Cher Public

Ultima voce del mio destino

Long rumored, here it is: Anna Netrebko sings “Suicidio!” from La Gioconda!

  • Milady DeWinter

    Just pressed the “Like” button (metaphorically) five times for Anna’s rehearsal (?) cut of “Suicidio”. She will make a terrific Gioconda.

  • Camille

    I love that Gioconda skirt!

    And this skirt fits her much better than that of Adina’s, aside from a few minor quibbles on the last page. I look forward greatly to hearing her in this much loved (by me), and unjustly crucified work. She can make it work, alfor all you will need is five more poupées to complete the picture.

    I do so hope the price we pay for this will not include the fiancé as Enzo adorato, though…as I survived Aquiles Machado, and that was penalty enough to pay.

    • Camille

      All you need is five more poupées AND a ballet, that is!

    • manou

      I would venture that this is probably another masterful photoshop from our doyenne (maybe from some bodice-ripper or other).

    • Bluevicks

      If you survived Aquiles Machado, you could survive pretty much everything…

  • Milady DeWinter

    Couldn’t agree with you more Cammille -- THIS is something worth a new production chez Gelb for La Nebtrebko. And yes, it is very unjustly crucified as a opera -- mais pourquoi? We have hall entered, happily, into that “operatic contract/willing suspension of disbelief” thing -- and the crux -- no Pascal pun intended -- is -- does the music amplify and enhance and vivify the stato d’animo put before us? And with Gioconda, and/or any work worth its salt, or jupe bleu, if the answer is a resounding “yes” (as with La G) -- what’s all the kerfuffle about?
    I hope they can surround her with an appropriately voiced and gifted phalnanx of vocal stars.
    I’m sure that your time spent enduring Aquiles Machado has been duly noted by the guardian angels, therefore any possible Purgatory Duty must be greatly reduced at this time.

    • Camille

      Pourquoi? Because they can not find good enough balls-to-the-walls singers who employ a Grand Opéra style well enough or without embarrassed awkwardness.

      Of course, this opera is ripe for a Bieito “Regie to the Rescue” adaptation—instead of the canals and piazze of Vienna it could take place in the canals under the Paris Opéra, for instance. Drag into the proceedings eine kleine Music of the Night, if you will….

      Oh, and never worry, for I have endured far worse than pobre Senor Machaco and I shan’t name any names. He was just stand-and sing-tenor ennui, the least of many other capital offenses I’ve seen Crisco their way across the world stages.

    • Musically, La Gioconda is first-rate. But dramatically, it’s a tough on to put across to modern audiences. But yes, I’d love to see a new production at the Met. Perhaps, Stefan Herheim is the man for the job…

      • Milady DeWinter

        Well, that’s just it kashania: musically, if you get a bunch of singers who can deliver in a totally musical but demented way, Gioconda is no more dramatically outlandish than say Trovatore or Rigoletto, or even the complicated scenarios of some of the Handel’s popular opera serie.

  • Milady DeWinter

    “phalanx”, sorry, AND, to be sure, a helluva ballet -- with someone as dazzling as Mr. Corella.

  • pasavant

    Painful. I guess we can start the death-watch now.

  • Evenhanded


    Hmmm… Overall, this sounds worrisome to me. I absolutely LOVE Netrebko, but have been watching her rapid expansion into more dramatic repertoire with a measure of concern. I get it that some are hopeful that she will satisfy in whatever music she decides to grace with her gorgeous sound and charismatic personality. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works.

    Voices change as singers age, for sure, but very seldom (if ever?) has there been a singer who evolves from light lyric coloratura into spinto soprano without paying a price. The price may be pitch or evenness of line or wobbling or loss of the high register; the list of potential problems is a long one. I thought her Lady Macbeth was thrilling -- among the best EVER -- but it was risky singing and very loud (consistently so).

    In the “Suicidio”, I hear an absolutely artificial chest voice that sounds nothing like her natural timbre. The tessitura is too low for her. Period. The betrayal of a technique that successfully integrates the vocal registers is evident throughout; good things rarely develop once a singer makes these kinds of decisions. I hope she becomes the rare exception.

    • The problem with your reasoning is that Netrebko was never a light lyric coloratura or whatever other six or seven adjectives you care to apply: she was a full lyric who sang very lightly, even somewhat off her voice, for a number of years. She changed her focal approach as she got into her 30s and started singing with a fuller sound in fuller repertoire. For lighter stuff like Don Pasquale she still tended to pull back a bit.

      Another issue here is that every voice is unique, and, as they saying goes, Netrebko’s voice is more unique than most. It’s unusually dark in timbre by nature and it seems to be a “one-register” voice, by which I mean that there is not any noticeable adjustment going on in the passaggio. The stuff that almost always daunts lyric sopranos, e.g., the sequence of rising phrases in the refrain of Antonia’s song in Hoffmann she seems at least to just open her mouth and sing.

      What I’m saying is: we’re not talking about Roberta Peters singing Isolde here; rather, we’re talking about a full lyric singing a single aria from what is generally regarded as a spinto role (i.e., Gioconda.) The Lady Macbeth is another question which centers on the accretion of performance practice around a role: because a lot of dramatic sopranos have sung a part does not mean it is a “dramatic soprano part.” The role of Lady Macbeth was at least in part shaped to the voice of Barbieri-Nini, who never sang Elektra or even Brunnhilde: her warhorses were Semiramide and Anna Bolena.

      And, finally, at the risk of repeating myself, Netrebko is now 43 years old and has been singing professionally for over 20 years. If she at this point in her life makes some artistic choices that shorten her “longevity” by a year or two, what business is it of yours? Not everyone wants to be able to stun her friends and admirers with her perfectly preserved voice at the age of 65; some artists prefer to use the voice instead of hoarding it. And this is assuming that your predictions of doom (based on about four minutes of singing a piece learned for the occasion) turn out to be true: it may well be that if Netrebko decides to add the complete Gioconda to her repertoire, she will change the way she approaches the part. Again, this is assuming that these four minutes of singing do not ruin her voice irreparably.

      • Evenhanded


        You seem to be very touchy on this topic, La Cieca, and I am not inclined to start an argument on this topic, since I suspect we agree on most points. I was simply making a few observations, and your ears are by no means the “correct” ears. My opinions are equally valid. There is absolutely no problem with my reasoning whatsoever, but thank you for your opinion on my comments.

        I didn’t compare Neterebko to “Roberta Peters singing Isolde”. Nor did I refer to Lady Macbeth as a “dramatic soprano part”. Nor did I imply that she should be able to “stun her friends and admirers with her perfectly preserved voice at the age of 65”. Nor did I make any predictions of doom. Nor did I say that “these four minutes of singing” would “ruin her voice irreparably”.

        I think my comments were quite balanced and fair. If you think otherwise, then you are entitled to your opinion, but your interpretation/embellishment of the meaning behind my comments seems to be mostly inaccurate.

        • I think I understand that you prefer your opinions to remain unchallenged. I’ll try to remember that in the future.

        • Quanto Painy Fakor

      • vilbastarda

        Thank you, Cieca! I feel validated by your eloquent characterization of Netrebko’s voice. It always baffled me that she was labeled as a light, or even coloratura voice. To my ear she always, always sounded lyric, even with a spinto tendency. Just because she had easy high notes, and not enough breath support early on, she ended up being a “light” soprano. Also I could never understand the repertory choices that she made, or were made for her in light bel canto/soubrette roles. As you said, she was never one, and many times sang off the voice. I think she finally arrived where her voice belongs. And luckily she has enough breath control now to support her voice properly. I really think that this is what she gained with age: ample breath, and confidence to go for it.

        I think she was spectacular as Lady Macbeth, both vocally and dramatically. I don’t think she was loud at all time, I actually was very impressed with her dynamics, and nuanced phrasing.

        Good for her for venturing into more “heavy” repertoire, it suits her voice, and her personality, and adding her strong charisma, I am sure she will be very satisfying in this.

      • laddie

        It’s unusually dark in timbre by nature and it seems to be a “one-register” voice, by which I mean that there is not any noticeable adjustment going on in the passaggio.

        IMESHO, I find the “one register” voice to be the most glorious aspect of her technique. There seems to be a perfect mixture of resonances at all times. It thrills me to hear it; I don’t think anyone does it better in this day and age.

        I guess I might consider this to be call homogeneity but that word is often associated with the “generic American soprano” category often noted in these pages and in chat. I don’t find homogeneity such a bad thing myself but perhaps too often it is combined with little variance in color and dynamics that lend to the generic quality of the sound. In any event, no one could accuse Ms. Netrebko of that kind of blandness.

        • Yeah, singers are often criticised for a lack of evenness in their registers. No such problem for Netrebko. Garanca is very similar in that regard.

  • La Cieca, you have a lovely daughter. :)


  • Milady DeWinter

    “Voices change as singers age, for sure, but very seldom (if ever?) has there been a singer who evolves from light lyric coloratura into spinto soprano without paying a price”
    --Lilli Lehmann went from Forest Bird to Queen of the Night to Lucia to Valentine to on to Isolde and Brunhilde -- and was still singing at 60, things like “Ach ich liebte,” high Ds intact. True, the tone had become somewhat sour, but time takes its toll even from the best.
    But I see your point and hope that she charts a vocally sane course for the future. To me, AN sounds comfortable (if musically tentative at this point -- and it does sound like a rehearsal, doesn’t it? -- ) but the “In questi fieri momenti” sounds very much like her voice, not artificially conjured. “Dentro l’avel” needs work, but I think she’s smart enough to find a way through it.

  • scifisci

    I like how gutsy and glamorous her singing of this is but it does sound to me like she’s a bit TOO excited to be singing this if that makes sense. Musicians might understand what I mean….
    I think she’s darkening her lower register in an exaggerated way, especially during “fra le tenebre”, but hey this is just a rehearsal and that’s how the kinks get ironed out.
    Regarding her lady macbeth that was mentioned above, I saw it and did not think it unremittingly loud. In fact I was surprised by the amount of finesse, lovely shading, and range of colors she had along with the more dramatic loud singing.

    • messa di voce

      “I think she’s darkening her lower register in an exaggerated way, especially during “fra le tenebre” ”

      Is there any other way to sing those phrases? If you don’t more or less slam into the chest, they go for naught (i.e., Debbie Joy).

      • la vociaccia

        You can slam the chest without over-darkening. They don’t have to go hand-in-hand.

    • Camille

      Yes, scifisci, I do hear that excitement you speak of too, and I think that is a bit of the problem, but just for now. And that will all wear off as she gets more experienced in the role.

      This role will at least allow her to express her outgoing, expressive and LARGE temperament in a way that is needed by the role, and I think that she can make the part ‘LIVE’ in a way that not that many others, at least the ones who comes here as I don’t know what hidden treasures may lie in Budapest or Stuttgart or Bordeaux or Kazahkstan. I will listen again to the “far le tenebre” but frankly I thought she did not do too much à la Callas at that point, and for that, I was relieved. You have good ears so I will listen again on a larger speaker than an iPhone!

  • Camille

    What was this? A rehearsal tape? A recital?

    Why so much judgement at this early stage? It’s not all perfectly placed yet but it is certainly a decent start and I have been subjected to FAR FAR worse in performance!

    I was going to say at LEAST there is not a trill, but then I remembered all that fioriture hula-hooping around at the end of act four. I think it will be a go for Netrebko as long as she will festina lente her way there. Still wish she would sing an Aïda or two first.

    For god sakes, she’s forty three or so, the time is ripe!

  • mirywi

    in the thread HERE announcing Netrebko”s upcoming Turandot somebody wrote that the only worse Turandot ever is Caballe’s. AN hasn’t even had the chance to sing that one yet. I have loved her from the first note (Sirius MET broadcast of Donizetti) and if she IS on the road to vocal ruin I’ll stick close anyway. It won’t be dull. And who else has a REAL trill now?

    • laddie

      Does Joyce DiDonato count?

    • CwbyLA

      Renee Fleming has a real trill.

      • javier

        it warms my heart to read that. yes, fleming’s trill is the real deal. she’s not just alternating two notes in a mechanical way, like some singers do. you really need a true trill to sing handel or any bel canto role. a great example is “era desso” where she practically sings everything on a trill.

    • la vociaccia

      Most professional singers have a real trill; the problem is that listeners all have different ideas of what a trill should sound like.

    • Yes Fleming has a very good trill. Olga Peretyatko too.
      I’m still not sure about the trills of Julia Lezhneva. They sound nice but I’m not sure if it’s a real trill.

      Bartoli’s trill is one of my favorites, but people here told me her trill is fake. Anyway, I thought her trills were pretty weak during her last concert so I’m not sure if she is still able to trill well.

      trill trill trill

    • PCally

      Miah Person, Karina Gauvin sometimes

  • Vevy beautiful, very sincere and vocally convincing, and fully in the grand tradition which I have missed in all the workmanlike performances which have gone past us during the last 30 years or so.

    • I don’t mind the ‘working’ up of the chest. It’s there. I mind a bit that around the very top she switches to the lyric sound. She doesn’t take the full voice up. That’s a bit dangerous in this repertoire, and it sounds a bit artificial in the musical context. Very impressive tryout on the whole.

      • Interesting about taking the full voice up. I’m no expert but from what I understand, for some voices, it’s just not possible or vocally healthy to take the full weight of the voice to the top of the range. My take is that Netrebko is doing what makes sense for her voice up there.

      • luvtennis


        Interesting perspective -- I tend to think that it depends on the voice. Anna has a natural upper extension and she does not have to force the top -- she does sometimes because while the voice is large ,it is soft-grained. I imagine that she will achieve a better blend as she gets the music worked into her voice.

        That said, I think that some singers who don’t have long upper extensions or who never figured how to access the head voice carry too much weight into the top -- which while thrilling for a while can lead to problems down the road -- Tebaldi, Maria, Millo, Stella.

        The issue that I have with Anna is that she occasionally “swims” thru the music (and the intonation can be quite iffy), especially in the first few performances. Usually, she gets better and more accurate over time. I think her first performances of some of the Verdi stuff were not good -- the Verdi album, the Red Square bolero, the early performances of LM. Later performances revealed dramatic improvement.

        I lover her singing here and think that this might be a perfect role for her. Honestly, I think this music suits her better than some of the Verdi roles she has planned for the future.

        And I agree, this is yards better than most others I have heard. She handles the intervals with confidence, the top is very secure and accurate, and there is a great deal of (admittedly generalized) emotion in the singing. The best Suicidio I have heard in ages. It will be interesting to hear her perform this with an orchestra.

        And hey, Kashie!

        • Hiya back, Luvt!

        • Rudkin

          Never figured out the head voice, are you serious? Millo had a high Eb sang them numerous times all over italy and here in New York. She still has a formidable high C just heard in recital in Toronto. She sang bel canto I thought really well, and yes, I am a Millo fan. I liked the tape of this aria from netrebko, just wish she wouldn’t hurry down this cheating high, while the high notes remain bright. Everyone loves to bury people. I will just enjoy and hope for more.

          • la vociaccia

            It’s very poorly worded to say “never figured out how to access the head voice,” especially in reference to Tebaldi who had an almost flawlessly organized voice when she was younger.

            The top issues that later came to haunt her (and which Beverley Johnson managed to help her with and extend her career somewhat) were related to breath management and tension, not how she was placing the notes.

            • luvtennis

              Sorry, but I hear Renata forcing the top and carrying too much weight up there throughout her career. She got away with it early on and didn’t as the voice aged. I suspect that hose other issues you mention were also contributing factors.

            • la vociaccia

              Forcing the top is a wholly separate thing from ‘not accessing the head voice.’

            • luvtennis

              That is not to say that these were not great singers. Just my speculation on why the experienced vocal problems at a comparatively young age.

            • mia apulia

              alas, only those of us who are of (ahem) a certain age ever heard Tebaldi sing like this in person; I myself did not have the good fortune to hear her in person until the Gioconda and then it was too late; and even this Butterfly is not the “perfection” some purists want to hear from younger singers--but it is so heart-breakingly expressive…..oh, my……..and my writing is getting worse and worse as I too age, filled with …. and —-, so I shall give up for the evening

          • luvtennis

            Uhh, being able to sing very high notes and easy access to the upper register without forcing are not at all the same thing. Souliotis could sing Ds.

  • orestes

    Ah, how the blind one sees! Just this morning I was listening to a Milanov Giaconda on Sirius and began to wonder when Netrebko would sing it. Sounds to me like the time is now. Thanks, la Cieca, for reading my mind.

  • Leontynes Weave

    To my ear Netrebko’s sound is not dark or rich, but swallowed. It’s all pressed down with the jaw and tongue in the middle voice and then spread to the point that it sounds like it’s going off the rails (wobbly vibrato) for the tip top. Her muscular approach to everything she sings is what has always given her phrasing a completely monochromatic hue. The sound has no spin or suppleness, which is what permitted the greatest technical singers to make such fantastic music by simply meaning the words and singing them with a true sound.

    As to whether or not she’ll last, what does that even mean? She’s just an older version of what she’s always been so the seams are showing a bit more, but so it goes. People who are impressed by wild gesticulating and facial contortions will continue to fawn over her, and those who have an ear for falsified tone colors and an eye for insincere “acting” meant to make up for a lack of a compelling artistic personality will continue to scratch their heads.

    • DonCarloFanatic

      Could you please explain what you mean by “lack of a compelling artistic personality”?

      • Leontynes Weave

        To be fair, the personality that comes across in the music is difficult to access accurately with so many obvious technical issues that could be causing a lot of her musical ideas to be lost in translation.

        But to my eye, her actions on stage do not read as “true.” They read as superficially entertaining, yet not in synergy with to a sincere connection to the emotional weight of what she is expressing. It’s as though she’s acting like she’s acting. It’s all razzle dazzle with no soul.

        • DonCarloFanatic

          That’s an interesting idea, but it sounds as if you’ve set the bar very high indeed. Who qualifies?

          Garanca is universally called icy in whatever role she essays. I’ve seen DiDonato really work the mannerisms that would make her a believable male in a trouser role, but does that count in your view? I could not possibly nominate Angela G; she is always herself playing whoever. Harteros comes across as sincere, but I’ve never seen any range with her; her portrayal in Forza is pretty much the same as that in Don Carlo.

          Kaufmann throws himself into everything, so I’d assume he makes the cut. How about Alagna? Does Peter Mattei make that sincerity connection?

          Certain movie actors have a narrow range; they always play themselves. Others are able to be different in different roles. But sincere? That’s a tough call.

          • Antonacci’s pretty convincing.

            • littoraldrift

              At her Alice Tully recital earlier this year the characterization was indeed amazing, as detailed as it could be w/out descending into outright mannerism. The way she differentiated the voices in “Le Tombeau des Naïades” gave my goosebumps.

            • She has a knack, it seems to me, of giving you the impression sh’s taking you into her confidence and almost making you forget she’s singing, not just talking to you.

          • armerjacquino

            DCF- I think in opera (and actually elsewhere, certainly in theatre) ‘playing oneself’ isn’t as much of a negative as you suggest. Gheorghiu is a perfect case in point. I think she’s a fine actor as Violetta, as Tosca and as Mimi (the three I’ve seen her do, either live or on video). Moment by moment she’s very truthful and I believe her. So although you’re right that there is always a sense of her personality there, that isn’t a deal-breaker to me. To convincingly express ‘this is how I would be if I had TB and had to give up my lover/ if I were a seamstress hearing my lover tell his friend I’m dying/ fighting with a sadist for my lover’s life’ is more important, I think, than ‘look at this gesture/expression which I as a person would never do, which shows I have Created A Character’. One of the classic pieces of drama school advice is ‘unless there’s a reason not to, why not play this character as yourself’?

            Obviously this isn’t a universally good idea but I’d rather have those detailed moments of truth than the more generalised ‘I’m happy now. Now I am sad. Now I am worried’ that you rightly point out with regard to eg Harteros.

        • phoenix


        • -Ed.

          Acting like she’s acting sums up my feelings about Anna, until I saw her in Eugene Onegin last year (was it last year?) when for the first time she pulled me in to her character. Before that, it was always just me watching gorgeous Anna doing something in a costume. lol Maybe that’s why the director put Tatiana’s bedroom out in that barn; she had to sleep in the woodshed until she started acting right.. I like what I’m hearing in this new aria for her, still a work in progress but I found it exciting and committed. And as someone else said, I’m glad she left the ghost of Only Maria the hell alone.

    • armerjacquino

      ‘People who like a singer I don’t like are idiots who are fooled by tricks. Also, the reason I don’t like her is because I am right’

      • Leontynes Weave

        Or you like a singer who is trendy at the moment and anyone who points out her vocal flaws is a snob.

        Having an informed opinion that goes against the beltway circle-jerking around a pet singer on this website does not make me a meanie pants boo-boo head.

        But Lord knows this website is ALWAYS full of completely fair-minded people who are far above making analyses of why they don’t like a particular singer.

        • PCally

          It’s funny how you can rip on other people’s tastes and opinions yet anyone who criticizes yours simply like “trendy singers” and aren’t to be listened to.

        • You want to take that down a notch? It’s one thing to criticize a singer but another to insult those who don’t share your opinion.

          • Leontynes Weave

            From a an October 11, 2012 discussion in which Fleming was nitpicked by Woolfe and Jorden (as always) despite Falk Struckmann being booed “playfully” at the opening night of Otello.

            Again, I’m terribly sorry I hurt your feelings by not being enthusiastic enough about your pet singer, but I’m not writing for a fan magazine, after all.

            From a May 23, 2014 discussion about the sexist review of Tara Erraught in which her “puppy fat” was given more notice than her singing.

            This notion that there has up until now been a universal attitude that “voice is everything” and that very obese singers have up until only recently been the standard in opera — that’s basically a provincial attitude, essentially isolated to the English-speaking world in the 20th century. This takes me rather far afield, and maybe I’ll address this idea again later, but I think this fetishization of fat singers is basically a camp attitude, a way of enjoying opera without buying into it as serious art.

            And then my personal favorite was your response on July 9, 2014 to a commenter who stated that stage directors that stage static operas in ways in complete contrast to the libretto and that cannot be used for a variety of body types should withdraw from the production.

            What happened was that starting about 30 or 40 years ago, certain grotesquely obese dramatic sopranos realized that nobody much was going to complain if they didn’t bother to act in this particular part. So all the fat girls flocked to it, and, voila, in a generation, a tradition was born that Ariadne is a fat lady who sits down all the time. And now, what with this venerable tradition reaching back all the way to the 1970s, it has become somehow heretical to attempt to stage Ariadne in any way except one in which the fat girl can sit down and do nothing all night.
            You’re making a tacit value judgment here, which is that the fat soprano’s whims are automatically and unquestionably always more important that the stage director’s ideas: no debate, no negotiation. If the fat girl doesn’t feel like doing it, then it’s the director’s job to change everything around to suit the adipose noise machine. The important thing is that you get to hear those beautiful noises you like so much, and those who go to the opera for any sort of dramatic experiences can just go fuck themselves.
            What I find most amusing here is your sniping at “certain body types” here. A 300 pound soprano is in the 98th percentile of body weight for adult American women. So you are saying that by default, all Ariadne productions have to be devised in order to suit the physical limitations (or, more to the point, the embarrassment about appearance) of the 2% as obese as Deborah Voigt was at the time of the Covent Garden fiasco.
            Surely the solution for this problem is to require stage directors to include a mobility scooter option in all their productions. I mean, isn’t it the most blatant sizeism to force Elektra or Turandot actually to walk out on stage, when she’d be so much more comfortable in a battery-powered scooter?

            And from two days ago on this very thread.

            Not everyone wants to be able to stun her friends and admirers with her perfectly preserved voice at the age of 65; some artists prefer to use the voice instead of hoarding it.

            So let’s see . . . if you don’t agree that Renée Fleming was stronger than another who was booed she’s your pet singer, if you think singing is paramount in opera that amounts to little more than provincial camp, and if you think a soprano—-Forgive me! I’m sorry! I meant an “adipose noise machine” who can sing the role of Ariadne auf Naxos should be prioritized over a stage director who is staging the opera at odds with the libretto is essentially the same as saying it’s sexist to not have women wheeled around on mobility scooters for the duration of operas. Oh! And if you think Netrebko’s voice is going in a bad direction it would be the result of greedily hoarding her voice, and the only outcome of that can be that she won’t be able to impress her friends at the age of 65

            Forgive me for breeching the parterre rules of decorum. I now realize that they are sacrosanct. I’ll do my best to remember that opinions of all singers, from Charlotte Church to Anna Netrebko to Deborah Voigt are to be treated with utmost respect since this is a venue in which condescension and petty insults are readily frowned upon. I’ll try especially hard to remember it when I read your next bi-monthy thread trashing Renée Fleming.

            Let’s try some honesty here. When it comes to unnecessary snark, you are almost always the primary culprit. If you want to comment on someone’s tone, you would do well shift your own if you expect to have any credibility.

            Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

            • If you’re so unhappy here, I suggest you find someplace else to hang out. The door will be open when you are ready to be civil. Until then, your posts are moderated.

            • Magpie

              Mostly agree with you….( And I love the moniker) I have read worse exchanges that did not result in being moderated..
              La Cieca, shouldn’t we all step back and gather some perspective?
              Now I’ll go back to either inflating one tire, or letting the air out of the other to keep my house and temperament level….

            • When parterre becomes a true democracy, Magpie, your vote will be counted.

        • la vociaccia

          I don’t think anyone has an issue with you criticizing Netrebko’s singing, or even picking apart any and every flaw you find in her singing.

          But this, right here:

          People who are impressed by wild gesticulating and facial contortions will continue to fawn over her, and those who have an ear for falsified tone colors and an eye for insincere “acting” meant to make up for a lack of a compelling artistic personality will continue to scratch their heads.

          Is just uncalled for, and you know it.

          • armerjacquino

            Exactly. The original post stated very clearly that anyone who likes Netrebko is being fooled. That’s just childish.

            The latest response is so aggressive and so defensive that I don’t know where to start.

            • manou

              What can possibly be childish about “meanie pants boo-boo head”?

            • LT

              manou, don’t give him a starting point :D

  • Here’s the thing. I think at this point Gioconda might challenge Netrebko less than, say, Iolanta. Her voice has simply thickened (and the vibrato loosened) so exposed lyrical passages make her sound matronly. But a role heavily reliant on theatrics and “exciting” singing might be very, well, exciting.

    I noticed this in the clips from Mexico City. “La mamma morta” sounded great. Ripe voice, exciting singing. “Song to the Moon” sounded strained, off pitch, and that wobble was there. I think verismo is a step in the right direction for her.

    • scifisci

      I was at her last performance of Iolanta at the Met and didn’t hear any difficulties that you mention. She was in especially glorious voice though (as was piotr--somehow the top has opened up in recent years!), and their duet had so much glorious singing and excitement, eliciting an equally thrilling response from the audience. It was something really special I think, although netrebko is a singer who is consistently able to give me that “performance high” with her combination of voice, intensity, and fearlessness. But yes, I do agree that she shouldn’t be singing the little girl roles anymore, unless she sings them with her big girl voice.

      • Well I was there opening night and this is very much what I remember hearing:

        She might have improved in later performances. But I stand by the assertion that at this point in her career the thickness and heaviness in her middle register make the lyrical roles like Iolanta a challenge probably more than, say, Tosca would.

        • Porgy Amor

          She might have improved in later performances.

          I saw the HD Iolanta, and your review of opening night could have applied there. I had to go back to the Baden-Baden video to get a sense of why this was ever a good idea. As I said at the time, the Met version of that production provided dreary contrast in several of the specifics, although Markov was good in both, and Beczala was fine (I preferred Skorks in the 2009).

  • uwsinnyc


    I loved her in the role but do agree with you re: the matronly quality and the loosening of the vibrato. but for all her flaws, I still think of her as the “full package” soprano of the day-- generally good musician, mega-glamorous voice, and stage presence in spades.

    • I agree, she’s an incredible total package but her voice really has changed. For instance I think right now Norina might challenge her more than, say, Manon Lescaut. Just because the thickness and heaviness in her voice seem here to stay.

      • Satisfied

        I think the virtuosity of the role will be her biggest challenge with Norma. I’m still not sure why she’s gunning for the part. Manon L, Elsa, and Aida I understand (and cannot wait to see each)…but Norma?

        • Satisfied

          Quick aside, but looking at my list, it only became too apparent that I prefer her in dramatic soprano roles, and would add Gioconda to her series of awesome choices.

          I got to thinking of her career 10 to 15 years from now. Salome and Marie anyone? I would add Cassandre to that list, but she’s never shown herself comfortable with French rep. Otherwise she would tear the hell out of the part (and before I’m asked: yes, that’s a good thing).

          • armerjacquino

            In 15 years she’ll be 59. I’m not sure Salome would be that wise a choice, for a number of reasons… ;-)

            • manou

              I do hope no-one will stoop so low as to make a joke about seven whales.

            • Satisfied

              Hadn’t realized she was 44! I would have thought late 30s at latest :-/

              Well…update my proposal by 10 or 11 years and I’ll stand by it :-)

            • stevey

              Manou, when I was younger and more crass, I used to remark about Caballe having to do the Dance of the Seven Veils with comforters.

              Thankfully, I grew out of such insensitivity… ;-)

          • uwsinnyc

            oh yes, I have been thinking for a while she should sing Salome.
            But I would say she’s ready for that NOW- not in 15 years.
            She has the gleam in the voice for the role.

        • LT

          I imagine her Norma to be in the Dimitrova mold (with more intonation issues and less accurate coloratura)

          *ducking for cover*

          • I’m so tired of the Norma thing already. Huh. Nobody can sing it at this time. Nobody really could since Papian could sing it well, somthing like 15 years ago? And she was the only one left and it was still something like 65% of what the role should really be. I hope they will give the role a rest for a while. Meade could sing it for all I care, I love my singers to hit some kind of pitch anyway (ducking). Just leave the role be, maybe in 10 years somebody is going to show up. Maybe Mona has Norma in her, at least vocally, I don’t really care. It’s an armchair opera for me anyway, I’m quite content with recordings.

            I’d wish Nebs could be persuaded to sing Tosca. That’d be fun, as much as I loathe the opera itself.

            • Bluebeard

              Ok, then let’s also stop with the idea that nobody can sing Norma ;) :

              In the past fifteen years, Papian could do it in smaller houses (a friend played me some of her very first Norma in Poland twenty years ago, and it’s pretty extraordinary). Devia’s not definitive, but no doubt she can do it well. I’m still nowhere near convinced of Meade’s Norma, but no doubt she can sing it. RADVANOVSKY clearly can, and she has the right weight (unlike Meade) and cut (unlike Papian’s soft-grained voice, gorgeous as it has always been) for the part. Though I don’t love Monastyrska, she could do a very respectable performance, which I’m sure she will in Houston in the near future. Based on her Vepres outings, Haroutounian could probably do it. Though van den Heever’s Donna Anna was a misfire, I liked her Elisabetta very much and would be interested in her Norma. I haven’t heard Agresta live yet, but she seems like she’d be a very lyrical Norma.

              I really refuse to believe that we don’t have great singers in this repertoire now. Sure, we might not have Callas, Gencer, or Sutherland now, but we seem to be living in an age of excellent lyrical interpreters of baroque and bel canto (where the next generation of Verdi baritones or basses, for instance, is MIA). So though I’d rather hear Netrebko in at least five other roles (none of them Italian even), why not have her sing Norma? In some ways, I’d think of it as a friendlier role for her than Lady Macbeth is.

  • I think she sounds great in this. It’s a passionate account of the aria. The chest voice is very impressive. And best of all, she has a achieved grandezza (my favourite thing!).

    • Hey, what’s a grandezza and where does she achieve it? :)

      • In short, grandezza is grandeur. I’d say that it is both physical and musical.

        Physically, a singer has grandezza by the way they carry themselves on stage, the way they can command the audience with a single gesture of the hand.

        Musically, it is about the command of the musical line and architecture. It’s the way a singer shapes and phrases the music. It can be the ability to hold the audience in the palm of one’s by gradually making one’s way through a long phrase. But mostly, I denote grandezza when I hear a certain grandeur in the phrasing, as I do with Netrebko here.

        To me, she’s always had the potential for it but is only lately achieving it. Her singing has always been musical but she has never displayed the command of line that she has in the last year or two.

        • Cocky Kurwenal

          For me, grandezza is what can result when there is a total lack of inhibition -- total self-belief, zero admission that one’s approach could be questioned, absolute self-assurance. It’s amazing what it takes to produce a full out top note in an aria like this and it can take a very, very long time to get comfortable enough with what one’s voice can do to really let go. I’m speaking from the psychological point of view -- long after the body is able to make the noise, the incessantly self-policing brain of the singer can still struggle to keep pace and just do it without worrying about it. Unless you have that total conviction and absence of any insecurity about it, one feels that what one is doing is somehow unseemly. Netrebko has never seemed like she lacked confidence exactly, but it is extremely striking just how much more voice has materialised in recent years -- I do wonder if she might have been spending some time getting used to what she could actually produce, and coming to believe that it was as good as everybody said it was. Whether any of those factors have been at play for her or not, I do agree with Kashania that in this Suicidio! there is a new willingness to own the voice and the music -- grandezza, if you like.

          • manou
            • Cocky Kurwenal


          • phoenix

            Kurwenal, what is more exciting: grandezza or throwing caution to the winds? At any rate,

          • Cocky: First, it’s great to see you back here again. I agree completely that grandezza requires confidence and self assurance. My favourite proponents of grandezza, like Callas, Price and Norman, all exhibited complete confidence — not just in their abilities but their interpretations.

          • mjmacmtenor

            As a voice teacher, I agree totally. That balance of using enough energy and also “letting it go” with no constriction or holding back is very challenging to achieve, even for the best students. The type A personalities that are highly motivated to get things “right” have the most trouble. They cannot turn off the “little voice” in their head that is always judging themselves. It’s like diving. You can’t wait until you do a good dive to “let it go”; you have to “let it go” in order to achieve a good dive.


          • I feel like this is the epitome of grandezza. There’s an absolute confidence that she is showing off the very best the human throat can offer. Each trill sounds like a shout of joy. You are aware of the amazing control that must have gone behind such displays yet everything is musical, tied to the melody, and the listener is just along for the happy ride. Amazing.

            • LT

              Could she have gotten this confidence after drinking copious amounts of “l’elisir d’amore”?

            • Lol. LT her throat definitely sounds warmed up!

        • Thank you for explaining.

  • mjmacmtenor

    For La G fans -- Sirius XM is playing a met broadcast from 1946 this week -- Richard Tucker, Leonard Warren, Rise Stevens, and Mme. Milanov (zinka’s idol). It is on again tonight at midnight and Saturday morning at 9;00.

  • Cuban_Stallion

    I think it sounds pretty damn good. I do not hear the vibrato, tessitura or passaggio issues that others have raised; out of curiosity, when has a chest voice ever sounded natural? Granted, it is difficult to judge either way because the recording quality sucks. But the most important question is: did Anna know that this was being recorded and would be made available for public consumption/dissection? For example, if it was a private rehearsal or a private performance (we do not know because it immediately fades out at the end), I think we can safely assume that she would have different objectives in mind than those when laying down a track for posterity. So assuming she did not know she was being recorded, well, it makes this even sound better to my ears. I cannot wait to hear this dal vivo. What an exciting singer.

    • scifisci

      Judging by those clunkers in the admittedly clunky piano part, I would say (or hope) that this is most definitely a rehearsal.

  • Amnerees

    Who exactly in the Norma clip is supposed to be exhibiting “grandezza”? This sounds like a pretty typical Caballe effort without too many of those glottal glugs that characterized much of her singing. Her gestures are studied and predictable. This is grandezza? One hopes Netrebko never gets there.