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Anna Netrebko - Opera Arias

The Making of the Film: Anna Netrebko. The Woman – The Voice [14:44]
Anna Netrebko (soprano)
Elina Garanca (mezzo)(CD tr. 5), David Aronson (harpsichord) (CD tr. 1)
Wiener Staatsopernchor
Wiener Philharmoniker/Gianandrea Noseda
rec. Musikverein, Grosser Saal, March 2003.
DVD directed and choreographed by Vincent Paterson
Texts and English translations enclosed
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 00289 477 7566 [62:59 + 40:38]
Experience Classicsonline

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791)

1. Quando avran fine omai … Padre, germani, addio! [7:23]
Don Giovanni:
2. Crudele? – Ah no, mio bene! … Non mi dir, bell’idol mio [6:37]
Hector BERLIOZ (1803 – 1869)

Benvenuto Cellini:
3. Les belles fleurs! … Quand j’aurai votre âge [7:44]
Jules MASSENET (1842 – 1912)

4. Suis-je gentile ainsi? … Je marche sur tous les chemins … (Gavotte) Obéissons, quand leur voix appelle [6:35]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797 – 1848)

Lucia di Lammermoor:
5. Ancor non giunse! … Regnava nel silenzio [12:42]
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801 – 1835)

La sonnambula:
6. Care compagne, e voi, teneri amici … Come per me sereno [7:44]
Charles GOUNOD (1818 – 1893)

7. Les grands seigneurs ont seuls des airs si resoles – Air des bijoux Ah! je ris de me voir (Jewel Song) [6:28]
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841 – 1904)

8. Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém (Song to the Moon) [5:07]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858 – 1924)

La bohème:
9. Quando men vo (Musetta’s Waltz) [2:39]
Charles GOUNOD (1818 – 1893)

1. Air des bijoux Ah! je ris de me voir (Jewel Song) [4:04]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858 – 1924)

La bohème:
2. Quando men vo (Musetta’s Waltz) [3:22]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791)

Don Giovanni:
3. Crudele? – Ah no, mio bene! … Non mi dir, bell’idol mio [6:31]
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801 – 1835)

La sonnambula:
4. Care compagne, e voi, teneri amici … Come per me sereno [6:54]
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841 – 1904)

5. Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém (Song to the Moon) [5:03]

This CD was Anna Netrebko’s first solo recital and it was recorded in 2003. When it now appears again it is for a handful of the arias, their third packaging in less than five years. A couple of years ago there was a disc which was compiled from her first two recitals, to which had been added a few excerpts from her complete La traviata, a duet with Joseph Calleja from his second recital and a never before issued aria from one of the first sessions. The present set is actually a straight reissue in harness with a DVD showing her in five of the arias from the CD and filmed roughly at the same time. Offered at a special price this as good an opportunity as any to acquire this superb recital and get Ms Netrebko ‘on film’ at the same time. David C. F. Wright waxed lyrical about the original issue (review). I was just as enthusiastic about the above-mentioned compilation (review) but also advised readers to buy the two original recitals instead – and here is one of them!

Anna Netrebko’s credentials as a Mozart singer are well documented and she is a deep-probing and expressive Ilia in the first excerpt on this CD. Idomeneo was Mozart’s first mature opera and the first where his psychological insight was fully developed. In the long recitative we follow Ilia’s inner monologue when she looks back on her unhappy life. The music is tailor-made to express all her feelings. But the role also needs a singer who understands her predicament – and is able to bring it over to the listener, which is an even harder task when we have to contend only with the aural picture. Ms Netrebko has all the expressions needed and her woe is tangible. One automatically thinks of her as a natural Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni – maybe even a Zerlina, but that is a role she loathes. She has the measure of the more dramatic Donna Anna too – and who said it must be sung by a Brünnhilde? Singing this role is more a question of intensity, not sheer volume.

In the aria from Benvenuto Cellini she is allowed to show her coloratura technique, which is effortless and brilliant and she has a fine trill. Berlioz has moments of banality but as in most of his music the high and the low thrive side by side. The sublime is often stressed by the presence of its less well-endowed sister. The second French item, the aria and gavotte from Manon, is a masterpiece and the role suits Netrebko particularly well. It is a brilliant reading with a really alluring gavotte. Is a complete recording on the agenda, Deutsche Grammophon? And whil I am on that topic: the Lucia di Lammermoor excerpt makes me wish for a complete version of that opera too. Warmer than Beverly Sills and more expressive than Joan Sutherland she seems like the best of two worlds, and I wouldn’t mind hearing the excellent Elina Garanca as Alisa.

Her Amina in La sonnambula is fresh and more alert than one is used to and the coloratura is again superb. Back in French repertoire Marguerite is another role for the complete list; she is almost in the Victoria de los Angeles class – and that is praise indeed. The Song to the Moon from Rusalka is quite simple and unaffected but the big sweeping melody is filled with darker tones. Her Musetta is charmingly mischievous.

Besides having the best vocal resources in this repertoire since Caballé (Christopher Howell) or even Callas (Dr. Wright) she has the looks to beat them both and the DVD is certainly entertaining. Vincent Paterson has not strived to make the chosen scenes related to the actual situation in the opera but placed Anna Netrebko in various witty or surprising environments and situations; the soprano enjoys every second of it! The Jewel Song is a kind of kaleidoscope with Marguerite in various costumes and surroundings, flickering past quickly. Musetta’s waltz is sung in the backseat of a taxi with her partner turned away from her, busy talking in his cell-phone. In the song to the moon she is in a pool floating on an inflated rubber raft – Esther Williams-like. It is inventive, fun and tongue-in-the-cheek. People who are moderately interested in opera will appreciate it more than die-hard opera freaks. Lip-sync is not always perfect, but so what? When I want to listen to one of the finest opera singers now before the public I choose the CD; when it’s show-time I pick the DVD and get the same high-quality singing in the bargain.

If there are still people listening to opera recordings forty-eight years on, I believe this disc will be one of the classics, just as Joan Sutherland’s ‘Art of the Prima Donna’ is today and will continue to be.

Göran Forsling




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