Cher Public

Anna behind bars

Anna Netrebko adds yet another veristic aria to her burgeoning repertoire: “L’altra notte in fondo al mare” from Boito’s Mefistofele.  

(From a concert August 27 at the Beiteddine Festival. Orchestra: Filarmonica Gioachino Rossini Orchestra; Conductor: Marco Boemi.)

  • phillyoperalover

    oh how nice.

  • vilbastarda

    So dark, so beautiful. My preference is the darker, the better.

    The hand gestures reminded me of this diva: . I couldn’t find the non-obstructed video, but you can still get an idea.

    • kennedet

      I must say I get a little concerned about Netrebko. Make no mistake that I can’t think of a more exciting singer in the world today but she has sung almost “everything” in all of the soprano registers and my concern is about her over using her instrument. She probably has vocal pedagogues that guide her but singers have overused their instruments in the past and begin to show signs of decline and vocal problems begin to shorten their careers.

      • Bill

        Kennedet -- from more recent videos of Nebrebko doing various arias, it seems her voice is not quite as steady as it used to be -- I am beginning to wonder if she will be as excellent as Elsa as I first thought when (a few years ago) it was discussed that she was considering the role for Dresden and for
        Bayreuth but the voice now seems somewhat huskier and a little less focused. I am sure she will be fine in Adriana and she will emote appropriately but both Norma and Aida are more taxing vocally and Elsa does require a certain purity of tone that she may slowly be losing. .
        There is no question that she is one of the most
        sought after stars at the moment and that she is
        immensely popular particularly in Austria and Germany but I am just a little fearful for her voice in the long range future -- One does appreciate her exuberance for life to be sure -- it is infectious.

        • kennedet

          Time always tell, Bill. The bottom in many cases is the first to go. Vocal technique and all of its ramifications will continue to be the “bane of existence” in any vocal discussion regarding voice production. However, voice classification is still very important.

        • armerjacquino

          What *is* the ‘long range future’ where Netrebko is concerned? If most other soprano careers are anything to go by, she’s got about ten years left at the top. How careful do you want her to be?

      • Netrebko has been singing for right at 20 years now and she spent most of that time singing precisely what the worrywarts always prescribe for young sopranos, i.e., Mozart and bel canto. She has branched out into fuller lirico-spinto repertoire only very recently and thus far the only genuinely “heavy” parts she has performed remain Manon Lescaut, Leonora and Lady Macbeth, and all these operas she programs sparingly. She has hardly sung “almost everything;” basically she has remained rather solidly in the lyric soprano fach with a tendency toward lighter parts. She maintains a generally conservative schedule without a lot of jetting around or alternating between roles, and she devotes most of each summer to relatively undemanding concert appearances.

        I’ve said this before, but an artist just can’t spend her whole life worrying about “oh if I sing this aria just one time I’ll lose my voice forever.” Or rather, what’s the point of her worrying when her listeners worry so much more intensely?

        • ML

          Your main point is well taken, Cieca, but … not sure about “most of that time”: also complete roles of Berlioz, Glinka, Prokofiev in the 1990s; Bizet, Gounod, Kálmán, Massenet, Offenbach, Prokofiev, Puccini, Tchaikovsky and Verdi since then. Her 14 “sparingly” programmed Leonoras become 29 next season. She must jet around. “Devotes most of each summer to relatively undemanding concert appearances,” if you ignore Salzburg, Munich and next summer Berlin.

          • Yes, and we all recall the old saying, “She had such a beautiful voice until she ruined it singing all that Massenet and Kálmán.”

            • ML

              She steers her career well, as you indicated, and the voice has been in lustrous form this month.

      • quoth the maven

        When I saw her in the Salzburg Trovatore earlier this month, the voice sounded as free and firm as I’d ever heard it.

        • ML

          +1

        • Bill

          Maven -- all Netrebkos reviews from the Salzburg
          Trovatores were absolute raves -- she will also
          do Leonora in Vienna the season 2016-17 -- probably a new production for they desperately need one. What surprised me was that for 2014-15
          she returned to Anna Bolena in Zurich and Wien and
          all reports were very positive. Kalman never ruined anyone’s voice and Netrebko, had she chosen that route, would have been a smashing operetta
          star to be sure.

          • redbear

            She’s doing Trovatore at the Paris Opera Jan/Feb in a new production by Alex Olle (of Fura dels baus}.

      • Greg.Freed

        …begin to show signs of decline and vocal problems begin to shorten their careers.

        But I mean she’s been singing for 20 years. Why be cautious? Callas’ main career was, what, 10 years? (1949-1960ish?) I’m no vocal coach, but even if Anna is doing too much, I assume she could sing as she is now for another five years at least given that the top up to C is in good working order and perhaps sing some later-career roles for a while after that. I can’t see much cause for concern. And the great thing is that her career is really well documented, so I can be absolutely awful to young opera queens in ten years, if there are any, and say “well it was even better in the house.”

        • kennedet

          Why be cautious? So she can sing another 20 years, that’s why. You raise an excellent point Greg Freed. Who consciously would want a 10 year career?! This is what happens when you sing in every fach known to man.I am a vocal coach and I have experienced most voices growing richer as they age but I don’t believe they should change their voice classification. A true coloratura does have richer qualities as she ages but I don’t believe she magically turns into a spinto unless she was misclassified initially. I know there will be many examples of famous singers to contradict my statement but this has been my training and experience and I believe in it . Fame is not necessarily proof of validity. Range is just a part of classification.

          • armerjacquino

            So what do you want Netrebko to be singing at 64? And how are her current choices negating these brilliant performances she’d be giving after 40 years?

            • kennedet

              Whatever she wants to sing if she’e performing at 64. Who said anything about negating her current brilliant performances?

            • armerjacquino

              Read it again. I didn’t say anything about negating her current performances.

          • armerjacquino

            Who consciously would want a 10 year career?!

            Certainly not Netrebko, who has already been singing at the highest level for 20 years, and who (despite the people making their bird-entrail predictions in this thread) is by general consent singing better than she ever has.

            • kennedet

              Typical Armer, why don’t you engage in a sensible discussion instead of trying to satisfy your need for anger and verbal abuse when you have an opposing view.

            • armerjacquino

              Which part of what I said was angry or abusive?

              Your post was pretty abusive, however, which is a nice piece of irony.

          • steveac10

            So by your terms, Flagstad should have stuck to Fledermaus and Faust for the balance of her career and never ventured into the Wagner repertory?

            And I would also wonder just how long you want Netrebko’s career to last? Is 30 years on the international scene not enough for you. The last thing I want to see is an Adina or Gilda who qualifies for Medicare.

            • kennedet

              Steveac, you misunderstood my post.

              You’re second paragraph smacks of ageism.I won’t reply to it.

          • vilbastarda

            I do think she has arrived to her true fach. To my ears she has never been a light lyric, her voice has always been that of a lyrico-spinto. She didn’t have the necessary technique, breath freedom, and support up until now to be able to be an outstanding lyrico-spinto, but the voice had that quality since day one. I was always shocked that people heard her as a light lyric soprano.

            And yes, there are too many voice teachers that misjudge, and misclassify their students, and many beautiful voices are forever ruined that way, especially heavier voices that are forced to sing repertory that is too light, many can never re-learn to sing with their true voice.

            • kennedet

              +1. I never heard Netrebko as a lyric coloratura during her young career. That doesn’t take away from her wonderful performances of the roles.

  • aulus agerius

    Operanews.com now has ‘The Year in Opera’ available which is very helpful. I’ve planned a trip to FL for Legnano and then Ariadne with AWagner & KKim in March. Then another in April for Turco in Albuquerque followed by a long lovely train ride and Les Fetes Venitiennes at BAM. Would like to do a ‘new’ opera trip in May with Great Scot and The Shining but it won’t work with Amleto which is a lot closer and more likely to please. All new to me except for the Strauss.

    • laddie

      You might want to run over to Philadelphia and catch “Cold Mountain” in February. I have seen Amleto and, well, I hope you like it more than I did.

  • DerLeiermann
  • Magpie

    Is it the aspect of my monitor, or am I the only one who sees
    the elephant in the room…. Her.
    Is she getting huge or what?
    Loved the aria though, hysterics and everything.

    • armerjacquino

      Huge? Yeah, I’d change your monitor. She’s a woman in her mid-forties who is maybe a stone overweight.

    • Cicciabella

      It’s the kaftan-like dress, a shape that makes anyone who’s not a stick insect look slightly heavier. Netrebko looks great for her age, or any age for that matter. The soft pink is very becoming on her, and she hasn’t put on weight. My grandparents would have admired her curves and called her a fine specimen of a woman: nowadays everyone has to look like an Medieval ascetic. Also, the character has just accidentally poisoned her mother, gone mad and killed her newborn baby. All things considered, the “hysterics” were very modest.

      • DonCarloFanatic

        Nobody wears a caftan for a concert performance unless they have to, and certainly not a woman so conscious of her sex appeal as AN. I do think she has gained more weight. However, she’s singing so well that if she’s happy, we should relax.

        My fear actually is that she will suddenly see herself in the mirror of time, and do a drastic diet that messes up her voice. Zaftig is safer. If she wants to glide into late middle age looking matronly, that is her choice.

  • ML

    The Beiteddine Festival? The Lebanese afford Anna while their Syrian neighbors perish or flee for E.U. help.

    • redbear

      America affords her and one out of 30 kids in school are homeless, 130 families fund half of all donations to political parties, blacks are routinely murdered by police who are not punished, the infrastructure is dangerous, on average there is one mass shooting every day this year, etc.

      • ML

        Yes, alas.

    • armerjacquino

      ‘If there is a humanitarian crisis in a neighbouring country the arts should be cancelled’

      Well, it’s an opinion, I suppose.

      • moritz

        The Lebanon with an aera about half the size of Wales and a population of around 4,4 million took in more than 1,2 million Syrian refugees so far.

        It’s indeed astonishing that the country nevertheless still manages to host a festival like Beiteddine while the EU claims to be on the verge of a general break down because of a number of refugees which was according to Amnesty International for the last three years altogether 715 times less.

        (And just to make it clear: disgusting I find Europe’s asylum policy, not the fact that the Beiteddine Festival took place.)

        • ML

          Well that is certainly Lebanon doing its part, if true.

    • LT

      She charges pennies compared to pop “stars”.

  • The Conte

    A very good performance. It’s a touch cold emotionally for me, but her voice really suits this aria at this stage and I love her pianissimi and dark tones.

  • mercadante

    I love the direction she’s going: Gioconda, Aida, Trovatore, Mefistofele are all great for her dark spinto voice and her temperament . She should add Ernani, Tosca, Thais, Fedora and Knaz Igor while she’s at it. Bring a dose of glamour to those roles.

  • mercadante

    Looking closer at the video, she looks beautiful. But that v neck caftan and earrings are unflattering , make her look bigger than she is, and as if she and Seal and Sadie are going to the early bird buffet in Ft. Lauderdale.

    • messa di voce

      Actually, I think it’s a good look for her -- hot summer nights in the casbah.

  • Cocky Kurwenal

    Very good performance -- even the trills! It sounded a little pressed in places but then it’s dramatic repertoire. I wouldn’t personally be worrying about the Elsas. She’s always been able to use her voice in different ways depending on the role in question.

    A rare style mis-step for Trebs though -- is she wearing the earrings or are they wearing her? A softer hair-do would have helped too.

    • Porgy Amor

      I don’t know about “rare style misstep.” In the Eyvazov years, she seems to be defining a new normal. The hair is a bit “Tebaldi drag” (Karajan Aida album cover period).

      I listened to the Mefistofele aria a second time, as I seemed to be hearing a different performance from most here. I have to stick to my first impression: I don’t think this is good at all. I’m hearing all sorts of difficulties with balance, emission, and intonation, as well as contrivances to approximate the dynamics at both extremes. That’s on top of the usual things with her that I’ve always lived with (short-windedness, mushy projection of the text). It sounds as though she knows what she wants to do, but is up against a voice without the pliancy, steadiness, or range of color for her to bring it off.

      • Dolciamente Pipo

        A little late to the game, but I have to say I agree with you. This sounds labored and unmusical to my ears. Like heavy lifting. As if the only concern were cranking out oceans of sound. I don’t think this is so much a case of singing outside of her fach, as just singing poorly. I’m not an Anna hater, but I do feel that she phones it in about half the time. She is so opulently gifted and can do much better.

  • I haven’t heard this aria yet but I must say I’m baffled by the concerns about Netrebko taking on too much too soon. Few major singers today have expanded their repertoire as carefully as she has.

    There’s also the fact that her voice has changed tremendously since she first came on the scene. It is a much bigger and more dramatic instrument than it used to be. So, aside from developing her rep carefully, there’s the fact that she is responding to her changing voice. In fact, many (including I) have complained that she kept singing the -ina roles with a too-heavy voice.

  • Porgy Amor

    Re: Singing everything/singing too much/singing widely varying rep. Ho to the Met performance database and check out Florence Easton’s engagements within a random year. You might see everything from Mozart (the theater’s first Fiordiligi) to the heaviest Wagner, with points in between including Bizet and Massenet, verismo, R. Strauss, and roles created in now-forgotten new operas within various idioms. She was not some streaking comet, either. By most accounts she was really good for a long time, and still had a lot left at her final Walküre. I don’t know if there is anyone around today so comparably wide-ranging, but there would be a lot of fretting, and patronizing complaints about how “she doesn’t know what kind of artist she wants to be” and “she needs to learn how to say no,” I am sure.

    • armerjacquino

      Steber sang Fiordiligi and Desdemona on the same day, Ponselle sang the FORZA Leonora at 21… you get the feeling that some people here would be tut-tutting at them both and saying they should be spending 20 years going no further than Lauretta.

    • rapt

      Interestingly, re Easton, Ponselle mockingly reported the presumably derisive nickname for Easton, “the washerwoman”--i.e., I suppose, because she metaphorically took in everyone else’s washing--suggesting that it’s not only “today” that such condescension exists.

      • messa di voce

        Source for that? It just doesn’t sound like Ponselle to me. I can more easily imagine Alda or Jeritza coming out with that barb.

        • rapt

          I don’t have the book at hand, but I believe it was James Drake’s biography of Ponselle. I seem to recall that there was an earlier as-told-to biography, and the biography I read added details from her interviews that didn’t make it into the authorized version. All I remember for sure is that I read it (years ago) in a biography from the local university library, and Drake’s and Mary Jane Phillips-Matz’s, both from 1997, are the only ones I find listed in the library catalogue.

        • Krunoslav

          I recall another Ponselle denigration of Easton’s virtuosity, saying how , yes, maybe she could sing everything but maybe not so excitingly. Of course, Easton sometimes subbed for Ponselle when the latter was terrified or high-note challenged… and was sometimes though not always found superior by critics-- in OBERON for one.

      • Gualtier M

        I think it was Maria Muller who Ponselle didn’t like who she called the washerwoman. Ponselle also wasn’t crazy about Easton of whom she said that when you sing all those different roles they all start to sound the same.

        • Krunoslav

          Maria [horses neigh offstage] Müller

  • rapt

    Gualtier, your comment rings a bell (though sounding dimly, muffled as it is by the cobwebs of age). I haven’t had a chance to consult the source (which I’m now certain is Drake’s 1997 biography), but it is indeed possible that my memory (or what’s left of it) may have conflated Ponselle’s responses to these two singers.

    • Gualtier M

      It was in the Drake centenary edition of the Ponselle bio in one of the first person interview sections. Drake wrote an authorized version during Ponselle’s lifetime and then after Rosa was no longer around, Drake added corrections, hard biographical data she omitted and dish that didn’t make it into the original edition. Would that other biographies and biographers did the se thing.

      • Gualtier M

        Same thing…typing on an iPhone

      • messa di voce

        Thanks for clarifying.

  • Camille

    And lastly: did anyone stop to think before commenting on the caftan that she is in offing LEBANON, it is SUMMER, and that looks to me like one very expensive piece of merchandise, which probably allows for her to keep COOL whilst singing in god knows what temperatures?

    Anna Netrebko is not the same Playboy Bunny Doll that broke on the scenesyears ago, nor does she sing the same repertory and to that I just say Thank you G-tt, that there is no more Adinas! If I could, and I can’t, I’d be right there alongside die Feldmarschallin next year, or whenever, when she sings that Elsa in Dresden.

    Basta, Roberti!

    • Camille

      That’s Eff-ing Lebanon, not offing.

      Damn autocorrect!#$*%($)%*$()%*%()$!!!!!!!!

    • Camille

      Caftans being as normal in Lebanon as torn leather jackets are/were in the East Village, parkas in Alaska, bikinis in California, fur coats on the Upper East Side, is what I intended to say. Or, basta.

  • Divas, They’re Just Like Us: Anna loses (and retrieves) an earring whilst singing Kálmán.

  • redbear

    An Austrian newspaper has her and Roberto in Lohengrin at Bayreuth in 2018.