One of the pleasures of our opera course is tracking the development of a singer. Here's your chance! The Met Opera’s live streaming this week (from April 5th) offers three very different stages of Anna Netrebko’s soaring ascent to become ruling soprano in the top opera houses.
It wasn’t always so. Born 1971, she was ‘discovered’ by Gergiev, her first opera role at Mariinsky in 1994. Then, she was a lyric and coloratura soprano. One of the last of these roles is her performance as the irritating Norina in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale (2010). (below.)
She moved into heavier 19th-century romantic roles, and especially Verdi's, triumphed as Lady Macbeth in Macbeth in ROH and the Met (our production is 2014). Since 2016, she has turned her focus to verismo repertoire. This week the Met screens two monumental performances, of demanding Verdi roles, the second an acclaimed Aida. Four years apart, they display the now darker voice and formidable stage presence Netrebko offers as she nears 50.
How does the voice change, and the diva reach to another set of roles? There’s an early interview here (2011) - with clues to the personality behind these role triumphs. 'Some people have passion and energy, others do not’.
This is a diva for the times: ‘She manages to make being over-the-top a vehicle for authenticity’.
There's a wickedly incisive review of Netrebko as a diva here.
And here’s a portrait of her transformation from country girl to Instagram star.
Now, Anna Netrebko is 'among the very top tier of true stars in the opera world, able to sell out any house just by putting her name on the marquee'.
So - here are the details of this week's Anna-viewing. The Met's timetable is here.
On Sunday 5th April (from 9.30 am till 8.30 am Monday)
Verdi's Macbeth, the Met's 2014 revival of a production premiered in 2007, directed by the onetime leader of Britain’s Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), Adrian Noble. The amazing Željko Lučić in the title role, Rene Pape is Banquo. Interview here with Lučić.
On Tuesday 7th April (from 9.30 am till 8.30 am Wednesday)
Verdi's Aida (2018)
There's a thoughtful review at Opera Wire.
'She came, she sang and she conquered', glowed the Observer reviewer. But reviewers agreed Netrebko (left) was balanced by a brilliant performance from mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili as the princess Amneris. Their disputed tenor hero was widely criticised - according to NYTimes, tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko 'bellowed his way through the role of Radamès'. But then, Radamès is a faulty chap: this opera is basically about the women.
On Sunday April 12th (from 9.30 am Sunday till 8.30 am Monday) we go back in time to Netrebko the lyric soprano - Don Pasquale 2010
Fascinating to get a flashback - bel canto Anna. The performance was much praised. A flashback to other times too in this amazingly sexist review of this amazingly sexist and ageist opera. But it does have some great Donizetti music.
And a footnote for those enjoying singer- comparisons: if you watched Pearl Fishers on 4 April, it will be interesting to revisit the partnership of baritone and tenor Mariusz Kwiecien (above - he's Dr. Malatesta), and Matthew Polenzani, (at left, as the wimpish Ernesto).
Of course there are many other operas livestreaming - and some from the Met in this week that were unmissable - Norma and Romeo and Juliette in particular.
Go to Limelight's On with the Show page for what's on, in theatre, music and opera. Thankyou, Limelight, and thankyou to all the music and opera companies kindly keeping us company online.