Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Anna Netrebko: Live at the Metropolitan Opera

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Anna Netrebko: Live at the Metropolitan Opera

Article excerpt

Anna Netrebko: Live At The Metropolitan Opera. Anna Netrebko, soprano; Ekaterina Semenchuk, mezzo soprano; Juan Diego Florez, Joseph Calleja, Piotr Beczala, Roberto Alagna, tenors; Dimitri Hvorostovksy, Mariusz Kwiecien, Gerald Finley, baritones; Simone Alaimo, Eric Halfvarson, Ildar Abdrazakov, basses; James Levine, Patrick Summers, Valery Gergiev, Sylvain Chamberling, Maurizio Benini, Asher Fisch, Placido Domingo, Marco Armiliato, conductors; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus. (Deutsche Grammophon B0015987-02; 65:58)

Bellini: "Qui la voce sua soave" (I puritani); Prokofiev: "Ya ne budu-Kak solnca za goroy" (War and Peace); Mozart: "Vedrai carino" (Don Giovanni); Verdi: "Ah, piu non ragiono!" (Rigoletto); Gounod: "Nuit d'hymnée," "Dieu! Quel frisson. Amour, ranime mon courage" (Roméo et Juliette); Offenbach: "C'est une chanson d'amour" (Les contes d'Hoffmann); Puccini: "D'onde lieta," "O soave fanciulla" (La bohème); Donizetti: "La moral di tutto questo" (Don Pasquale), "Eccola! Il dolce suono . . . Ardon gl'incensi" (Lucia di Lammermoor).

Writer Ethan Mordden once likened the studio recordings of Maria Callas to a rosebud pressed in a book. The metaphor suggests that those performances captured in the relative safety of the recording studio had their own sort of beauty, but were but a pale reflection of what the tempestuous soprano was like in live performance, where one never knew for certain just what glories (or catastrophes) might ensue. It was this electrifying sense of "event" that makes the live recordings of Maria Callas so indispensable to understanding and appreciating her greatness.

Russian soprano Anna Netrebko may not be quite so turbulent an artist as Callas, but she is a similar sort of theatrical creature who thrives on the energy of live performance. Audiences in every major opera house around the world have succumbed to Netrebko's whole-hearted artistic generosity and to her assured dramatic intensity in styles ranging from bel canto to verismo. Netrebko's voice may be much more conventionally beautiful and more technically sound than Callas's was (even in her prime), but it is the combination of lovely vocalism with exceptional theatrical prowess that is the true key to Netrebko's extraordinary success. This is surely why she has starred in more high definition simulcasts from the Met than any other man or woman with the company, and anyone fortunate enough to have experienced any of those simulcasts surely knows what all the fuss is about.

It is a further indication of Netrebko's standing at the Metropolitan Opera that she is being honored with a special recording in honor of her tenth anniversary with the company. The Met has certainly honored singers before with special releases, but these have consisted of little more than slick repackaging of some of their best studio recordings into yet another cavalcade of greatest hits. This release is altogether different because it consists entirely of live recordings from the stage of the Met. It marks yet another move by the administration of general manager Peter Gelb to make the rich broadcast legacy of the Metropolitan Opera much more available to the public. Before Mr. Gelb assumed leadership of the company, the Met doggedly kept its radio broadcasts sequestered from the public as though guarding the proverbial coffee can in in the kitchen cupboard in which one hid a wad of money in case of emergencies. Gelb knew from the moment he came to the Met that these broadcasts needed to be heard much more widely, both to inspire and edify opera fans and to enhance the company's profile before the public. Many of them are available to subscribers of Met Player, an exciting tool found on the Mets website with which one can listen to literally hundreds of past broadcasts and telecasts. Moreover, the Met is now selling recordings of some of its broadcasts on the Sony label, with historic live performances such as Fidelio (Nilsson, Vickers), Tosca (Price, Corelli), and Roméo et Juliette (Sayão, Bjørling) now available for purchase by the general public at very reasonable prices. …

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