrebko concedes that there may be something to this, but also says that another Russian trait, which she clearly does not share, is melancholy, passivity and being unable to decide what you want from life. A phrase she uses a lot is "I try" or "I will try," and you get the sense that she is very much the stage manager of her own story.
The younger of two sisters, Netrebko grew up in the southwestern Russian city of Krasnodar, along the Kuban River, north of the Black Sea. "It's kind of a boring city, with not much culture," she says now, and is notable chiefly for the richness of the surrounding agricultural land: "If you plant something there, in five minutes it will grow." Her mother, who died five years ago, was a telecommunications engineer. Her father is a geologist. "He is still famous in Krasnodar," Netrebko told me. "I am very proud."
The family, she went on, was "let's say not rich, but well-to-do: we always ate well and had nice clothes to wear." The Netrebkos lived in a big house by Russian standards, with a grape arbor in back. Yuri Netrebko liked to make wine, and on weekends he would often give outdoor parties for 30 or 40 guests at a time. "It was a very happy family, and it was a wonderful childhood," his daughter says. "Always there were friends and relatives around."
Netrebko's parents both loved music, but their taste didn't extend much beyond operetta. They seldom listened to classical music, and for that matter, neither does Netrebko except when she's rehearsing or performing. (She likes Green Day and the Black Eyed Peas, and this summer, she said, she listened to a lot of Amy Winehouse.) Netrebko started piano lessons when she was 6 but eventually grew bored and dropped them. At 7, she joined a children's chorus, where she became a soloist, and in high school she was part of a traveling ensemble of singers, dancers and musicians.
Netrebko was not much of a student, and at 16 she moved to St. Petersburg with the idea of becoming an actress, until she discovered that lots of other young women had the same dream. "The competition was so great," she said, "and I heard very bad rumors about how you had to sleep with the directors. So I decided to try to be an opera singer. People said I had a voice."
She studied for two years at a musical college and then applied to the conservatory in St. Petersburg: "I said to myself: 'O.K. I will try. Maybe they will take me, and if not the worst that can happen is I will go home and be in the operetta. That will be more than enough.' " The conservatory took her, but initially at least, some of her colleagues were not encouraging, telling her that her voice was so small that the best she could hope for was a place in the chorus. "But I thought maybe I'm better than they think," Netrebko recalled. "I found something in my voice. It's very clean and very recognizable. It wasn't big, but it was always very pointed - it came to a whole. That's why I continued to think I might be a singer."
At the time, to make some pocket money and for the chance to watch rehearsals, Netrebko was also washing floors at the Mariinsky Theater, St. Petersburg's famous opera and ballet house, and this has given rise to a myth that is the Russian version of "La Cenerentola," the Cinderella opera, with Valéry Gergiev, general and artistic director of the Mariinsky, swooping in and rescuing her from the mop and bucket. In fact, by the time she auditioned for Gergiev she had already retired from scrubbing and had even won the Glinka, perhaps Russia's most famous vocal competition. But Gergiev was an early and steadfast supporter. In 1994 he cast her as Barbarina in a Kirov Opera production of "Le Nozze di Figaro," and then the director bumped her up to Susanna, the starring role. A year later Gergiev took an even bigger chance - an "insane risk," he later called it - by casting Netrebko, only 23, as Lyudmila in a San Francisco Opera production of Glinka's "Ruslan and Lyudmila." It was her U.S. debut.
"Gergiev, he's crazy, crazy!" Netrebko told me. "There are so many young singers he's given opportunities to - big roles at a young age, which never happens in America. They have what they call the young artists' programs, but what they're really doing is putting singers in their graves. They're sitting there in the big theaters wasting their best years, studying, covering, looking at the big stars. It's so wrong. You can never learn to sing if you are just watching."
The role that put Netrebko on the map and made her an international star was a 2002 Salzburg production of
"Don Giovanni,"conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who took the unusual step of casting her as Donna Anna, the Commendatore's daughter, who is forcibly seduced by the Don, setting the whole plot in motion. This is a part that, as Netrebko says, usually goes to "a big fat lady-angry, loud!" The role used to be a standby of Joan Sutherlandand also of Birgit Nilsson (sometimes known, impolitely, as Beergut). Netrebko played Donna Anna as a sexy young woman in a slip, who kisses the Don in such a way as to make you wonder if she was forced into anything at all. By all accounts her version of "Crudele? Ah no, mio bene!" Anna's signature aria, in which she apologizes to her betrothed for not marrying him just yet, was ravishing because she invested it with such longing and sensuousness.
Last year she appeared in an even more controversial Harnoncourt production, "Le Nozze" this time, directed (by Claus Guth) in such a way that it more nearly resembled a play by Ibsen or Strindberg than a comic opera. Just about everyone here is neurotic and oversexed, including Susanna (Netrebko), who has clearly been receptive to the Count's advances even before the curtain comes up and is also turned on by Cherubino. To play the part Netrebko has to give up a lot of Susanna's traditional charm, and yet she makes the character appealing, and even sympathetic, through the richness of her singing. Netrebko found this role hard, she told me, because Susanna has so few high notes and also because the character was so complicated. "This Susanna is a lost person," she said. "Very lost. She doesn't know what to do, and it's sad."
At the Met, where Netrebko has also starred in "Rigoletto" and "La Bohčme," Gelb says he feels she really came into her own two seasons ago, as Norina in "Don Pasquale." But it was her role as Elvira in Bellini's "I Puritani" that was a sort of watershed. Some people loved it; others began to question whether she was really suited to this kind of bel canto role.
"I Puritani" is seldom put on, and for good reason. Except for a scene in which the heroine goes mad for about half an hour, not a whole lot happens. Mad scenes are practically obligatory in bel canto opera, and they're hard to pull off, because, typically, the more distraught the heroine becomes, the more high, tricky passages she has to sing. It used to be that sopranos would just stand there and sing the notes, without much attention to the madwoman aspect, but that hasn't washed for years now, and it certainly won't at Peter Gelb's Met. Netrebko, who says that at first she was dismayed by the part, because she found the character a bore, eventually threw herself into it, but during some of the coloratura passage work she wound up snatching breaths in places that some listeners found sloppy and inappropriate.
"I thought her 'Puritani' was a real drag," Peter G. Davis, a longtime critic on the New York classical music scene, said. "I don't think she has the vocal technique for that kind of singing. It depends on what your expectations are, I guess, and in her case I have a lot. She has a lovely sound, a beautiful voice - so much talent, so much to offer, that I sometimes feel shortchanged. In 'Puritani,' the technique was really spotty, as if she didn't have a sense of how the phrases should be shaped."
But Netrebko says she felt very comfortable in the part, and she defends her technique. "The cantilena is also bel canto," she said, referring to the smoother passages, "and this I think I do well. We're losing the school of bel canto, because so many singers are doing it light, without the full body. Real legato is very important." She paused and smiled. "If you ask me about vocal technique, I don't know anything. I could never be a teacher. I just know what my teacher told me: Always sing with a full voice. When they tell you, less sound, more piano - no." She added: "I know what I'm missing. I know what I have to work on. Coloratura. And I sing sharp sometimes," meaning she sometimes hits a note on the high, screechy side. "It happens when I'm nervous. I get like this" - she tensed her stomach muscles and clenched her fists - "and the breath comes out forced and gives me the high intonation. I'm fighting it. I'm also looking for more color in the voice, but it only comes with experience. Singing experience and also life experience. I definitely know that I gained a lot in the last two years, during which I had a lot of storms in my personal life. After that I found something in my singing which was never there before. Interesting. This is the part that is coming from your soul."
Netrebko's performances in "Roméo" this fall appear to have won over even the cattiest of the bloggers. The worst they could say was that her French pronunciation was inexact. She was ravishing and heartbreaking, playing Juliette not as a besotted teenager but as a sensual young woman with a depth of feeling beyond her years.
In August, Netrebko caused a minor ruckus when at the last minute she canceled an appearance at the
Salzburg Festival, where she was supposed to sing Pergolesi's "Stabat Mater."The Austrians took offense, pointing out that she seemed in fine voice when a few days earlier she gave a concert in Baden-Baden. "I was sick," she said. "I can sing when I'm sick if I have to, but the question is how long can you continue to do that? At Covent Garden last June I had such a fever that I couldn't continue after the first act, and since then I've decided I have to be more careful."
Peter Gelb told me: "The Salzburg thing was a little unfair. Anna has been unusually reliable and dependable. She's so healthy, in fact, that it has probably been taken for granted." But he went on to say that for singers of Netrebko's caliber, burnout is always a concern, because so many demands are put upon them. "Managers of opera houses all worry about this," he said. "Smart singers worry about it as well. If you're going to have a long career, you have to take care of yourself."
Even the multitasking Valéry Gergiev, of all people (besides running the Kirov Opera and Ballet, he is a guest conductor all over the world), has worried that Netrebko may be spreading herself too thin, especially by singing so many open-air concerts.
The concerts make money, however, and they also give a singer a different kind of exposure. "I hate them," Netrebko said of her concert engagements, "because they're so difficult." But then she recalled with what seemed like genuine enthusiasm a concert she had just sung in Cologne. "I sang before 16,000 people, and most of these were people who never go to the opera. Many of them can't afford it. So I am giving them something." She sang with a microphone, she explained, but occasionally would step away from it so the audience could hear her true, unamplified voice. "They loved it!" she said.
Just as dangerous as singing too much is singing the wrong roles, and some critics have complained that Netrebko has learned too many parts too quickly and should be sticking to lighter roles. She insists, however, that it is important for her to strike a balance between light and heavy roles, and she also says she believes in taking on parts that are a little more demanding than she's comfortable with. "Donna Anna, Traviata - people say, No, no, don't do it, it's too early," she said. "But I think, No, I'd like to try, and now look, if I let them, they'd have me sing 'Traviata' all the time, and it would destroy my voice in three years!"
She added: "I have an intuition, and usually my intuition is right. I have a feeling for whether a role will be good or bad for me, and I almost never make a mistake. There were just a few that weren't good. 'Rigoletto' - the first act is hell and the whole time I was shaking. Zerlina - horrible! But Mimi I knew would be good. I have to work extra to make the right sound in the low register. The high register is no problem, except you can't make this sound all the time or your high notes begin to suffer." She talked about someday wanting to sing Elettra in Mozart's "Idomeneo" and Desdemona in Verdi's "Othello," and then suddenly said: "The role I really want to sing is Elisabetta from 'Don Carlo.' I really love this music, and I think that in five years I will be able to do it. I will try. If not, not. But I have a feeling it will be a good role."
Every now and then, Netrebko worries about her biological timetable as well as her artistic one. "I do have a private life," she told me, "and right now it's very difficult." As for marriage and a family, she said: "I don't know. I'm not ready. Life is so crazy. There are just a few years left, and I have to think whether I want it or not. Probably I want it." She paused, then said: "But it will change my life a lot. I really don't want to sink with a family and close myself to life. Right now I'm not missing a family. I'm not missing it at all. I'm just a different person. If you don't have all that when you're 25, then at 35 it's very difficult. But we'll see. Maybe in one year I'll be married and I'll get bored of singing." She laughed. "I can't believe it!"
Charles McGrath, a former editor of the Book Review, is a writer at large for The New York Times.
Correction: December 2, 2007
An article on Page 32 of The Times Magazine today, about the Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, misstates the date of a concert she performed at
. It was in May 2007, not June. Carnegie Hall
Correction: December 16, 2007
An article on Dec. 2 about the Russian soprano
misidentified an opera in which she is scheduled to perform in 2012. It is Anna Netrebko by Massenet, not "Manon," by Puccini. "Manon Lescaut,"
By Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY
Gets their engines revving: The sex appeal and rich baritone of American opera star Nathan Gunn, 36, make for a smooth ride. By Kasskara/DG, Deutsche Grammophon Beauty and talent: Russian-born soprano Anna Netrebko, 36.
By Elysa Gardner, USA TODAY
Anna Netrebko and Nathan Gunn are both hugely successful singers with the kind of camera-melting good looks that many pop idols would kill for. But you're not likely to see them on MTV.
That's because Gunn and Netrebko, both 36, are opera stars, who happen to get as much attention for their pulchritude as they do for their vocal prowess.
Mind you, neither has exactly discouraged the ogling. Netrebko, a Russian-born soprano, poses for sultry photo spreads in glossy magazines and has a well-documented fondness for designer fashions, particularly those that flaunt her voluptuous frame. American baritone Gunn has shown even more skin on stage, where he is frequently asked to appear bare-chested and is happy to oblige, "if it's the right show."
Who can blame him? Younger classical musicians have been marketed with an emphasis on their sex appeal for years - think mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli or violinist Joshua Bell - though few have so captivated the media with their natural assets.
"I'm fine with it," Netrebko says simply. "It's nice, thank you very much." And it doesn't hurt in promoting her various projects, from appearances at the world's leading opera houses to albums. Her new disc, Duets, pairs the diva with Mexican tenor Rolando Villazon, no slouch himself in the glamour department. The two have teamed for a Romeo et Juliette that opens Tuesday at the Metropolitan Opera, in which Gunn plays Mercutio.
Netrebko describes Duets, which includes selections by Puccini, Verdi, Donizetti, Massenet and Gounod, as the culmination of "something very special" that sparked when she and Villazon first sang together. "There was a chemistry between us, and in the way our voices matched."
Gunn collaborates with theater star Kristin Chenoweth and piano prodigy Eldar on his recently released Just Before Sunrise. In lieu of classical pieces, the collection features material by popular tunesmiths.
Gunn prefers not to describe Sunrise as a crossover effort, because that term "suggests to me somebody performing something they shouldn't." He realizes that opera fans "might say, 'Well, this isn't real music.' But I'm convinced that if I had done the CD in German, they would have no idea that I was singing Billy Joel or Sting. It's just great music."
Amy Winehouse and Justin Timberlake are high on Netrebko's playlist, but for her, pop music "is to listen to, not to sing." She and Gunn differ in other respects, too: She's single and "loves to meet new people all the time. It's one of the best things about my profession." He's a married father of five and gets home to Champaign, Ill., as often as his schedule allows.
And though both are fitness buffs, Netrebko says that "to stay in shape is more and more difficult as I get older." For Gunn, a lifelong martial-arts enthusiast, keeping fit is not only a compulsion but also a passion. His hobbies range from motorcycles ("I tend to go really fast") to, "on the more Zen side," golf.
"I like to develop a character in every way, and I've always been athletic, so I suppose that leaks into what I do on stage," Gunn says. Still, he attributes directors' eagerness to have him rip off his shirt at least partly to plot nuances. "It happens a lot when I do Billy Budd, because there's a bathing scene," he says.
If Gunn and Netrebko can credit relative youth for at least some of their physical allure, they don't seem concerned about maturing beyond their prime. "For an opera singer, usually the best years are after your 30s," Netrebko says. "Plus, it's important to have life experience in your singing."
A friend of Gunn's wife remarks upon "all these references to 'Nathan Gunn, the sexy baritone,' " he says. "She said, 'He's not sexy, he's just (a) dad.' "
August 12, 2007 | Times Online
Hailed as "the greatest living soprano" by BBC Music Magazine, Netrebko, 35, has been singing professionally since 1994, when she made her debut at the Kirov Opera. She lives in New York, Vienna and St Petersburg
I'm an early bird. I get up at 9 or 10. That's if I am not working. If I have a big performance the night before, I get up at 11. The morning is the happiest time for me. It brings new hope. Some mornings you wake up and life is miserable, but mostly I try to bounce out of bed. I am a happy person. I am fast, I am energetic, and I want to eat already. That's the problem. Even if I am just finished I'm already thinking: what is there for lunch?
Breakfast I am eating a hot sandwich, like with the cheese, toasted. Or toast with peanut butter and jam. I cannot eat yoghurt. I hate this healthy stuff. Then I have a good coffee, the best is Lavazza breakfast blend that I make myself. I am trying to be careful with my weight, so the English fry-up - love it, can't have it.
After that, I shower and do my own hair and make-up. I have to look presentable, even in places nobody knows me. The Russian women are trying sometimes too much: the high heels, the handbag, even the jeans - everything has to be perfect. I am messy; to be perfect is not my style. My clothes must be comfortable, and nice for breathing: opera singers are bigger here [the torso]. I have a fantastic wardrobe. These shoes are by Louis Vuitton, and the dress is by Escada, who are dressing me for events and giving me many clothes for free. I never have this feeling like before: "Oh, I don't have anything to wear." Now I think I do have!
If I have rehearsals, I am running because I will be late, probably. If I have a performance, the whole day is free. I go to see a movie, or to the museums. I am reading books, and magazines like Hello! and Style Watch, about the stars. I met some stars on the TV shows, like Shakira and Cameron Diaz, who was very, very nice. I met Robbie Williams. He was flirting, then in the papers it was all about how he steals Russian soprano, but it was rubbish. I have lots of girl friends but I'm definitely straight. I'm still big friends with Simone [Alberghini, the leading bass-baritone and her ex-boyfriend]. There was another boyfriend for over two years, and afterwards it was very painful. Lots of mornings I thought: "I don't want to wake up." Now I have a new relationship - he's a wonderful, wonderful man and I am in love.
In St Petersburg I am living with a girl friend, Katya. Now she has a little baby, who lives with us too. This apartment and the ones in Vienna and New York I decorated myself. The one in New York is like Alice in Wonderland. Each wall is different: one has black-and-white stripes, one mosaics. The furniture is crazy. But I will not leave my country - I love the Russian people.
Lunch you must have, especially on a performance day. I've always loved food. I like Japanese and Thai. Vegetarian? Forget it! Lunch is usually pasta or fish. No garlic. I'm in close contact with my singing partners; it's important to have a good breath. Some of the opera singers are Koreans, and Korean food, it has lots of garlic, it stinks for two weeks. Those guys - their breaths will blow you away.
I have no rituals before the show. I love being on the stage. If you have a headache, or feel depressed when you go on, you forget about everything. When I go on stage I feel a kind of sexual energy. The music is sometimes very erotical and to sing this you are using your whole body and it is… fantastic. The acting is important. The time when you could "park and bark" - come on stage and just stand there and sing - is passed. I know how to deal with my arms; this I learnt from the ballet dancers. And I was an acrobat for six years from the age of five. I don't have one favourite role, but I do love Donna Anna [in Don Giovanni]. Some roles - like Traviata, Manon, Lucia - have everything, all the singing and acting.
I try not to perform the big roles often, because they're very demanding. Though my voice has doubled in the past few years. It started suddenly to be bigger, because I was using the microphone between my tits!
On stage you are for the audience; it's wonderful to give to people. When I come off, I am hearing this applause, they are giving back what you gave to them. Usually you have beautiful flowers - sometimes so many I cannot carry them. At the stage door are lots of fans and you have to be nice to all of them. I am not a vicious diva. I might be nervous or unhappy about my performance and then I just want to slink out. But I can't be like that. The worst thing is I have to go to these huge dinners, with the patrons who are paying money for opera. You have to put on the dress, make yourself beautiful again. After, I am escaping with friends for dinner.
I want to be some place dark and cosy. You cannot drink before a show but after, yes. I like champagne and good wine, maybe a cocktail like cosmopolitan. You don't want to leave, because you are getting exciting, drinking, and getting more exciting. Operatic performance is so energetic - there is no way I could just come home and go to sleep.
I sleep naked. When it is cold I am wearing the flannel pyjamas. I am a quick sleeper. If I'm excited or worried I cannot sleep. But not usually. I have fantastic dreams. Very colourful - I am definitely crazy, but it comes out in a creative way, so I chose the right profession.
I dream of a different life, so when I am waking I am thinking: where I am?
Interview: Beverley D'Silva.
Her appetite for bling has upset classical music purists, but British audiences can't get enough of her. Jessica Duchen meets Anna Netrebko, opera's latest hot property
Monday, 6 November 2006It's the morning after the night before and the diamonds are still trapped around Anna Netrebko's throat. The clasp won't budge on the exquisite necklace, provided by her sponsorship deal with Chopard, which she'd worn for her knockout concert at the Barbican 16 hours earlier.
Netrebko's own sparkle, though, could illuminate the room unaided by bling. She's currently the hottest young soprano on the planet. She has everything: a glorious voice - high-set, lyrical, extremely expressive; terrific acting - the more dramatic, the better; and the sweet yet sultry looks of Audreys Tautou and Hepburn, glamorous and vulnerable at the same time.
Aged 35, and with a girlish, giggly sense of fun that makes her seem even younger, Netrebko is hurtling towards intergalactic stardom at a pace seldom seen in the classical music world. At the Barbican concert, shared with her frequent duet partner, the equally starry Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón, the audience went bananas. "I love the Barbican," Netrebko says, grinning, "and I love the audience. One aria, and 'hurraaahh'!" She lets out a gale of delighted laughter. Backstage afterwards, she and Villazón had gleefully defaced each other's photos while they autographed CDs for a crowd of astonished fans.
It all began in the Russian town of Krasnodar, when the small Anna decided that she simply had to become a performer. "It didn't matter what, but I had to be on the stage. First I wanted to be an actress, but somehow, later, I fell in love with opera. I started to go to performances and it captured me." Her family weren't professional musicians, but there was always music at home. "We used to go to concerts and the theatre, and I was constantly doing house concerts with my friends. Whenever my parents had a party, we'd announce, 'And now, a concert,' and they'd all go, 'Oh, not again!'"
She studied at the conservatory in St Petersburg, mopping floors at the Mariinsky Theatre to make ends meet and to be able to watch the rehearsals. "I'm so sick of this story," she cries. But it's hardly surprising that it's been told and retold: it's the stuff of fairy tales. When Netrebko auditioned for the Mariinsky's artistic and general director, Valery Gergiev, he recognised her as the cleaner and exclaimed: "You can sing?"
Talent will out: Gergiev spotted Netrebko's, and after she'd scored an early success as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro he gave her the title role in Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila when the Mariinsky toured to San Francisco. "It was my first year in the Mariinsky," Netrebko says, "it was a big, big role and it was a big success. So that was where my international career started."
Gergiev, whom she describes as "my godfather in music", is still a central figure in her performing life. "He has been so supportive and he always believes in me," she says. Has the working relationship changed now that she's found fame? "Yes, it has become much stronger. We're very good friends and we have some exciting plans. We're going to record Tchaikovsky's Iolanta on DVD, a wonderful new production, because this opera is not well known but is extremely beautiful, and Rolando will sing the tenor lead, Vaudémont."
Their audience can't get enough of Netrebko and Villazón, opera's newest and goldenest on-stage couple. "It started with La Traviata in Munich - one rehearsal, one performance," Netrebko recounts. "It was immediately obvious that we're very good together. We're having lots of fun performing on the stage and I think we help each other to perform better. He's a very, very strong partner and I have to work hard to be on the same level with him. I'm learning so much from him; he opens many things in me. It's great. We're working a lot together next year - recording La Bohčme, performing Massenet's Manon in Berlin and there's a duet CD being released in March and it's wonderful. I only hope people won't get tired of us."
Netrebko's latest album, though, is a solo CD: Russian arias with the orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre conducted by Gergiev, setting celebrated moments such as Tatiana's Letter Scene from Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin alongside little-known gems by Rimsky-Korsakov, Glinka and Rachmaninov.
One favourite is Natasha's aria from Prokofiev's War and Peace. "I've performed this often on stage and I think it comes through that I already have that experience, which is not the case with Tatiana," Netrebko comments. Wouldn't she be an ideal Tatiana? "I'd like to sing the role, but not yet. It sits rather low for my voice, and the orchestration is quite heavy, so I don't feel ready for it."
Her favourite roles are the most dramatic. "The roles that don't have a strong character are not usually my best," she admits. "I really need to find something powerful inside the character. I'm trying to choose roles in which I can show everything that I can do." Next year she'll be at Covent Garden, singing Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni. "Last June, in Japan, I came back to this role," she enthuses, "and I understood again how much I love it and how easy it is for me." Easy? One of Mozart's most complex women? "Easy success," Netrebko twinkles. "She has two arias, the most gorgeous music. Everybody else is working all evening, but Donna Anna just comes in and sings 'Non mi dir' and the audience goes 'Hurraaaahh!'" And has she a dream role? "All my dreams have come true," she says. "Now I have to find some new ones."
Earlier this year, though, Netrebko decided to cancel her Carnegie Hall recital debut. "I almost never cancel," she insists. "In five years I have cancelled maybe five performances. And Carnegie Hall was one of them. Because we plan things two or three years in advance, and nobody knows what will happen with you in two years. Suddenly I understood that I'm very busy with my operatic career, and actually I don't want right now to perform with piano. I prefer to sing in the opera. I felt I was not prepared enough to give a recital at Carnegie Hall. So I cancelled." A courageous decision? "Yes, but simple and honest." The concert, she adds, is only postponed: "I'll be back."
What about the trappings of fame, the photo sessions, the sponsorship deal with Chopard, and for concert gowns with Escada, which recently emblazoned her image across Harrods' window alongside the likes of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Christina Aguilera? Do people make too much of this? "It can never be too much," says Netrebko, beaming. "I think it's great. These fantastic gowns and the jewellery really help me to 'spark' on stage. I think we have to look good, to give pleasure for the ears and sometimes maybe for the eyes, too. And why not? I will try to continue to look good, because I think that a woman should always look like a woman, no matter what it is she is doing."
So, for Netrebko, diamonds are forever. Yet there are still cynical elements in the classical scene who feel that all this emphasis on appearance is a distraction from music. Netrebko just smiles. "Let them be quiet," she declares. "Because I will sing better and better, and they will have to digest this." And this time, she's not joking.
Anna Netrebko will sing Donna Anna in Mozart's 'Don Giovanni' at the Royal Opera House, London WC1 (020-7304 4000) from 11 June 2007. 'The Russian Album' is out now on Deutsche Grammophon
(CBS) There isn't a musical instrument on earth that can produce sounds as varied, as beautiful, and as heart-rending as the voice of a woman.
That's why we worship our great sopranos, and call them divas. But many of the greatest musical divas are larger than life. And seeing them on stage can be jarring, particularly when, in operas such as "La Boheme" or "La Traviata," they're playing fragile, young beauties dying of consumption.
Correspondent Bob Simon reports on a new prima donna, a young, rising opera star with a Cinderella story.
Her name is Anna Netrebko, and she's from Russia.
Her recordings are selling very well -- unusually well for classical music. But more than that, Netrebko is doing something never done before: opera music videos.
Call it "MTV meets the Met," or "Opera Lite." But the videos are knocking some stuffiness out of the opera world. In Europe, her DVD soared to No. 1 on the charts ahead of Britney Spears and Beyonce.
Netrebko is a marketer's dream, and her record company is daring to hope that she might just bring young people to opera. When is the last time you saw a soprano who sings at the Metropolitan Opera, and graces the pages of glossy magazines?
And it's not just the singing. It's not just the looks. Music critics on both sides of the Atlantic are describing Netrebko as a perfect product of her times -- a unique package of acting, attitude, presence, voice, and of course, glamour.
Is it more important for her to be adored for her voice or her looks?
"When I just started my career, of course, I always try to look very good, and I changes the dress all the time on the performance. And people came to me and said, 'Oh, beautiful dress. Your dress is so beautiful, and you look so beautiful.' That's it. And I was so upset nobody saying anything about my singing," recalls Netrebko.
"But now, it's thank God, they start to speak a little bit about my voice and about my singing and this makes me happy."
There are rules to good singing, and they may be the only rules Netrebko respects. She not only ignores the protocols of the opera world, on the road, she ignores the seat belt laws of California.
Netrebko insists she will never cross over to popular music. But she loves it, and listens to the music of pop stars such as Justin Timberlake.
Another passionate love, as Simon noticed one morning in San Francisco, is shopping – and not just for gowns for opening night. It's no wonder Netrebko's always maxed out on her credit cards. She told Simon that she paid $1,200 for a pair of jeans with holes in the knees. "This is the style," she says.
The streets of San Francisco are long way from the small town of Krasnadar, in the South of the old Soviet Union where Netrebko grew up as a patriotic "Young Pioneer."
"It was lots of fun with this red tie, and I was very proud because I was one of the best, and I was one of the first from my class who was a pioneer," says Netrebko, who enjoyed performing in the communist pageants.
What kind of roles did you dream of performing?
"Princess, of course. All the girls wanted to be princesses, beautifully dressed of course, and with the tiara," says Netrebko.
She left home when she was 16 for the closest thing Russia had for a city fit for a princess – St. Petersburg. But did she ever expect that she'd end up at New York's Metropolitan Opera?
"No, not me, and nor the people who was around me," says Netrebko. "I heard so many times that I don't have voice and the best for me is the chorus or something."
But that didn't stop her from enrolling at the conservatory and taking a job at the city's famous Mariinksy Theatre – washing the floors. That was her day job, and it gave her a chance at night to soak up the music.
"I was surprised why such an attractive girl decided to do such a job," recalls maestro Valery Gergiev, the musical director of the Mariinksy Theatre.
He says he was even more surprised to see the cleaning lady turn up at one of his auditions – but he noticed her immediately. "After her first minute of audition, it was clear, of course, I immediately offered her to become a young member of our ensemble," says Gergiev. "A Cinderella story."
Gergiev turned his Cinderella into a princess. And Netrebko began touring the world with his company, singing mostly Russian repertoire. But two years ago, her big break came at the prestigious festival in Salzburg – the town where Mozart was born.
"I was scared. I was nervous, and I have no idea what I am doing here," recalls Netrebko, who claims that she sings better when she's nervous. "Adrenaline, the stress, everything."
But Netrebko says that there's good stress and bad stress. Good stress is what she feels before a performance. Not so good are the receptions, the chat shows, and the CD signings. Everyone wants a piece of Anna Netrebko. And the pressure is unrelenting.
When her mother died two years ago, on the other side of the world, Netrebko didn't cancel her engagements. She kept on singing. Was it difficult to continue performing? "No," says Netrebko.
"Aside from having a beautiful voice and a beautiful face, you've gotta be tough," says Simon. "It's a tough game, isn't it?"
"Of course. If you're not tough, you are out. And you have to have a very strong character, very strong," says Netrebko, who admits she's had to take care of herself. "Nobody else will take care of you."
And sopranos are notorious for taking care of themselves. They're always wrapped in scarves. Air conditioning is anathema. And most of them flee smoky rooms. But for Netrebko, where there's smoke, there's fire. And she loves fire.
In fact, if Netrebko had her way, she'd be partying every night.
"I'm living with the people, and the people are smoking, and the people live in air condition, so I just can't say, 'OK, I'm an opera singer. I have to stay with my own, whatever area around,'" says Netrebko.
Her specialty may be arias, but she has no airs. When you run into her in St. Petersburg, you'd never know that she is now up there, in the galaxy of the stars. There are no limos, and no paparazzi. And she always goes back to the Mariinksy Theatre, sees her old friends, and does a turn on stage.
"It's funny when we think about you starting washing floors in the Mariinksy Theatre, obviously it's a Cinderella story," says Simon. "So do you worry that at the stroke of midnight, you're going to find yourself one day washing floors again, and your jet plane will turn into a pumpkin?"
"Oh, it might happen. Absolutely. Not washing the floor but maybe I will change my profession," says Netrebko. "If I would really get tired from this, and if I will start to sing worst, I will just change it, but I will not disappear. I will do something else important. You will see me somewhere."
Anywhere would be just fine.
(12-15) 04:00 PST Los Angeles -- There's much more to the title role of Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor" than the famous mad scene. But when a singer invests that showpiece with as much emotional specificity and musical splendor as Anna Netrebko did here Wednesday night, it does get your attention.
Lucia's extended breakdown -- a harrowing burst of sweet-toned, delusional coloratura that lays bare her brother's cruelty in compelling her to marry against her will -- was the crowning glory of Netrebko's first attempt at this defining role. For sheer theatrical and vocal potency, it was a triumph.
San Francisco audiences hardly need to be sold on Netrebko's brilliance, of course. Ever since her 1995 U.S. debut in Glinka's "Ruslan and Lyudmila" at the War Memorial Opera House, the Russian soprano has shone repeatedly in Russian and Italian repertoire (she'll return in June to sing Musetta in Puccini's "La Bohčme").
But to sing Lucia is to stake a claim to full-fledged diva status, and Netrebko gave every indication that it's a role she's well equipped to fill.
Just from a technical standpoint, the mad scene was a magnificent display. Netrebko's coloratura was note-perfect, each melodic phrase and glittering roulade precise and full-bodied. Her dynamic range was remarkable, from a piercing fortissimo to the merest whisper, and she exploited it all for dramatic effect. At one unforgettable juncture, she opened her mouth wide but let only the smallest sound escape -- a virtuoso gesture of deep-rooted horror.
For that matter, the entire scene spoke eloquently of Lucia's anguish. As ravishing as Netrebko's singing sounded, that was never the point of the performance. Instead, the listener was gripped with pity and astonishment at the character's disintegration.
Netrebko built masterfully toward that climactic episode. Her first aria, "Regnava nel silenzio," boasted a beautifully sustained legato line, with a dark, smoky tone color that complemented her pinpoint control, and the cabaletta, "Quando rapito in estasi," was deftly ornamented.
Netrebko's presence brought luster to a performance that was otherwise largely workaday. She got little help from the pit, where the venerable conductor Julius Rudel led a sluggish, sometimes soporific performance.
The director was the film actress Marthe Keller, who has increasingly made opera direction a sideline in recent years. Her contributions seem to have been restricted to four or five variations on "stand here and sing," apart from one scene in which she directed the chorus to make like flamenco mimes. A quartet of wolfhounds put in a gratuitous appearance in the opening scene, leaving the audience to sit and wonder whether they would eventually do what onstage animals are meant to do (they didn't).
Things were better on the vocal front. As Lucia's beloved Edgardo, Spanish tenor José Bros displayed a strong, slightly husky sound and a fluid, arresting legato; his final lament over Lucia's bier was hugely affecting.
Baritone Franco Vassallo was a smooth-toned but dramatically stiff Enrico, and bass Vitalij Kowaljow gave a gravely, uncertain performance as Raimondo. As Arturo, Lucia's ill-fated bridegroom, Kresimir Spicer deployed a big, somewhat woolly but intriguing tenor. The chorus was first-rate.
But in the end, this was Netrebko's show, and the tumultuous ovation that greeted her at the end was evidence of that. With this "Lucia," she has added one more jewel to the glorious strands of her still burgeoning career.
February 3, 1998 | SFGate
Russian soprano's recital shows dazzling talent
Tuesday, The extraordinary young Russian soprano has already given San Francisco Opera audiences two memorable performances: her 1995 U.S. operatic debut in Glinka's ``Ruslan and Lyudmila'' and an ebullient Susanna in last month's performances of Mozart's ``Marriage of Figaro.''
Then on Sunday evening at Old First Church, she set the seal on her triumph with a Schwabacher Debut Recital that was as close to incendiary perfection as an artist or audience can hope to come. Over a decade of regular attendance at this series, Netrebko's was easily the finest recital I have heard.
Here is a singer who simply has it all: a voice of astounding purity, precision and scope, extensive dynamic and tonal range, imagination, insight and wit -- all combined with a dazzling charisma that makes it all but impossible to look away when she is performing.
Yes indeed, I've gone a bit gaga. I defy anyone to have sat through Sunday's recital and remained immune.
Expertly accompanied by pianist John Churchwell, Netrebko offered an all-Russian program -- songs by Rimsky-Korsakov and Rachmaninoff in the first half, followed by Mussorgsky's charming cycle ``The Nursery'' and single selections by Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky and Oles Chishko (the encores were also Russian, an aria from Rimsky-Korsakov's ``Tale of Tsar Saltan'' and Piatrov's ``Gypsy Serenade'').
But if Netrebko bypassed the polyglot assortment that these programs traditionally provide, she found enough variety and individuality within her repertoire to keep the audience spellbound.
Throughout the first half, there were long, rapturous legato phrases, in which strands of pearly notes fused into a single utterance, and rhythmic precision joined with crystalline diction to give each song a distinct character. The Mussorgsky songs, on the other hand, were sparkling comic gems, full-fledged dramatic miniatures with Netrebko playing all the parts superbly.
The first thing one noticed was the amazing luster of her vocal tone -- a luxuriantly rich, velvety sound that never misses the pitch at any point throughout her range.
In the first song of the Rimsky- Korsakov set, ``The Clouds Begin to Scatter,'' the tessitura starts out fairly low, and for a second or two Netrebko came off like a mezzo-soprano, her singing husky and vibrant. But then the melodic line began to soar, and her sound exploded thrillingly into the space.
Those big, momentum-driven climaxes, in fact, are what I remember best from the first half of the recital -- the heart-wrenching burst of wordless grief at the end of Rach maninoff's ``The Harvest of Sorrow,'' and again at the high point of his ``Oh, Never Sing to Me Again.'' It was stunning to hear so much sound pour forth with such ease and technical control.
For the Mussorgsky cycle, Netrebko scaled things back, opting for exquisite detail rather than broad emotional effect. Like the childish imagination they depict, these songs dart and run all over the place, and Netrebko stayed with them beautifully -- singing an affecting lullaby to a doll, and conjuring up the dialogue between child and nanny with two contrasting voices. Not for a moment -- not even when she stumbled coming onstage -- did Netrebko betray any shortage of self-confidence. She is a true diva, and the fact that she affects a slightly outdated repertory of diva gestures -- crossing her hands languorously across her chest or looking seraphically heavenward -- without seeming silly is only a testament to her star power.
Sunday's recital, by the way, was evidently the first of Netrebko's young and brilliant career. Anyone fortunate enough to have been in attendance witnessed a historic event.
January 9, 1998 | SFchronicle
By any ordinary reckoning, Anna Netrebko's career has been running backward -- at least in San Francisco. The young Russian soprano started out here with a starring role, and only later got around to the traditional proving grounds of the Merola Opera Program.
Local audiences got their first glimpse of her in the fall of 1995, when she made an extraordinary U.S. debut as Lyudmila in Glinka's ``Ruslan and Lyudmila.'' With her crystalline tone and pinpoint technique, Netrebko came on like an accomplished and seasoned diva.
She was all of 23 years old.
Looking back now at her first visit to this country, Netrebko says it was ``like a fairy tale.'' Speaking in Russian through an interpreter, she recalls a happy working experience with a supportive group of collaborators headed by conductor Valery Gergiev. [an error occurred while processing this directive] ``Of course, I was very inexperienced to be doing this,'' she says. ``But I considered it as a deposit on my future career.''
The deposit certainly seems to be paying off. Netrebko has returned to San Francisco for four performances as Susanna in Mozart's ``Marriage of Figaro,'' beginning tonight. The new cast is a Who's Who of the recent bumper crop of Adler Fellows, with Nicolle Foland as the Countess, John Relyea as Figaro, David Okerlund as the Count and Zheng Cao as Cherubino.
Then before leaving town, Netrebko will appear on February 1 as part of the Schwabacher Debut Recital series, singing a program of songs by Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff and Mussorgsky.
In the meantime, she spent the summer of 1996 in the Merola Opera Program, traditionally the starting point for singers' progress through the San Francisco Opera's training wing. But if her fellow Merolini felt funny about the presence of a diva in their midst, Netrebko didn't notice it.
``If anyone treated me differently, it wasn't because I was a star but because I was a foreigner. Everyone would be joking and laughing, and I was thinking, `What's going on here?' '' In addition to her singing, Netrebko garnered attention for her beauty -- especially when the rumor began circulating that she had won a beauty contest back home. Like many rumors, though, this one turned out to be inflated.
``It was a silly thing that I did when I was 16, simply for lack of anything better to do,'' Netrebko says. ``And it's not true that I won -- actually I came in second. First, of course, was a blonde.''
Netrebko studied at the conservatory in St. Petersburg, where she still lives with her boyfriend, a dancer with the Kirov. It was the Kirov Opera, she says, and particularly Gergiev, that gave her her early start.
``All the credit should go to Gergiev -- whatever I've done has been because of him. He wanted a young singer for a production of `Figaro,' and when I auditioned he took me.''
Susanna, in fact, was Netrebko's first role with the Kirov. Her most notable endeavors, though, have been in the Russian repertory -- in addition to Lyudmila, which was recorded on video and a CD just nominated for a Grammy, she has also recorded the role of Louisa in Prokofiev's ``Betrothal in a Monastery.'' She'll sing both roles during the Kirov's residency at the Metropolitan Opera this spring, and presumably will sing Louisa in San Francisco in the fall, although the contracts haven't been signed yet.
For the future, she says she dreams of one day singing Donizetti's ``Lucia di Lammermoor.''
But for now, Susanna is a role close to her heart. ``I'm not a Countess -- look at me! I love the role, but it's not my character at all. But the character of Susanna and I are very, very close.''
How so? ``She's like me because she gets whatever she wants.''
|La Traviata||La Boheme||Manon||Lucia di Lammermoor||Romeo et Juliette||Don Giovanni|
|Iolanta||Eugene Onegin||The Tsar's Bride||Casta Diva||Bellini La sonnambula||Rusalka|
|Le Nozze di Figaro||I Capuleti e i Montecchi||Don Pasquale||Puritani||Idomeneo||Rigolletto|
Anna Netrebko official page
|La Traviata||Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiss||Dein ist mein ganzes Herz||Merry Widow Lippen schweigen||Russian opera arias|
|Quando Me'n Vo||Je veux vivre||Caro nome||Manon||Oh mio babbino caro|
|O soave fanciulla||Les filles de Cadix||Il Bacio||Casta Diva||Flowers Duet|
|Rigoletto||Bellini La sonnambula||Rusalka||Regnava nel silenzio||D'Oreste, d'Ajace|
|Le Nozze di Figaro||Gliere Concerto for Coloratura||L'elisir d'amore||Crudel, d'onor ragioni||Heia, in den Bergen|
On 14. March 2009, exactly two months after her very much awaited return to the stage at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, after a 6 month break due to the birth of her son Tiago Arua, Anna ...
Marfa's beautiful final aria, mad scene, death of Lyubasha. Film version of Rimsky's masterpiece about the unfortunate young girl who is selected to be the bride of Ivan the Terrible.
Eugene Onegin - Letter Scene - Anna Netrebko
anna netrebko - eugene onegin Letter scene from Act I (pt. 1)
anna netrebko - eugene onegin Letter scene from Act I (pt. 2)
Finalszene Tatjana - Onegin 3. Akt - Teil 2 Braunschweig 2009
Anna Netrebko The Snow Maiden (Scene and Aria from Prologue)
Anna Netrebko - The Snow Maiden Finale from Act IV
Anna Netrebko Mozart - Idomeneo - D'oreste, D'a...
Anna Netrebko Gliere Concerto for Coloratura So...
Netrebko and Villazón - Funny moments of Traviata
Erwin Schrott - Don Giovanni
Erwin Schrott Don Giovanni "Deh,vieni alla finestra,..." aus "Don Giovanni" von Mozart.
Erwin Schrott - Votre Toast (Toreador Song) 2009
Erwin Schrott Aprite un po' quegli occhi - Nozze di Figaro
Erwin Schrott - Arias
Erwin Schrott - Don Giovanni (LA Opera Podcast)
Erwin Schrott - Don Giovanni (news segment)
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Last modified: September 12, 2017