Cher Public

Questa donna conoscete?

Last week Anna Netrebko sang in concert Violetta’s first act aria from La traviata, an opera she will return to her repertoire at La Scala on Thursday of this week. You can hear that concert performance after the jump. 

  • Sanford Schimel

    Lugubrious Ah, Quel amor. Interesting to compare this to Sonya Yoncheva whom I just saw at the Met. Yoncheva wins.

  • A. Ames

    alas, much as I love Trebs, hardly a single note is on pitch — or remains on pitch. Send her back to skool!

    • QuantoPainyFakor

      Must have been recorded in a pickle barrel! Her tones bloom so well but they are false. I’d love to show her some pitch correction software. Are her close friends afraid to tell her these things? She sounds like a dog in the famous measures most singers bluff. So what! She can laugh all the way to the bank before returning the loans from Chopard.

  • ines

    A very healthy sounding Violetta… but despite some intonation problems very impressive singing.
    Let’s not forget that Ailyn Perez started this run at La Scala and has had a big success.

    • Camille

      Interesting to think that in 2009 Netrebko was the A Violetta at San Francisco with Ms. Pérez one of the alternates.

  • questocor

    Is her husband the Alfredo? I hope they do this when I see them together in concert in Los Angeles in a few months.

    • Camille

      It is almost certainly him.

  • Rick

    I really like Ms Netrebko’s timbre. But I find the interpolated high note at the end of “Ah forse lui” somewhat misguided (and unnecessary as there are so many high notes to come) -- and it also starts very, very flat. I am quite impressed that Ms Netrebko still manages the high notes in the Sempre Libera so well -- and coloratura is (imho) perfectly acceptable.

    • I’ve hated the interpolated high note (C?) at the end of “A forse lui” ever since I heard Sills do it. I love high notes and all but that one always feels fake.

      It’s amazing the extreme reactions Netrebko inspires. I agree with you. She sounds good and managed the coloratura quite decently. People forgave Tebaldi’s first act for her second and third. There’s nothing to forgive here for Netrebko and I’m sure she’ll be great in the second and third acts.

  • Degan

    OMG. I love Netrebko but Traviata was on the edge 10 years ago, now it is past her… Sloppy tempo, bad coloratura, flat througout (not one of the Cs and Ds were on pitch). This is the worst I heared Netrebko since her under pitched Lucia.
    Why is she doing this??? The only one who comes to mind is the attempt of Violetta by Guleghina…
    Yoncheva (not ideal here either) is a universe far away form this!

    • Francisco Alejandro Salazar

      please don’t compare this to the great guleghina. They are not remotely close in voice nor approach. Guleghina never the agility in this aria that netrebko shows in this. Yes its not completely on pitch but she gets through. Guleghina was great in her repertoire but Traviata was a bit of a stretch.

  • Olivero Fan

    Well that was a lusty sing. I think I could sit through this in order to hear what she will do with acts 2,3,and 4.

  • Yige Li

    Violetta was the role sung by Rosa Ponselle, Eleanor Steber, Licia Albanese, Renata Tebaldi, Maria Callas, Leyla Gencer, Antonietta Stella, Gabriella Tucci, Maria Chiara.

    And now, some people say the role is past Anna Netrebko?

    • Ramon Figueroa

      But you didn’t go to most of these for the first act. Ponselle had a rather had time with the first act, and so did Tebaldi, especially as time went on. But after that they were devastating. I am no true fan of Netrebko, but aside from a few intonation issues, she still has the scene at her command, especially considering the repertoire she is doing these days.

      • Ramon Figueroa

        The only perfect Violetta voice I have ever heard is Sutherland. Size, coloratura, beauty of tone, she had it all, except the temperament to bring out the tragedy of it. Ruth Ann Swenson had potential for a little while, but again, no real dramatic insight. Oh, and Scotto was a near perfect Violetta.

  • CwbyLA

    If she sings like this at La Scala, she will be booed.

    • PCally

      Well almost literally every Violetta since Callas has been booed at La Scala, including legends like Freni and one of the most acclaimed Violetta’s a recent times Gheorghiu.

      I agree though, this is a pretty weak performance of an aria that was never really her strongest suit even when she was singing the role regularly

      • Camille

        Damrau wasn’t booed but her tenor was.
        Being booed at La Scala doesn’t mean a thing.

        • CwbyLA

          Well, she IS Anna Netrebko so I think the expectations are high. I don’t know if she agreed to sing this 5 at La Scala 5 years ago but if she recently agreed to do it, it is a mistake. I am pretty certain though her singing in subsequent acts will be spectacular.

  • Rick

    I just listened again -- and I must have very bad ears. Because I do not hear the same “horror-fest” that CwbyLA, Degan and others hear. No, it is not perfect singing (and, as I mentioned, the interpolated high note at the end of “ah, forse lui” starts off embarrasingly flat) -- but she gets through it, the basic timbre is impressive, her notes are not (as least not for ordinary persons lime me) realy off pitch, the coloratura is not dazzling but it is there -- and the part is NOT a coloratura part so I think she will be OK at La Scala and next year in Paris.

  • Rowna Sutin

    People listening to great singing sometimes forget the following: each voice is completely individual -- what it can do, how it sounds, its size, etc. Ms Netrebko has a fantastic instrument in size, beauty and her control is awesome. So the fact is that she sounds nothing like Yoncheva or any other name mentioned here is irrelevant. Like it or don’t on its own merit. To me -- so much to admire. This is thrilling singing TO ME. If you don’t like it that is OK. Picking apart her coloratura is inane. Yes. One note was very off pitch at the beginning, but then she got it to go right to its center. How hard is that! My rant is officially over. Have a great day.

    • Camille

      Join my new club: “The Ranty Aunties”.

      Trying to convince La Cieca of the necessity of a monthly (weekly?) Rant Column, like the good old days on Parterre. (Reader’s Rant, as it was sometimes called).

      Well stated, Mrs. Rowna. You get this week’s
      Mensch Award, at any rate.

      • Rowna Sutin

        Thanks! And if there is a rant space I will have to be monitored.

        • Camille

          La Cieca will have special muzzles at the ready for those of us who tip overboard, she says.

          Is there any chance Señor Nelson is going to get a break again, do you know?

          Row--you said on the chat he SWAM over from Cuba? I used to hear about that in the seventies, for sure, but hadn’t known about it happening in recent years. Wow.

          • Rowna Sutin

            Will report any new Martinez news in the pipeline. You will be the first to know. Re swimming: let me verify. Pls write to me @

  • Olivero Fan

    Why does it have to be Yoncheva or Netrebko? We have them BOTH.

  • Evenhanded


    This is pretty amazing, given the heavy, thick vocal production now favored by Ms. Netrebko. Unwisely, I read the comments before listening and expected some sort of disaster (though I can’t imagine La C sharing it, had that been true). To me, it sounds like a flawed reading by a first class voice; in other words not dissimilar to *most* readings of this aria. It is terribly difficult, and few have been able to truly meet most or all of its demands.

    My question to the other commentators is this: why is it so difficult to allow for flaws? Do you restrict yourself only to recordings that near perfection (if this is even possible)? What in the world is wrong with a great singer traversing an aria imperfectly? If you truly listen to the other greats from the past (and present!) you can find plentiful flaws in just about all of their performances. Perhaps Netrebko’s flaws are more egregious to you for some reason?

    And then there is the hyperbole: “flat througout (not one of the Cs and Ds (sic) were on pitch)”. This is utterly false and apparently written in haste, hysteria, or an effort to make a strong statement. Let’s be real: singers are not machines. For God’s sake enjoy the performance if you can, and if not, then move along. And if you’re going to comment, at least listen carefully. With the exception of Ms. Foster Jenkins, most singers aren’t all bad.

    • Armerjacquino

      The acoustic is such that anyone who can be definitive about pitching is probably coming from a place of confirmation bias anyway.

    • Degan

      As I said I love Netrebko’s voice. But a long time ago in Salzburg, she was far from perfect in Sempre libera. Now it is worse.
      IMO Sempre Liberia is one of the most difficult pieces of music in operatic history, maybe even more difficult than Abigaille or Lady M. It calls for a lyrico-spinto soprano (no coloratura soprano) with fast coloratura, legato, agility, secure middle and very good top notes up to a D (or Eb).
      Most Violettas are judged by acts 2 and 3, when most viewers and critics forgot about the problems in act 1.
      That said I would point out just a few in history who come close to a very good Sempre libera: first and foremost Maria Callas, Virginia Zeani, Angela Gheorghiu (with Solti).
      Yoncheva and Netrebko are beautiful voices, everyone of them has her own strengths, but they both have problems getting through Sempre libera. IMO Yoncheva is better than Netrebko at the moment and I do not want to judge he whole performance by Sempre libera.
      But here we are talking about this aria and I am not very happy with Netrebkos attempt…

      • Luvtennis


    • CwbyLA

      “why is it so difficult to allow for flaws?”
      Try doing that for Renee Fleming on this site and you will find the answer :-)

    • Kullervo

      “Let’s be real: singers are not machines. For God’s sake, enjoy the performance of you can, and if not, then move along.”

      Oh, come on. Don’t act like you haven’t climbed up on this comments section specifically to negatively comment on a performance. We all do it.

      But this is puzzling:

      “Perhaps Netrebko’s flaws are more egregious to you for some reason?”

      Actually, that whole paragraph is bizarre and loaded with straw men.
      Why does anyone dislike a performance? Usually it’s because the flaws add up to a product that doesn’t appeal to you. Not because the flaws simply *exist.*

      Leonie Rysanek was massively flawed but I love her, as an artistic package. Some people can’t get past the flaws and I accept that, wholeheartedly. I certainly don’t launch into a diatribe about how Everyone Is Flawed So Get Over It.

      • Evenhanded


        I’m sorry you would describe my post as a “diatribe”, and I don’t think it reads that way, but thanks for expressing your opinion. To respond to a couple of your points: first, you imply that I (along with “we all”) comment on negative aspects of a performance. Of course I do -- and I almost always comment on positive aspects as well. I was responding in this case to what -- in my opinion -- were false statements (“not one of the Cs” etc.) or silly pronouncements (“If she sings like this at La Scala” etc.). I generally find that lies and deliberately provocative comments detract from rather than add to a conversation. Second, in my second paragraph, I was asking sincere questions of the other readers. I’m not sure where you’re finding straw men (since I wasn’t arguing a specific position, per se) and if you think it was “bizarre”, well again, you’re entitled to your opinion. Thanks for sharing.

  • manou

    Anna conquers La Scala:

    • Williams

      With Nello Santi conducting. It must have been heaven!

      • manou

        He will soon be conducting from heaven…

        • spiderman

          phew … seriously manou, that was a pretty low-class-remark.

          • manou

            Please forgive my crass comment.

    • ines
      here you find Amami Alfredo from last night.
      And the article says, that Ailyn Perez had an equal success on the opening night… so let’s enjoy Yoncheva too,and all of them. Strange that only 2 singers fill houses at the moment….
      BTW, Mattila is singing Kundry in Finland in August and Begbick in Zurich in November

      • manou

        Many thanks -- I am looking forward to the HD today.

  • Camille

    OPERA TEEN! Get those pencils sharpened and start writing that review. We are impatiently waiting for your word from on high.