Cher Public

The little gunmetal dress

Sleeveless Anna Netrebko performs scenes from Verdi’s Macbeth.

  • La Valkyrietta

    Well, I will go to the Met to see Macbeth, but Trebs is no Verrett, not by a long shot.

    • For one thing, she’s not dead.

      • ML

        Does this mean the whole thing was filmed? Anyway, thanks.

      • La Valkyrietta

        Gays who lived through the 80s and senior opera fans have in common that some of their favorite people are dead.

        I look forward to seeing Macbeth if the Met ever opens this year. I am not crazy about the production, but love the opera. And, of course, I am glad Anna is alive.

      • ailsamegan

        How witty -- but you’ve already used that so called joke.Being dead doesn’t preclude you from discussing someone -- that’s the point of history.

        • The point of history is not, however, making the false comparison between actual performances by currently active (not to mention breathing) performers and someone’s rose-tinted memory.

          Shirley Verrett gave some sensational performances of Lady Macbeth about 40 years ago and there happens to be a video document of her at her best. So should be retire the opera until someone comes along who is able to sing it better than Verrett did, again at her best?

          The reason I keep saying “she’s dead” is that dead people are not available to perform, and operatic performance does not consist of sitting in your den listening to old LPs or gazing at ancient VHS tapes. The comparison of Netrebko to Verrett is irrelevant, and, worse, it’s destructive: nobody can live up to some elderly queen’s gauzy recollections of the past, so why should anyone bother to sing the great roles any more? Verrett or Callas or Lilli Lehmann sang it better anyway.

          • Arianna a Nasso

            But in this case, one can compare a video recording of Netrebko live in performance with a video recording of Verrett live in performance -- apples and apples. We’re not comparing a video of Netrebko with someone’s recollection of a Nilsson performance experienced at the old Met which has not been recorded live. Netrebko brings virtues to the role which Verrett did not, but Verrett brought virtues which Netrebko does not, on this basis of these particular video clips.

            • This argument would make sense if the topic at hand were “which DVD of Macbeth should I buy?”

              But that wasn’t how the argument was framed: “Trebs is no Verrett,” remember? The living person is not as good as the corpse.

            • Porgy Amor

              one can compare a video recording of Netrebko live in performance with a video recording of Verrett live in performance

              One can also compare video of Netrebko to video of Tatiana Serjan, Liudmyla Monastyrska, or Violeta Urmana, all excellent Lady Macbeths who are still alive and singing it. No lie on Urmana. I know she was often boring or otherwise problematic after she started taking soprano roles, but her performance in that Tcherniakov production of Macbeth was the best thing I had heard from her since the Scala Azucena almost a decade earlier.

          • La Valkyrietta

            When you see or hear recordings, it often does not matter if they are old or recent, and all I have seen or heard of Netrebko’s Lady Macbeth are recordings. Whether it is irrelevant and destructive to compare old and new recordings I don’t know, but it is something that every opera fan does and will forever continue to do. The fan then will choose the performances and clips he will play endlessly and analyze the reasons, or whatever.

            I agree with one aspect of your post and that is the negative attitude of those who think they have seen and heard the perfect renditions, so nothing else is worth hearing. No. Perhaps the future holds someone better than Callas, Verrett, Lilly Lehmann, or Marianna Barbieri-Nini. Also, even if the past holds better performances than what is offered now, there is the joy of the live performance actually taking place. That experience is what is most valuable in opera, for most informed audiences. Besides, one has the recordings to hear whenever, twenty four hours every day, whereas one can see a live opera performance only at the time and place one happens to be at, that is, one can experience fewer live performances than recordings.

            One does yearn for the non plus ultra performance. I have experienced some of those live in the theatre (not, I am sure, as many as Clita has). The sensation, walking out of the house, when you can’t find a single fault, only float and gloat in the joy of an experience that you don’t want yet to be aware has ended, when you are about to shout to the fleeting moment, “arrestati, sei bello”. I feel I will not have that experience with Anna’s Lady Macbeth, but I will only be too happy to be wrong.

            As to rose-tinted memory, I can’t find the right Thelma Ritter quotation to reply, but there are the recordings to confirm.

            I think, La Cieca, that we agree more often than disagree. Cheers.

    • uwsinnyc

      True. But she has by far the more secure and thrilling top.

  • CwbyLA

    She is so intense! I love it.

    • grimoaldo

      Wow. I love it too. Thanks for posting the clips La C.

  • steveac10

    For a first Lady M this is pretty damned good. There’s even decent trills thrown in there -- not used to hearing those in Macbeth except in recordings. Also, this production looks intriguing -- although I’m not sure what to make of the hotel ballroom sized chandelier hanging over the tent without context.

  • DeepSouthSenior

    As Forrest Gump would say, “Ah lahkt it a laht.”

  • Constantine A. Papas

    Her voice cuts through powerfully, albeit heavy orchestration and chorus. What a change in a few short years. I’m sure she’ll better at the Met, having gained more experience.

  • scifisci

    Wow this is quite stunning! Her singing is satisfying on every level--it is dramatic, incisive, and fearless, yet without making the compromises most everyone who sings this role has to, namely cutting corners at the bottom and/or top. Netrebko rather fills out both extremes, almost as if to make a point! The passagework too is not shirked and more importantly her singing is alert to all the shifts in mood and color in the score. I look forward to witnessing her triumph in the role in the flesh (fingers crossed the season opens on time!).

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    What generously long videos from Munich and interesting to watch Anna entering this new phase of her career. It remains to be seen how singing this way might ravage her top sooner than she expects. I confess, I like it a lot but not at the expense of the beauty of her voice.

    • steveac10

      I don’t foresee anything all that dire. I sense zero strain or forcing on her part in these clips. The reality is some voices start light and end light, and some morph into something bigger at some point. This sounds much more comfortable in her voice than recent Adinas and Norinas.

    • The impression I got from hearing the entire performance recorded is that Netrebko oversang some, or rather, sang some sections of the score more fully than is absolutely necessary. I would assume that as she continues to perform this role, she will find places especially in the ensembles where she can “coast” a bit here and there. Again, in the full recording, she did sound a little tired at the end of the sleepwalking scene and the last D-flat wasn’t up to pitch. This I think is a relatively easy fix — a few minor readjustments earlier in the evening and she will arrive at the end of the role in better shape.

      I don’t hear any artificial darkening of the voice or any pushing except perhaps once or twice on low phrases. She sounds to me like she is singing this role in her own voice, and in general that’s good vocal hygiene. Presumably she won’t sing a huge number of performances of Lady Macbeth, i.e., she won’t “specialize” in the part the way some dramatic sopranos do. Her schedule otherwise this year is Trovatore, Manon Lescaut, Boheme, Anna Bolena and Iolanta, which is a reasonably healthy mix. (The Salzburg performance suggests she sings Leonora with a lyric approach and she has spoken in interviews about how this is a purely “vocal” role — so maybe this kind of part will help her keep good vocal habits despite the occasional “abuse” she chooses to do to perform Lady Macbeth.

      Furthermore, Netrebko is now 42 years old and she has been singing professionally for 20 years. It may be she doesn’t want to be singing when she’s 60, so she is choosing to do repertoire that interests her now instead of waiting until she doesn’t feel like singing any more.

      • steveac10

        I hope the Met performances don’t get scuttled by labor issues -- once she really gets a grip on this it could be quite stunning. I actually prefer this type of voice in the role the the agility challenged dramatic that usually tackle it. It really has more in common with Leonora and Luisa than it does with Turandot and Isolde.

    • ML

      My thoughts exactly.

      • ML

        How does that HTML tag work?

        • ML

          or the gray box. Ma come si fa?

    • ML

      “It remains to be seen how singing this way might ravage her top sooner than she expects. I confess, I like it a lot but not at the expense of the beauty of her voice.”

      My thoughts exactly.

  • Milady DeWinter

    I agree with Cieca. I think Netrebko has “good vocal hygiene” and is wise enough not to oversing or endanger the top. We won’t be hearing her rend her voice as Abigaille or Turandot. The voice seems to have gained much in circumference over the last six years, has that naturally dark, luscious center, and still is free and flowing at the top. And throwing things in like the Trovatore Leonora and Anna Bolena will keep her on her toes in terms of agility, never her strongest point, but she has established a decent working method which if not exactly scintallant is very good at “indicating”, and she knows how to keep the line moving. She has also work out some intonation problems, which used to be very troubling. I thinks it’s because of the size of the voice that driving it around, sometimes the intonation in midvoice would go awry. Maybe it’s hard to hear herself. I am always happy and grateful to and for singers who get better before the inevitable onslaught of time and the wear and tear of a big career.

  • DeepSouthSenior

    Good for Anna! I agree wholeheartedly with the positive comments above. Anna has shown again that she’s a serious artist, devoted to art and to her craft. Her “cover girl” years are long past, and she seems fully to have embraced her new self. Now that’s she’s combined newly-found power and mature control with her “naturally dark, luscious center,” it’s almost like we have a brand new diva. I doubt, though, that it was much of a stretch to let out her inner murderess.

    With proper care and feeding she could keep this up for ten or twelve years, and go from strength to strength. (Well, maybe not so much feeding.)

  • Interesting choice to have Macbeth on stage for the entire “La luce langue”. When everyone undressed in the Banquet Scene, I thought that it looked an awful lot like Kusej’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. And then I found out that this is a Kusej production as well.

    I think Netrebko sounds very good. Some of the low-lying parts do stretch her but all in all, I quite like her here.

    • What’s funny about the undressed scene is that all the choristers are enacting this stylised choreography while Calleja (as MacDuff) just stands stiffly.

      • grimoaldo

        Yeah. I restrained myself from saying anything about that but the chorus at the end of Act Two in their undies waving their arms around and googling their eyes and making faces is just so stupid, it is the sort of thing that gets “modern” opera productions a bad name. They are singing “our country has become a den of thieves”, how does that relate to stretching their arms out to Macbeth stripped down to their nether garments and making daft faces? the actions Netrebko does do not bother me, they make some sense. I have learnt to live with this sort of silliness, you just tune it out and try to pay no attention but are there really people who watch that, specifically what the chorus is doing, and think “Ah, what vibrant, lively theatre!”?

        • Your restraint is admirable. The next thing you know, you’ll go a whole day without bitching about Marina Poplavskaya.

  • la vociaccia

    Do take notice that Netrebko’s wig, while being the same color as the one worn by Michael a year ago, is elegantly blown out in the Letter scene, whereas Michael’s looked like it had fallen into a vat of melted crisco

    • Batty Masetto

      If only Nadja herself would fall into a vat of melted Crisco…

      • manou

        There was a poor diva called Nadja
        Whose talent was much less than nada
        They filled up a vat
        Of synthetic fat
        To fry her as an enchilada.

        • PetertheModest

          Hast thou one about Popsy, perhaps rhyming with dropsy -- ?

          • manou

            I am afraid that might involve an autopsy.

        • Batty Masetto

          I just heard a distant banshee shriek that suggests either a) Nadja herself is in the neighborhood, or b) Genevieve has come up with another recipe.

          Be very afraid.

        • Buster

          Nadja Michael is so innig
          I love her wahnsinnig.

          • Batty Masetto

            Die Nadja ist nicht innig, sondern spinnig,
            Und macht den armen Buster leider schwachsinnig.

      • la vociaccia

        Is that part of the new Bluebeard regie?

        • ML

          The régie is supposed to be good, and NM’s Judit decent. She was once a Fricka, you know.

  • antikitschychick

    Saw this on Instagram Yday and it perfectly sums up my sentiments re: this performance.


    Some more serious thoughts:
    My does she look POSSESSED!!! And MY OH MY is she showing those TEETH!!! :shock:.
    She is singing with such aggression and sheer force its like she wants to crawl out of her skin :-P. She was obviously very eager to sink her teeth (quite literally it seems!) into this role. Its really quite thrilling to watch and the sound is, as Cieca says, overwhelmingly generous, well produced and even. The development of her lower register is especially impressive. There were moments of like, true Grandezza.

    Ever since I heard it on her Verdi album, I’ve always loved how she sings la luce langue. Its a beautiful, dark, lush sound that just flows out of her and I think it depicts Lady M’s rather ravenous (even lascivious) thirst for power and unwavering ambition. I love the staging and the level of physicality she invests as well. I was also really pleasantly surprised by how well she sings the brindissi. She sounds pretty immaculate there to me…great projection, in tune, trills perfectly placed, etc. I really like how she continued the trope of giving an ironic rendition of the aria as she did with coppia iniqua in Bolena too. Even though she is supposed to be making a ‘cheerful’ toast, instigating everyone to drink and have fun, her demeanor says otherwise: she is raging with fury and resentment toward Macbeth, (perhaps), in having been designated to perform such a ditty at such a moment. I found that to be a very effective approach and she pulls it off with aplomb.

    Judging from the above clips, the production looks effective as well. This is just my interpretation but, the scene for her opening aria for instance depicts a sort of dystopian setting, exemplified by the contrast between the decadence of the oversized chandelier and the wrinkled, unluxurious grey tent sitting beneath it. Moreoever, if one analyzes, or better yet ‘takes in’ the setting vertically, the two props may be a representation of the Macbeth couple itself, its inner foundation vs the public manifestation of themselves, or how they present themselves within their respective power circle, or ‘ royal court’ or what have you: at the very top (i.e. on the surface) there is the impression of grandeur and great ‘illuminating’, awe-inspiring power, but beneath the surface (i.e. the ‘foundation’ one might say) instead of a great, fancy palace lies a corrosive moral decay (i.e. a grey tent). The tent may also signify a sort of impermanence, or outlaw/fringe status within a world of moral extremes….

    The final scene of Act II I found to be equally if not more effective in that the stripping down of the chorus (i.e. ‘royal court) is quite literally the exposure of the decay…the entire court and the legion of guests and followers of the Macbeth couple turns into a body of indistinguishable, mindless corpses, or even zombies, all gnawing at Macbeth/the crown to get a taste of the power…it can also represent a foreshadowing of his downfall…or, corresponding to the religious themes in the work, they can also represent an amalgam of ‘lost souls’ or ‘demons’ trying to get at him… perhaps they are already ruling in hell and are descending further into one of Dante’s 7 circles. Moreover, if seen from afar I think its a visually striking scene to behold as well. AN’s stage business I found less effective because the bleeding head looks very artificial to me so it doesnt complement the very real bodies surrounding Macbeth. Me thinks it would have been better (though probably more polemic) to have one of the male extras or one of the chorus members’ physically crawl up her nightgown, though she prob wouldnt be comfortable with that lol. Anyway, my point is it that it would have been more effective to somehow use a live body instead of a fake prop for that particular scene. (Really not trying to be inflammatory, just giving my honest opinion about what would have been more dramatically effective during that scene).

    Back to AN’s teeth (oh and the the singing too). I cant get over how she’s really articulating alot, with her teeth, and still manages to keep the sound from spreading & firmy placed/covered. Impressive. My voice teacher used to always tell us to show our teeth when we sang, and often made it a point to demonstrate how it made a difference in the sound (and it did). But La Nosferata here has taken that to a whole new level lol.

    The only real downside to the performance for me is still the coloratura passages of the vieni t’afretta… but I agree with Cieca that its largely due to her oversinging. I hope she’s able to sort that out for the Met performances. On the recording that was posted here that I listened to, the ensembles sounded unbalanced to me as well but I dont think thats entirely her fault.

    Oh and with respect, the costumes are all ill-fitted and unflattering to her figure…but perhaps it was intended that she look somewhat unflattering?? Good on her for not giving a damn and focusing on the performance though. It takes a very secure person to pull that off.

    • The staging at the end of the second act I think is inspired by the lines of the ensemble. Lady sings

      Spirto imbelle! il tuo spavento
      vane larve t’ha creato.
      Il delitto è consumato;
      chi morì tornar non può.

      And the ensemble sings

      Biechi arcani! sgomentato
      da fantasmi egli ha parlato!

      It’s not an impossibly huge stretch, then, for Macbeth to be seeing spirits of the dead wherever he looks. Perhaps this is madness caused by guilt or perhaps these are indeed the ghosts of earlier victims of his ambition. (As a successful general, he would likely have a good deal of innocent blood on his hands.)

      The issues with the costumes and the prop head I think have to do at least in part with the fact that this production was never intended for broadcast as a film. Everything probably read well enough from the auditorium for this very brief run of only two performances. Had this been done for an HD broadcast, more care might have gone into fitting Netrebko’s slips and building a more realistic prop head.

      • antikitschychick

        True dat.


        This was from the rehearsal for that recent Paris concert. She sounds even better here than she did during the actual concert performance, despite the fiddling with the glasses (though I love how she gets all dramatic at the end and finally takes them off… a diva move fo’ sho’ lol).

        Ok am going to try and finish watching the Trovatore bcast from this morning :-D.

    • ML

      Anti, the bleeding head is the least of the innumerable problems. To see the whole thing in context, Nadja Michael’s 2013 try is on a pirate DVD; was streamed.

      • antikitschychick

        Thanks for the heads up ML. I’ll try and watch it if I have time.

  • ML
    • ML


      • Feldmarschallin

        It says 62.000€ but I know it is silly to quibble in those categories.

        • gal

          Anyway the austrian papers who spread the news didn’t check anything and Lebrecht shows he’s always eager to be silly in publishing it.
          First the ring is not on the right finger.
          Second she owns this ring for at least 2 years.
          She wore this personnal jewelry for the HD telecast of Manon in act IV and she had it again during the final scene of Onegin in Vienna.
          So… Much ado about nothing.